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.