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MLB Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs: Is Matt Garza Still Trade Bait?

Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

In 2012, Matt Garza was a name that ran rampant in trade rumors for the Chicago Cubs. But after going down with an elbow injury a week before the trade deadline, we have yet to hear his name come up much.

It’s been a pretty large debate among the Cub faithful as to whether or not the club should keep or trade Garza. On one hand, you have a guy who has a few years of his prime left, and has pitched very well on the North Side. On the other, you have a guy who many teams covet and could bring a great return in a trade. Assuming he’s healthy.

In his two seasons with the Cubs, Garza has an ERA around 3.61. He’s tossed over 300 innings on the North Side, striking out nearly nine hitters per nine innings over the course of those two seasons. Though his emotions have been called into question, there’s no doubt he’s a top tier pitcher in the National League.

The only question is whether or not he’ll remain in the National League. The Cubs have reportedly entertained the thought of signing him to an extension in the past, but far more rumors have centered around him being on the trade block. By all indications, he’ll remain there until he’s actually traded.

But when might that happen? There are a few names on this roster that are going to be heavily shopped this winter, Alfonso Soriano among them. Carlos Marmol as well. But I would expect Matt Garza to be with this club headed into spring training, regardless of whether he’s in the long-term plan for the Cubs or not.

The reason is simply his health. After elbow problems in his throwing arm, teams are going to be pretty hesitant to surrender the type of package the Cubs have requested for him. His injury isn’t expected to be an issue moving forward, but it was enough to cost him the final two months of the season. Which means teams are going to want to Garza to prove that he’s healthy.

A trade could still take place in spring training, as long as Garza’s work in the spring goes off without a hitch. But if the Cubs are going to trade him, a July trade seems far more likely. The only issue will be that Garza no longer has an extra year of control like he would have if a team had acquired him in 2012. He’s a free agent in 2014. Meaning the return could go down for a guy who will probably be a rental.

At the end of the day, it’s highly unlikely that Garza will be a Cub beyond 2013. But given how much his value has dropped, between the injury and being a free agent after 2013, it will be interesting to see how the Cubs approach a potential trade and how much less significant the return becomes.