Matt Garza vows to be ready for Opening Day

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Matt Garza didn’t make another start after July 19 this past season due to a stress reaction in his throwing elbow, but he’s hoping for better luck in 2013.

According to David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com, Garza hasn’t had any issues with his elbow since he resumed throwing earlier this month. Barring any setbacks, he fully expects to be ready for the start of the season.

“If spring training started tomorrow, I would be ready to go,” he said. “I’m not ready to pitch six innings today, but I will be ready to go when the season starts. I will be ready to go Opening Day, that’s guaranteed.”

Garza was mentioned as a trade candidate prior to the injury and he could be on the block again if he proves his health during spring training. The 29-year-old right-hander is arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter and can become a free agent following the 2013 season.

As of now, the Cubs’ rotation projects to include Garza, Jeff Samardzija and offseason additions Edwin Jackson, Scott Feldman and Carlos Villanueva. Scott Baker was also signed this offseason, but he will likely begin the season on the disabled list as he continues to make his way back from Tommy John surgery.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.