Cubs not shopping pitcher Garza: Epstein
Club's president of baseball operations envisions ace sporting Chicago uniform in 2012
Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein says trade talk involving ace Matt Garza is overblown and he also still hopes to re-sign veteran reliever Kerry Wood.
Chicago has been listening to offers for Garza and would like top prospects in return, but Epstein insisted he's not being shopped.
"I can truly say more has happened in the media with this than has happened in reality," Epstein said. "There's no attempt to shop him. It's not an everyday endeavour for us. As we do with all our players, we're kind of weighing all our options to see what's best for the Cubs.
"Really, I think very highly of Matt Garza. He's a top-of-the-rotation type guy. I'm looking forward to him being on the mound for us this season, but we're just being transparent about the fact that, hey, we're in this for the long haul."
Epstein said he would like to talk to Garza this weekend, with the team hosting its annual fan festival. On Wednesday, the executive was part of the "Cubs Caravan" event, interacting with fans at several stops in the city.
Garza emerged as the Cubs' best starter last season after being acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay, going 10-10 despite a 3.32 earned-run average.
The 28-year-old right-hander would be an attractive target for a contender if the price is right. The Cubs would have to weigh the long-term benefits, but they certainly have enough arms to make a deal. Even with Carlos Zambrano gone, they have seven potential starters with Garza, Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Chris Volstad, Randy Wells, Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood.
"There's really been no change," Epstein said. "We're kind of doing the work, weighing our options. I hate to talk about it because we'd hate to ask the player to have to read about it, but we also want to be transparent as we undertake the process of trying to [rebuild] this organization for the long haul."
In the short term, he made it clear that he would like to retain Wood. The veteran returned to the Cubs for a second stint last winter on a $1.5 million, one-year deal even though he might have gotten more elsewhere.
Much has changed since then, with Jim Hendry getting fired as general manager and the organization undergoing a major overhaul following a 71-win season. One thing that hasn't changed, the new management team insisted, is the desire to keep Wood. General manager Jed Hoyer said this week that the Cubs offered Wood a "substantial" raise, but there is no agreement in place.
"We've said all along we really want to get this done," Epstein said. "I have a world of respect for Kerry. It should be a no-brainer."
The Garza trade talks and Wood's situation aren't the only issues hovering over the club. News broke last week that Chicago police were investigating an allegation that all-star shortstop Starlin Castro sexually assaulted a woman, an allegation that his attorneys have said is false.
Epstein declined comment about that situation.