Cubs open to locking up Garza with extension


Cubs open to locking up Garza with extension

MESA, Ariz. The Cubs insist that all the Matt Garza speculation has been driven by the media, that its not a reflection of a team actively shopping its best pitcher.

Its just that Theo Epstein is looking at a five- to 10-year window to build an annual contender, and Garza is only under club control for the next two seasons. Short-term assets wont do much for this front office.

Garzas name has been all over the trade rumors, but hes used to that by now after being shipped from Minnesota to Tampa Bay to Chicago, which he liked enough to make his offseason home.

Garza, 28, recently avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, 9.5 million deal. Soon general manager Jed Hoyer expects to begin talking about a possible extension with Garzas agent, Nez Balelo of CAA Sports.

We focused really hard on getting the one-year number done a few weeks ago, Hoyer said Saturday. We didnt have any kind of long-term discussions before that. But certainly there was some dialogue about possibly having some long-term discussions at some point, maybe this spring.

Thats a long way of saying theres mutual interest in an extension at the right price.

Garzas reference point figures to be John Danks, who agreed to a five-year, 65 million extension with the White Sox this winter. The left-hander, who will turn 27 in April, will get 8 million this season, then 14.25 million annually through 2016.

The circumstances arent identical, but the career profiles for Garza (52-54, 3.83 ERA, 1.303 WHIP, 923.1 innings) and Danks (54-56, 4.03 ERA, 1.304 WHIP, 917.2 innings) match up well.

Garza has said that he doesnt want to talk about his contract situation and wont make demands through the media. But the Cubs are willing to listen.

When we do it, well keep it quiet, Hoyer said, and hopefully their side will, too, because I think contracts are better negotiated that way. But I think we will probably sit down and talk. Weve said many times hes the kind of guy we need. We need more Matt Garzas, not less. We need a rotation full of those guys. So if we can work something out, that would be wonderful.

Wrigley Field named one of the happiest places in the world by CNN

Wrigley Field named one of the happiest places in the world by CNN

In terms of overall satisfaction for a fanbase in total, it'd be hard for any team could beat the Cubs' faithful right now.

Ending a 108-year drought will make even the most pessimistic of fans ecstatic.

So it's no surprise Wrigley Field would be considered one of the happiest places on Earth.

To counteract "Blue Monday," CNN discussed 15 of the world's happiest places and Wrigley was included.

But the kicker is — CNN doesn't even mention the World Series championship.

Here's the rationale:

"Wrigley Field, on a warm summer night when the breeze off Lake Michigan makes the flags flutter and your cheeks flush with relief from the damp heat.

"No matter where you sit, you are close to the field, which makes you feel both the intimacy of the game and the immensity of it.

"The players, standing just feet away from you, feel like giants. And the vendors in the stands hawking hot dogs and beers and Italian ice really are a study in that particular species of Chicago native."

Don't know many people who would argue with that.

The only other American location on the list was Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn in Owensboro, Kentucky.

Other worldwide locations include Bangkok, Japan, New Zealand and Copenhagen.

Jon Lester explains absence from Cubs' White House trip: 'Absolutely nothing political'

Jon Lester explains absence from Cubs' White House trip: 'Absolutely nothing political'

Jon Lester didn't make any sort of statement by missing Monday's White House trip with his Cubs teammates. But at a polarizing moment in a divided country, a high-profile player on a World Series team felt the need to respond on social media and explain his absence from the championship ceremony. 

President Barack Obama name-checked Lester during his East Room speech – both for his spectacular pitching performance and beat-cancer charitable initiatives – as the Cubs continued their victory tour off the franchise's first World Series title since Theodore Roosevelt lived in the White House.

Lester stood behind Obama when the 2013 Boston Red Sox were honored on the South Lawn. During that 2014 ceremony, Lester stood next to John Lackey, another Cub who missed this Washington trip. Lester also toured George W. Bush's White House with Boston's 2007 championship team.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day – and with the specter of Donald Trump's inauguration looming – Obama used his administration's final official White House event to draw a direct line between him and Jackie Robinson and highlight the connective power of sports.

"The best part was the president talking about how sports brings people together," All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo said, "how no matter what's going on in this country and the world, three or four hours of any one particular game can just rally so many people together." 

This team couldn't have created so much joy for generations of fans without Lester, who signed a $155 million contract with the last-place Cubs after the 2014 season, a transformational moment during the long rebuild that led to the White House trip that Obama never thought would happen.

"It was a thrill and an honor for all of us," team president Theo Epstein said. "It means so much more with his roots in Chicago and his final days in office. It couldn't have worked out any better. It's something we'll all remember for our whole lives."