Friday, January 13, 2012
Matt Garza used to hearing trade rumors
By Bruce Levine
Chicago Cubs starter Matt Garza has not let the rumor mill disturb his offseason.
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has been transparent about the fact that he's listened to offers for Garza, although he clarified on Wednesday that the team hasn't actively shopped the pitcher. However, numerous teams including the Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers and, most recently, the Detroit Tigers have discussed different potential player combinations with the Cubs since Epstein began talking to clubs in December.
"I really don't pay attention to [trade talk]," Garza said Friday at the Cubs Convention in Chicago. "It's my job to get ready and be in shape for spring training. But that's all I've been focused on. So if I get a phone call [about a trade] -- and I've got them before -- so be it. It happens. At this point I'm excited to stay here. But if it happens, it happens."
The first time Garza was traded was after the 2007 season, when he went to the Tampa Bay Rays from the Minnesota Twins. He was dealt to the Cubs last offseason in an eight-player deal that sent five prospects to Tampa. Garza is keenly aware that this offseason there's been at least six teams rumored to have interest in his services.
"At least I'm being talked about," Garza said. "That's a lot better than not being talked about at all. Those days [when you get traded], when they come, that's when you worry about it. But other teams being interested, that's a huge compliment. But my main focus is just getting ready for February and spring training."
Garza has observed the new front office going about its business and said the younger nucleus is something he's excited about.
"Oh yeah, a youth movement," Garza said. "I've been a part of one of those before. Actually, they're always fun because there's a new hero every night. Young players learn how to play at the major league level and then perform magical stuff right in front of your eyes."
Epstein also said Wednesday that the Cubs have considered signing Garza to a long-term deal. Garza has two years of arbitration eligibility left before possible free agency in 2014.
"I don't get involved in that," Garza said. "That's my agent's job. If there's an offer or something, he'll let me know."
Garza had a team-low 3.32 ERA for starters last season. He averaged 8.95 strikeouts per nine innings, which was seventh best in the National League. Although his record was 10-10, he left seven games with a lead only to end up with no-decisions.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.