The Future of Matt Garza

Last Tuesday, Chicago Cubs pitching ace Matt Garza was placed on the 60-day disabled list due to a stress reaction in the bone of his throwing elbow. This latest injury not only brings up questions about the Cubs’ rotation for the remainder of this season, but also next year.

With Garza done for the year and the only recognizable name in this rotation being Jeff Samardzija, the most logical action for the Cubs to take is keeping Garza for the final year of his contract next year and working out a deal at the 2013 deadline or in the upcoming offseason. Garza has shown an interest in potentially starting again before this season ends, but if the Cubs do that I am worried about the motives management has if they even consider allowing him to throw a warm-up pitch the remainder of the season.

Since there is little chance the Cubs could or would trade Garza in the offseason – as teams will be concerned with this most recent injury – the best option for the club remains to keep him on their opening day roster as their No. 1 starter for the 2013 season. He is still clearly an ace for any team with a 3.91 ERA and five wins in 18 starts despite all the injuries he suffered in 2012.

Unless Theo Epstein and company are able to make some blockbuster deal for Garza, the man needs to stay in Chicago one more year. First, because the rest of the rotation is horrible aside from Samardzija, but I am still not convinced he can be a to- tier guy – or even a No. 1 for that matter – in the Cubs’ rotation in the years to come with his inconsistency.

Secondly, Garza has battled injuries all season long and sitting the rest of the season and resting his elbow in the offseason can only help him heal faster so that he can be ready for spring training. With Garza turning 29 this November and having thrown just over 100 inningsi this season, I’m expecting a breakout year for Garza next year, maybe even All-Star worthy.

If he is able to have a season at all like he did in his first stint with the Cubs in 2011, Chicago could get some phenomenal prospects in return for Garza around the July 31 trade deadline next year.

So with that said, my ultimate prediction is that if Garza can bounce back, he will not be pitching a full 2013 campaign with the Cubs. A team will notice and need his dominant arm and will make a nice trade option to the Cubs near or way before the deadline. If not, he will clear waivers in August and be helping a team in a pennant race.

There is no way Garza finishes his tenure in Chicago next year unless he completely falters or is affected by more injuries that knock his trade value further into the gutter. In addition, even though I am a big Garza fan, I do not believe the Cubs should sign him to another contract after this one expires at the end of 2013 season. As I said earlier, he’s turning 29 and coming off an injury-plagued season. He only has a few more great years left in him and by signing him the Cubs’ management would basically be going against what they said at their first press conference; which is to pay for talent on the rise, not on past performance.

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