The sticky issue is likely to be the Cubs’ asking price. The North Siders have a lot of dead money on their books they’d like to move if they can, but their situation probably isn’t so bad that Theo Epstein and Co. are under orders to cut payroll this year. Plus, Garza is still in his arbitration eligibility period, so while he isn’t extremely cheap, he’s not so expensive that trading him as a salary dump move makes any sense. If the Cubs are interested in trading him, the goal would have to be bringing some good young talent into an organization that’s lacking in that area as they attempt to rebuild, and where the Yankees are concerned, that means one player would certainly be on the Cubs’ radar: Jesus Montero.
Frankly, the important question when considering the price for any attractive pitcher on the trade market is going to be “would you trade Jesus for them?” Does Garza fit that bill? As much as I’m intrigued by him, I’m not sure. He’s two years removed from free agency, and he isn’t likely to be particularly cheap over the next two seasons. That’s not the end of the world if you’re acquiring enough talent to make up for it, and based on his 2011 season Garza would certainly meet that criteria, but right now last season is an outlier in Garza’s career. That doesn’t mean he won’t repeat it, of course, but it does mean that you’re gambling on the projection of your scouting department while trading your best prospect/trade chip. For what it’s worth, Joel Sherman has reported that the Yankees would be interested in Garza.
Ultimately I think Garza is pretty much at the border of the “would you trade Jesus? question.” I can see arguments for doing the deal, and arguments against it, and as of now I don’t have a firm opinion on it. With questions this close, I’m generally inclined to defer to the opinion of the Yankees’ scouting department and the front office’s ability to construct a long-term organizational plan.
Though you have to admit, it would be fun to see Brian Cashman and Theo Epstein match up for a blockbuster trade.