Garza still likely to be gone from Cubs soon

Updated 7/8/2013 11:24 PM
  • Despite Internet reports Monday, Matt Garza likely won't be making many more starts for the Cubs, even after his strong outing against the White Sox.

    Despite Internet reports Monday, Matt Garza likely won't be making many more starts for the Cubs, even after his strong outing against the White Sox. Associated Press

If all those scouts who showed up Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field paid attention to social media, they might have gone home.

Instead, they watched as Cubs pitcher Matt Garza showcased his talents against the White Sox.

It was another interesting and strange day around the Cubs. In the morning, they traded outfielder Scott Hairston to the Washington Nationals for a minor-league pitching prospect.

Garza remains the Cubs' top trading chip, but a report surfaced on later in the day that the Cubs and Garza were entertaining the idea of a contract extension that would keep him a Cub.

Garza and the Cubs have talked, but the surest bet still is that the Cubs move him on or before the July 31 nonwaiver trading deadline.

During a Monday morning teleconference with reporters, well before the extension stories broke, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer was asked about Garza. The current Cubs front office does not make a practice of discussing player negotiations of any kind.

"He's been a popular name and a guy we've gotten a lot of phone calls on," Hoyer said. "I think he's opened a lot of eyes the way he's thrown the last four, five times out."

There are good reasons the Cubs are going to trade Garza:

•He has been on the disabled list in each of his three seasons with the Cubs, twice for lengthy stints.

•He's a free agent come this fall, and the Cubs likely won't want to commit to a pitcher they might feel is a health risk.

•Trading a pitcher such as Garza for prospects is in keeping with what this organization under Hoyer and team president Theo Epstein has done.

Garza has pitched well since coming off the DL on May 21, and that should make him all that more attractive to other teams. In his last 5 starts including Monday's 8-2 victory over the White Sox, he has an 0.97 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 37 innings.

The other high-profile subject of trade speculation on the Cubs is Alfonso Soriano. Soriano's situation is more complicated because he can veto any trade involving him because he has 10-and-5 rights.

Soriano, though, is heating up. Against the White Sox, he homered, doubled, walked, singled and stole two bases, looking like the Alfonso Soriano of his younger days.

He has this season and next left on his eight-year, $136 million contract. It will take some doing and a lot of money-eating for the Cubs to move him, but if he stays hot, the Cubs might find a taker.

Of course, the Cubs are sellers again this year because of their status as non-contenders.

"I would hope that we cease being sellers on an annual basis," Hoyer said. "We want to be buyers. We need to acquire a lot of talent and build that wave that can come up here and give us that sustained success, and with that we hope we can move in the other direction and be buyers and not sellers."

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