The 28-year-old pitcher has been the subject of trade talk with several teams inquiring about his availability, including the New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers, according to sources.
"I'm hoping to talk to him this weekend [at the Cubs Convention]," Epstein said. "I've kept his representatives updated every step. But let's downplay this. This is really more what has happened in the media than what has happened in reality. There was no attempt to shop him. This is not an everyday endeavor for us.
"As we do with all of our players, we weigh all of our options. Really I think very highly of Matt Garza. I think he's a top-of-the-rotation guy, and I'm looking forward to him being on the mound for us this season. But we are being transparent about the fact that sometimes it makes sense to weigh your options and see if you can put yourself in a better position for the long haul."
Garza has two arbitration-eligible years left on his contract. If Garza isn't traded, the Cubs likely will look at a long-term extension. He made $5.9 million in 2011 and could make $8 million to $9 million this season in arbitration.
"It makes sense for the organization to turn short-term assets into long-term assets," Epstein said. "You can do that like we did with Sean. For one year with Sean Marshall we get five years of Travis Wood [after a December trade with the Reds]. But there is another way to do it. You can also find a contract extension that makes sense for both parties and create long-term impact that way.
"You hate to talk about it because you hate to have the player read about it, but we also want to be transparent as we try to set the organization up for the long haul."
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.