Matt Garza's future includes 10.25 million deal with Cubs

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Matt Garza's future includes 10.25 million deal with Cubs

Matt Garza will make 10.25 million in his walk year before potentially cashing in as a free agent.

The Cubs reached an agreement on Thursday with perhaps their most marketable trade chip, leaving right-hander Jeff Samardzija and reliever James Russell as their two remaining arbitration cases. A team source confirmed the deal, which was first announced on Twitter by Garzas agency, CAA Sports.

Garza made 9.5 million last year, going 5-7 with a 3.91 ERA in 18 starts, but he didnt throw a pitch after July 21 because of a stress reaction in his right elbow. That killed his trade value, which wont be restored until he proves hes healthy again.

Garza has resumed a throwing program and sounded upbeat on his personal Twitter account. General manager Jed Hoyer has said that Garza should have no restrictions in spring training, while team president Theo Epstein expects the 29-year-old pitcher to be ready by Opening Day.

The Cubs arent going to move Garza as soon as hes made a few Cactus League starts. It sounds like the probable scenario is that he and his teammates will get a chance to jell in Arizona, a runway for a few months during the regular season, to show where theyre at before the front office would decide to become sellers.

On Wednesday, Epstein was asked a question about Garza and his standing in the organization once pitchers and catchers report to Mesa next month.

We teach our hitters to take like a yes, yes, yes, no approach, Epstein said, to be aggressive, as if every pitch is going to be a pitch they can drive until its not, and then they take it. Thats the same thing you do for a season. Once you get to spring training, youre there to win until youre not.

Now you never forget about the future. Youre always keeping one eye on the present, one eye on the future. And if theres ever a chance to add to the future without taking away from the current team, thats always something that you look to do. But, yeah, were competitive people and once you get to spring training youre trying to win.

Throughout the winter, there have been signals that Samardzija is not inclined to sign an extension right now. But Samardzija and Garza could make an interesting one-two punch at the top of the Cubs rotation.

Cubs expect Ben Zobrist and Addison Russell to be ready for Opening Night

Cubs expect Ben Zobrist and Addison Russell to be ready for Opening Night

MESA, Ariz. – The Cubs expect Ben Zobrist and Addison Russell to be ready for Opening Night, downplaying any health concerns about their All-Star middle infielders. 

One week out from facing the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium, manager Joe Maddon spent part of Sunday's media session saying how he had no concerns with his World Series MVP's stiff neck and his franchise shortstop's stiff back.

"You can tell with 'Zo,'" Maddon said at the Sloan Park complex. "He'll come around and let me know specifically if he feels it's going to be anything longer than that. He's talking either tomorrow night or the next day."

Zobrist, who spent nine seasons with Maddon's Tampa Bay Rays, hasn't appeared in a Cactus League game since March 19. Maddon also signaled Russell is close to returning to action after being a late scratch from Friday's lineup.

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Not like this, but the Cubs already planned to schedule extra rest for Zobrist, given his age (36 in May), the playoff stress on his body from back-to-back World Series titles and emerging options like Javier Baez on a mix-and-match team. 

All along, Maddon hasn't worried about finding enough at-bats for Baez, knowing that injuries are inevitable and the Cubs have insurance policies up and down the roster that should pay off across a 162-game season. But in this case, it doesn't sound like the Cubs are testing that theory with Zobrist and Russell.

"None of this stuff is really threatening," Maddon said. "The trainers have no real strong issues with anything. It's almost like you'll be overly cautious right now. And that's all we're doing."

Brett Anderson’s personality mixing well with Cubs: ‘I don’t hate anybody yet’

Brett Anderson’s personality mixing well with Cubs: ‘I don’t hate anybody yet’

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Joe Maddon's T-shirt slogans can get a little old at times, but the Cubs manager found a new audience in Brett Anderson, who liked the idea of "Be Uncomfortable" after signing a one-year, prove-it deal with the defending champs.

"It's been awesome so far," Anderson said. "That's my running joke – we're a month into it now or whatever it is – and I don't hate anybody yet.

"That's a testament to the group as a whole – and maybe me evolving as a person."

Yes, Anderson's sarcasm, social-media presence and groundball style fits in with a team built around short-term pitching and Gold Glove defense. The if-healthy lefty finished his Cactus League tour on Saturday afternoon by throwing four innings (one unearned run) during a 7-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies in front of 13,565 at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Anderson will open the season as the No. 4 starter after a camp that has been remarkably low-key and drama-free.

"I'm kind of cynical by nature, but it's a fun group to be a part of," Anderson said, "(with) young guys that are exciting and happy to be here. And then obviously the mix of veterans, too, that are here with intentions of winning another World Series."

To make that happen, the pitching staff will have to again stay unbelievably healthy. Anderson rolled with a general question about how he physically feels now compared to where he's usually at by this time of year.

"Obviously better than last year, because I was walking with a gimp and all that stuff," said Anderson, who underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a bulging disk in his lower back last March. "No, my body feels good, my arm feels good and you're getting into the dog days of spring training where you're itching to get to the real thing."