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updated: 1/8/2011 8:21 PM

Cubs seal Garza deal

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  • Matt Garza pitched the first no-hitter in Tampa Bay Rays history.

      Matt Garza pitched the first no-hitter in Tampa Bay Rays history.
    Associated Press

 
 

Matt Garza talked of seeing Wrigley Field for the first time "in its snow-covered glory."

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry called it "a good, old-fashioned baseball trade."

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The big deal became official Saturday as the Cubs announced they had acquired pitcher Matt Garza and two other players from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for outfielder Sam Fuld, top prospects Chris Archer and Hak-Ju Lee and two other minor-leaguers.

Although the trade happened Friday, it did not become official until players on both sides passed physical exams.

Thus ended a saga that took more than a month to complete, with Hendry saying he and Tampa Bay GM Andrew Friedman talked every day except Christmas and New Year's.

Even though Garza's name has been in the news since the winter meetings in early December, he said he was still surprised by the deal.

"I was kind of caught off guard," he said. "My name was out there with a numerous amount of teams, and I just kept training. My job was to get ready for the season, whether it be in Tampa or wherever. Now, I'm getting ready to show up in Mesa, Ariz., in tiptop shape and ready to go for the season."

Hendry said he began working on the deal before the winter meetings began and that Garza was a primary target as the Cubs looked to upgrade their starting pitching after having signed first baseman Carlos Pena and reliever Kerry Wood.

Garza, 27, went 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA for the Rays last year, as they made the playoffs for the second time in three years. He was the MVP of the American League championship series in 2008 as he beat the Red Sox twice to help the Rays get to their first World Series.

"This is a guy who wanted to pitch against the Yankees and Red Sox," Hendry said. "He wanted the challenge."

Hendry also cited Garza's relative youth and the fact that he cannot become a free agent until after the 2013 season.

"This wasn't a trade -- and I heard a few things and I read a few-- that we're trying to win right now," Hendry said. "Matt is 27; he's going to be a Cub for a while. We look at this as a great trade for the present and the future."

In addition to Fuld, Archer and Lee, the Cubs also gave up outfielder Brandon Guyer, the organization's minor-league player of the year and minor-league catcher Robinson Chirinos. The Cubs also received speedy outfielder Fernando Perez and minor-league pitcher Zachary Rosscup, a lefty who pitched most of 2010 at short-season Class A ball.

Archer was the Cubs' top pitching prospect, and Lee is a highly touted middle infielder. Hendry said several teams were after Garza and that giving up Archer was key to getting the deal done.

"Chris is a very good prospect," Hendry said. "He's a wonderful kid. We hope he goes along to a great career with the Rays. He's the type of kid who I'm sure he aspires to be someone like Garza in a few years, and we hope it happens. You're certainly not going to be able to acquire this kind of pitcher without putting in a few of your top guys. The price of poker is high."

Garza, a native of Selma, Calif., began his career in the Minnesota Twins organization, getting selected in the first round of the 2005 draft. For his big-league career, he is 42-44 with a 3.97 ERA. He came to Chicago for his physical, where he saw Wrigley Field as he awaits his first pitching performance there.

Known as a pitcher who's not afraid to show his emotions on the mound, Garza said that's not reason for worry.

"It was never really a huge problem," he said. "It was just something I had to grow out of. It was a learning curve for me. I'm a real emotional guy. My emotions are driven by my passion for the game."

Although Rosscup appears several years away from the big leagues, Perez has a shot of sticking with the big-league club. He has minor-league options left and has spent parts of two seasons in the big leagues. In the minor leagues, he has 223 stolen bases.

"He's one of the fastest guys in the game," Hendry said. "He's a flyer. He was well on his way to looking like his career was going to take off after the World Series run, and then he had the severe injury to his hand and wrist. He's much healthier now that he's only hitting right-handed."

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