Garza Still Very Much In Play for the Cubs?

If the past three Decembers are any indication, the next two weeks could be very interesting for the Chicago Cubs. As Bruce Miles pointed out, Jim Hendry has made several moves in late December over the last three years.

The Cubs signed Kosuke Fukudome (2007), traded Milton Bradley and acquired Carlos Silva (2009), signed Joey Gathright (2008), traded Jason Marquis (2008), traded Mark DeRosa (2008), signed Aaron Miles (2008) and signed Marlon Byrd (2009).

Will Jim Hendry end 2010 with a few more moves?

According to Bruce Miles, Matt Garza is still “very much in play for the Cubs” but Garza could be an option for several other teams as well.

Also, could Josh Vitters and other top prospects in the Cubs’ system be on the table in trade talks? Here’s the update … Matt Garza
The Rays right-hander is “still very much in play for the Cubs” according to a report from Bruce Miles. Jim Hendry is “still trying to get a hand on the Tampa Bay Rays’ appetite for moving the pitcher.” Miles pointed out Joe Maddon’s response (when he was asked if the Rays were shopping Matt Garza) during the Winter Meetings. Miles mentioned “managers say a lot of things” and “it’s still a story worth following.”

The Cubs are just one of several teams interested in trading for Matt Garza.

Many view Garza as a fallback plan for the Rangers and Yankees if they lost out on the Cliff Lee Derby. With Lee headed to the Phillies, the Rangers figure to step up their pursuit of Garza.

Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle (and MLB Network) joined Jim Memolo and Rob Dibble during First Pitch (XM Radio) on Monday to discuss the situation.

Justice said the Rangers are prepared to go out and trade for Matt Garza or Zack Greinke if they are not able to re-sign Cliff Lee (note: the interview with Justice was on Monday morning, the reports of Lee agreeing to terms with the Phillies happened around 11:00pm CT). Texas has the pieces (prospects) to acquire Garza and could decide to pull the trigger on the trade even if they re-sign Lee.

Justice indicated Andrew Friedman (Rays’ GM) is listening to offers.

According to Ken Rosenthal, Matt Garza “might make even more sense to a team seeking to trade for a starting pitching” than Zack Greinke.

Greinke might be a better pitcher, right now, but the numbers are very similar (except strikeout to walk ratio) but Garza would cost virtually the same over three years ($24-$26 million) compared to what Greinke would earn over the final two years of his current contract ($27 million).

Garza also has playoff experience (2008 ALCS MVP) and has pitched in big games … something that has not existed in Kansas City in a couple of decades.

According to ESPN (subscription only), it is unclear what the Cubs could send the Rays in return for Matt Garza. ESPN.com listed several of the Cubs top prospects (Brett Jackson, Jay Jackson, Josh Vitters, Chris Carpenter, Hak-Ju Lee and Andrew Cashner) but did not say if any of the group has been discussed in a possible deal.

Brandon Webb
According to Bruce Miles, the Cubs “continue to look” at Brandon Webb. The Cubs would prefer to sign Webb to a low base with incentives. Bruce Levine reported Saturday (during Talkin’ Baseball) that a decision on Webb could be made this week.

Trade Pieces and the Untouchables
According to Bruce Miles, “the only prospects the Cubs won’t move are Brett Jackson and Chris Archer.” Two of the Cubs top prospects are considered untouchable while “all the others would be on the table in trade talks” … including players like Jay Jackson and Josh Vitters.

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Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.