Cubs, Rangers leave Matt Garza in a holding pattern

Cubs, Rangers leave Matt Garza in a holding pattern

July 19, 2013, 4:00 pm
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DENVER – Matt Garza stood in the middle of Coors Field’s visiting clubhouse and ended a 90-second media session by quoting a line from the movie “Finding Nemo.”

“Just keep swimming, guys,” Garza said Friday. “That’s it. Just keep swimming.” 

With that, Garza needed the Cubs strength and conditioning coach and disappeared into another workout, all part of his business-as-usual routine. The cloud of trade rumors has followed him for years now, and it appears that deal with the Texas Rangers isn’t quite that close.

[MORE: What the Cubs are looking for in a Garza deal]

A “rough morning” began with Garza firing shots at United Airlines and TSA on his personal Twitter account as he tried to get on his early flight to Denver at O’Hare International Airport. FOX Sports was reporting the Rangers were on the verge of acquiring Garza, viewing him as a finishing piece for a team with World Series ambitions. 

Late Thursday night, there was also a sense in Texas that the Rangers were having issues with the asking price and already down the road exploring a Plan B. By Friday night, Yahoo! Sports revealed there was a snag in the negotiations.

“When (the phone) rings, then it will be real,” Garza said. “Right now, it’s just rumors. It is what it is and you just keep going about your business.”

All the speculation doesn’t particularly bother Garza. He’s gone 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA across his last six starts, reinforcing the belief he’s the best pitcher on the market. But it’s also impossible to ignore.

While shopping a pitcher who could wind up being only a three-month rental, the Cubs have been looking for three pieces in return, while also keeping an open mind about adding other major-league players to the deal.

The New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Arizona Diamondbacks, Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates were among the teams with scouts at Coors Field as the Cubs opened the unofficial second half of the season. 

The focus will be on Garza, even though he’s not scheduled to pitch during this three-game series against the Colorado Rockies and should be fitted for a new uniform soon.

Garza said his agent told him a trade is a possibility after communicating with the Cubs front office: “It’s all over everywhere. Obviously, it ‘could be.’ (But) until something’s definite, then he’ll tell me it’s done.”

The Rangers are a win-now team with a group of pitchers headlined by Yu Darvish on the disabled list. They went after Garza last summer, before an elbow injury took him off the trade market.

[MORE: Hoyer happy with the direction Cubs are headed]

That risk means it’s highly unlikely Garza will make his next start on Monday night at Chase Field against the Diamondbacks. But manager Dale Sveum – who unplugged in Las Vegas during the All-Star break and didn’t speak with the front office – said he isn’t making contingency plans yet.  

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, but we’re not worried about it right now,” Sveum said. “You don’t do anything about it until it happens. More than 50 percent of all trade talks never come true anyway. So in my world, there’s no use dealing with it.”

So Garza followed his routine, running the warning track at Coors Field after his throwing session. Teammates and coaches appreciate his strong work ethic, and they’re used to his quirky personality, knowing that he usually gives them a chance to win that night.

Garza is 29 years old and has already been traded from the Minnesota Twins to the Tampa Bay Rays to the Cubs. There will be another team, and then probably a huge contract as a free agent.

“Last year, they told me something could happen, and the year before that, something could and did happen,” Garza said. “My entire career’s always been a lot of ‘coulds.’ So I’m just going to keep going until a ‘could’ turns into a ‘does.’ I’ll keep doing what I do.”

After landing in Colorado, @Gdeuceswild tweeted exactly what’s on the minds of Cubs fans, the national media and contending teams: “In Denver, but for how long? I hope the whole series!‪#gocubsgo.”