The Chicago Cubs have done just about all of the dealing in the early trade market, but their biggest trade chip -- right-hander Matt Garza -- is still on the table. Garza is in the process of negotiating a long-term extension with the club, but acknowledged that his chances of being traded at the deadline are still about "50/50," reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.
More Cubs: A Contract Extension for Garza?
Garza, 29, has been a hot commodity on the trade front since last summer, but has yet to change hands because injuries sidelined him until late May. The right-hander's first few starts back from the disabled list were shaky, but he has been lights out over the last month. He owns an 0.97 earned-run average and 4.25 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his last five starts, which has piqued the interest of several contending clubs.
A handful of clubs came out to scout Garza for his Monday night start against the White Sox, in which he allowed one earned run and struck out six in seven innings. The Rangers had two scouts at the game, while the Indians, Pirates, Blue Jays, and Padres each had one. Morosi speculates that Texas probably "present(s) the best fit," but also adds that the Red Sox, Nationals, and Dodgers can't be ruled out of the proceedings.
Because he's a free agent at the end of the season, the Cubs cannot expect to get a massive haul in return for Garza no matter how well he pitches leading up to the trade deadline. In the past, the acquisition of a player like Garza would have netted his new club a compensation pick when he hit free agency, but the new Collective Bargaining Agreement has done away with that benefit.
According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, Garza and the Cubs are no closer in contract talks now than they were a year ago when the discussions went nowhere. Some believe that the new contract talks are a tactic of the Cubs' front office to convince potential suitors that Garza is healthy, and that Chicago has no real desire to re-sign the right-hander. Garza seems to believe his extension chances are "as real as a trade," however, and the talks could be a sign of the Cubs' willingness to re-up with the right-hander when he hits free agency in the fall, even if he's traded now.