Garza likes it here, but thats no guarantee

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Garza likes it here, but thats no guarantee

Matt Garza doesnt take it personally. Its just business. Hell only be worried when no ones talking about him.

My name is in trade rumors every season, so it doesnt bother me, Garza said. If my names not said anymore, then its time to think about what Im doing.

Garza showed up Friday at Cubs Convention knowing that everyone would be asking about the constant speculation over where he could be dealt. He was seen chatting with Theo Epstein for awhile at the Hilton Chicago.

Garza remains under club control for two more seasons, while Epstein is working on a five-to-10-year plan. More than once, the president of baseball operations has mentioned a contract extension as a way to convert a short-term asset into long-term one.

Thats something my agent and I and Theo and (general manager Jed Hoyer will) talk about, Garza said. I like the city. I love playing here. My kids love it. (But) its between them and then well talk about things like that. That stuffs behind closed doors, and thats where it should stay.

If its any indication, Garza has lived in the Chicago area this offseason and appreciates that Epstein has updated his representatives throughout. The Cubs have to see what they could get for a 28-year-old frontline pitcher, but they would have to be blown away by a team willing to give up multiple elite prospects.

(Garzas) a pro. Hes been traded before. He can handle situations like this, Epstein said. Through all of the media speculation, its important to remember how big a part of this team that he is. Hes a rare commodity. Hes a top-of-the-rotation-type starter. Hes proven it in the AL East (and the playoffs).

Hes a guy (who) when he has the ball, our team thinks were going to win that day. Thats important. You cant underestimate the impact of that on a ballclub.

Garza tries to stay positive and block out all the noise. This is the guy who last July said Were right where we need to be after a comeback win in Washington left the Cubs 17 games under .500.

After experiencing a miracle run with the small-market Tampa Bay Rays, Garza isnt fazed by the idea of a rebuilding project, and thinks he could be on a contender right here.

Why not? Garza said. Ive played on teams that were just as young and done some special things. So I know what youth can do and Ive seen it, so Im pretty excited where this is going.

Breaking down how Cubs look at the Justin Verlander situation

Breaking down how Cubs look at the Justin Verlander situation

Theo Epstein’s embrace-debate management style means the Cubs are constantly running through different scenarios, trying to balance their win-now urges against what should be a very bright future in Wrigleyville.

The financials, the human intelligence and the analytics are all factored into the equation, which leads to this question for Epstein’s cabinet: Is there a point where the Detroit Tigers kick in enough money and the prospect cost becomes so low that Justin Verlander makes sense for the Cubs?

The Cubs haven’t definitively answered that question yet or completely ruled out the idea, a team source said Tuesday, cautioning that the defending World Series champs are still more likely to add a reliever before the July 31 trade deadline than acquire a frontline starting pitcher.

“Always looking to make the team better,” manager Joe Maddon said before a 7-2 win over the White Sox kept the Cubs in a virtual first-place tie with the Milwaukee Brewers. “Always. That’s what a GM and a president does. But I like our guys.”  

Verlander would obviously benefit from a move to the National League and feel energized in a pennant race. The Cubs could rationalize this as an immediate boost and a long-range solution while preparing for a 2018 rotation without Jake Arrieta and John Lackey.

Imagine the buzz from Kate Upton’s fiancée walking into the clubhouse and making his first start at Wrigley Field in a Cubs uniform. Verlander and Upton have been spotted enough times at Chicago Cut Steakhouse that his no-trade power might be the easiest hurdle to clear in a deal of this magnitude.

Verlander’s overall numbers are ordinary this season (5-7, 4.50 ERA, 1.444 WHIP), but trending in the right direction. The Cubs would go into it knowing that they wouldn’t get the same guy who won 24 games and American League MVP and Cy Young awards in 2011.

The Tigers also can’t just give away a franchise icon who finished second in last year’s AL Cy Young voting and has a 3.39 ERA in 16 career playoff starts

The Cubs are trying to see around corners and anticipate what the team will look like in 2018 and 2019 – when Verlander will make $28 million guaranteed each season – and what might be available in trades and on the free-agent market during those transaction cycles. Verlander is also owed the balance of his $28 million salary this season and has a $22 million vesting option for 2020.

Even if the Tigers pay down some of that commitment, that’s still a ton of exposure with a guy who has roughly 2,500 innings on his odometer and will be 35 years old around the time pitchers and catchers report to spring training next season. That’s also when the Cubs will begin the second half of Jon Lester’s $155 million megadeal – for his age-34, -35 and -36 seasons.

After stunning the baseball world with that blockbuster White Sox trade during the All-Star break, Epstein talked about how Jose Quintana’s reasonable contract – $8.85 million next season plus team options for 2019 and 2020 worth $22 million combined – creates room for another star player.

As great as Verlander has been throughout his career, are the Cubs really ready to pour that money back into a player who was born in 1983? And meet Detroit’s asking price in terms of prospects?

And go against the buy-low philosophy that attracted the Cubs to Arrieta, as well as the ageism that makes them reluctant to reinvest in their own Cy Young Award winner? And potentially close off opportunities to sign free agents from the monster class coming after the 2018 season?

Probably not, but the Cubs haven’t shut down the Verlander discussion yet.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs even up Crosstown Series with White Sox

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs even up Crosstown Series with White Sox

Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Jordan Bernfield (ESPN) and Mark Potash (Chicago Sun-Times) join Kap to talk Game 2 of the Crosstown Series.

Later, the group previews Bears camp and what's going on with the Cavaliers.

Check out the SportsTalk Live Podcast below: