Kaplan: Cubs discussing Garza; deal not imminent

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Kaplan: Cubs discussing Garza; deal not imminent

Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011
9:58 AM Updated 5:06 PM

By David Kaplan
CSNChicago.com

There has much speculation about the Cubs pursuit of Tampa Bay Rays starter Matt Garza and this morning Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times posted a story that says that the Cubs are close to finalizing a trade for the hard throwing 27-year-old.

Wittenmyers report says this:

"The Cubs appear to have moved past the Texas Rangers and into the drivers seat in efforts to acquire Tampa Bay Rays 15-game winner Matt Garza a potential move that could put the Cubs back into the National League Central title conversation for 2011.A major-league source said Tuesday the Cubs were close to trading for the power-pitching right-hander, just as the Rangers were committing a big multiyear deal to third baseman Adrian Beltre and appeared to be pursuing free-agent closer Rafael Soriano. Those efforts come after the Rangers fell short in their efforts to use the money to keep big-ticket free-agent pitcher Cliff Lee.Landing Garza who has as many postseason wins as the returning Cubs roster combined would be a significant response to upstart Cincinnatis pitching-driven division title last season and division-rival Milwaukees trade for Cy Young winner Zack Greinke last month.It would give the Cubs a Ryan Dempster-Garza-Carlos Zambrano top three to their starting rotation and make the back end look stronger with only two spots between Andrew Cashner, Randy Wells, Carlos Silva, Tom Gorzelanny and Jeff Samardzija. That would open the door for one or more of them to be traded in a next-step deal, depending on who might be included in a Garza move."

I just spoke with three major league sources who all told me that while there have been discussions about Garza between Tampa Bay and Chicago, no deal is imminent. In fact, names of potential players that the Cubs could include in the deal have not yet been exchanged. The price to land Garza will be very high because of a number of reasons. First, he won 15 games in the rugged AL East which means he has guts and that is tough to find in young, proven pitching. Second, he is only 27 so his best days barring injury should be ahead of him. Third, he is under team control for three more seasons so that cost certainty will be very expensive to acquire, one well known agent told me this morning.

The St. Petersburg Times reports that there are no indication that the Rays are looking to trade any of their six starting pitchers right now unless they are overwhelmed by an offer.

The Cubs are willing to put a solid package of players together if indeed Tampa Bay is willing to move him but unless that package overwhelms Rays GM Andrew Friedman he, according to an excellent source in Tampa, is more than likely to hang on to Garza until he sees what the market is during the season. As to why Tampa would move a young starter that they control who is only 27? First off, after losing the core of their team in free agency, (Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, etc) they are not expected to be a contender in 2011. So if they can rebuild a number of spots on their roster by trading a prized commodity in starting pitching where they already have some depth it makes sense to consider it.

Look for Cubs GM Jim Hendry to continue to gauge the price and if it makes sense the Cubs are willing to make the move. They have significant money coming off the books after this coming season so Garza certainly would be an excellent addition going forward. However, the deal is not imminent at this point. Things change quickly in baseball so I will keep you posted as developments occur.

David Kaplan is the host of Chicago Tribune Live on Comcast SportsNet. Follow him on Twitter @thekapman.

SportsTalk Live: David DeJesus discusses time spent with Joe Maddon, World Series criticism

SportsTalk Live: David DeJesus discusses time spent with Joe Maddon, World Series criticism

"Be sexy."

That was one of two rules manager Joe Maddon told David DeJesus when the Tampa Bay Rays acquired him in 2013.

DeJesus appeared on SportsTalk Live on Wednesday to discuss his time spent with Maddon in Tampa Bay.

"Just be yourself out there," DeJesus said of Maddon when the Rays traded for him. "I want you to have fun and I want you to just have that ora of 'just don't worry, just go out there and play.' It kept the whole team loose."

DeJesus also shared his thoughts on Maddon's questionable managerial decisions in the World Series.

Hear that, and more, in the video above.

Between Cubs' victory lap and Hall of Fame vote, Sammy Sosa barely staying in the picture

Between Cubs' victory lap and Hall of Fame vote, Sammy Sosa barely staying in the picture

Sammy Sosa has stayed so far off the radar that his long-running absence from Cubs Convention didn't even come up during last weekend's Q&A session with ownership.

And the Cubs can't go viral all the time and dominate every offseason news cycle, with the National Baseball Hall of Fame revealing the election results on Wednesday and welcoming Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez as part of its 2017 class.

But it's become out of sight, out of mind for Sosa, who barely crossed the 5-percent threshold (8.6) needed to remain on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot for another year.

Sosa — a seven-time All Star, 1998 National League MVP and the franchise's all-time leader with 545 home runs (and 609 overall) — hadn't gained any traction at all during his first four years under BBWAA consideration, hovering between 12.5 and 6.6 percent.

It's complicated with Sosa, a diva personality who experienced a dramatic late-career renaissance and got named in a New York Times report that exposed him as one of the players who tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2003 (during what was supposed to be an anonymous survey).

The Cubs have undergone a complete makeover since Sosa walked out in 2004, leaving him without many allies in the organization. It's nothing personal, but in the past the Ricketts family has hinted that Sosa could mend certain fences and fill in some of the blanks he once left open during an unconvincing performance in front of Congress.

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The Cubs brought Hall of Famers Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins and Ryne Sandberg to meet President Barack Obama during their Martin Luther King Jr. Day visit to the White House and keep adding former players to the front office. It's awkward after a World Series run where so many alumni showed up to do TV work, throw first pitches, spray champagne or simply watch a rare playoff game at Wrigley Field.

— If Sosa's looking for a roadmap, Manny Ramirez did his penance and cooperated with Major League Baseball to the point where Cubs president Theo Epstein shockingly hired him as a Triple-A Iowa player/coach in the middle of the 2014 season, something that would have been unthinkable during their clashes with the Boston Red Sox.

As a hitting consultant, Ramirez took a come-and-go-as-you-please arrangement, becoming a national story during the 2015 playoffs but largely staying away from the 2016 championship team, perhaps gearing up for his independent-ball comeback in Japan this year. Even after failing multiple drug tests, one of the greatest right-handed hitters of his generation still finished at 23.8 percent in his first year on the BBWAA ballot.

— Lee Smith (34.2 percent) — a drafted-and-developed Cub and the franchise's all-time leader with 180 saves — didn't come close in his 15th and final time on the BBWAA ballot. Smith had been grandfathered when the Hall of Fame narrowed the eligibility window to 10 years, possibly trying to squeeze Steroid Era symbols like Roger Clemens (54.1 percent) and Barry Bonds (53.8 percent).

— This will make Cub fans feel old: Kerry Wood and Carlos Zambrano are Hall of Fame-eligible for the first time in 2018, when based off this year's returns Trevor Hoffman (74) and Vladimir Guerrero (71.7) should be building momentum toward the 75 percent needed for induction into Cooperstown.