Theo Epstein’s busy off season for the Chicago Cubs continues to roll as late Monday night, they reached a deal with left handed starting pitcher Paul Maholm. Ironically enough, Maholm announced his own signing on his twitter account by telling the world that he would be at the Cubs Convention which is scheduled to start this Friday! While on the surface, this deal appears to be nothing more than adding addition depth to a starting rotation which looked to be complete after the trade of Carlos Zambrano to the Miami Marlins for Chris Volstad, there could be much bigger ramifications coming sooner than many Cub fans would care them to.
Earlier in the day when the rumors first started surfacing about the Cubs being close to signing Maholm I predicted that there may be another trade coming very soon, one that would not be overly popular with Cub fans. At the time, I felt very comfortable in my belief that a trade of Matt Garza could not be too far behind if the Cubs were indeed close to signing Maholm.
Low and behold, an hour or so later, David Kaplan posted an article mentioning that the Cubs and the Detroit Tigers were moving ever closer to a deal that would send the fan favorite pitcher to the American League for a boat load of prospects, because unlike any other team mentioned to have interest, the Tigers were willing to pay the Cubs asking price.
Many fans can not begin to understand just why the Cubs want to trade Garza, if they are in fact rebuilding. They believe that he is young enough and should be the one they build their pitching rotation around. On many levels that does make sense, as he is a fairly young starting pitcher, and is the best pitcher currently on the Cubs starting staff. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when pondering exactly why Garza is being dangled in trade discussions.
As many already know, as evident by comments by Cub fans, he is young and still under club control for two more years. But that is also where the trouble comes into play. While he is still under club control, he is also arbitration eligible and is scheduled to make at least $10 Million this year alone. Figure another jump in pay for the 2013 season. If the Cubs are not able to lock him up after the 2013 season they will likely lose him to the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox or another big market team who is actually ready to knock the door down. In that instance, they lose him for nothing, or at least only a single draft pick.
With a trade, while he still has a lot of value and team control, the Cubs can get back a number of good prospects, especially if the Tigers are indeed to pay the Cubs asking price which has been reported to be sky high. The Cubs could net a boat load of top prospects from an organization which has a number of good young players who could instantly help bring some sense of prominence back to a farm system which has been lacking impact players for several years.
While many fans will either not understand why the trade was made or agree with trading away the best starting pitcher the Cubs currently have, Epstein and Jed Hoyer have a plan. They are trying to build a team for the long haul and one that will have sustained success. A trade of Garza continues the Cubs down the path which Epstein has already started us down by netting us some of baseball’s top prospects like Anthony Rizzo.
While a trade of Garza is all speculation at the moment, and will be until a deal is actually made, I would not be surprised to see Garza traded by the end of the week. While many fans say that he has already been confirmed for the Cubs Convention, remember that Zambrano and Andrew Cashner were also confirmed for the convention at one time as well.
The future is now, enjoy your favorite Cubs while they are on the team, because they could be gone in the blink of an eye.