Cubs and Matt Garza avoid arbitration with one-year, $9.5 million deal

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The Cubs and Matt Garza have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $9.5 million contract. Garza’s agency, CAA Baseball, broke the news via Twitter and added that the deal includes some performance-based incentives. The two sides were able to work out a deal prior to an arbitration hearing scheduled for today.

Garza requested $12.5 million and was offered $7.95 million from the Cubs when arbitration figures were exchanged earlier this month, so they settled for a little under the midpoint of $10.225 million. Presumably the incentives give him an opportunity to make up the difference.

Garza, who remains under team control through 2013, posted a 3.32 ERA and 197/63 K/BB ratio over 198 innings with Chicago last season. It looks like the rebuilding Cubs will hang on to the 28-year-old right-hander for now, but he figures to be a prominent name on the block as the trade deadline approaches in July.

Nick Markakis leads all NL outfielders in All-Star voting

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I would hope by now that I no longer have to preface All-Star talk with my usual “none of this matters” disclaimers, but please keep all of that in mind when I mention that Nick Markakis is leading all National League outfielders in All-Star voting.

Markakis, with 1,173,653 votes, has surpassed the slumping Bryce Harper in that category. Harper has 1,002,696 votes. The third place outfielder is Matt Kemp of the Dodgers with 925,697. Fourth place — Charlie Blackmon of the Dodgers — is like 300,000 votes back of Kemp.Yes, Markakis, Harper and Kemp may be the starting NL outfield. Brandon Nimmo — not on the ballot — should be grumpy, but he’ll get his chance I’m sure.

The thing about it: Markakis, for as unexpected as his appearance may be on this list, deserves to at least be in the top three. He’s second in WAR among National League outfielders behind Lorenzo Cain. He’s slowed down a good bit in June and he’s coming off of a 2017 season in which he had a 96 OPS+ and 0.7 WAR, but he’s having quite an outstanding season. I write that mostly so that there is a record of it come October and we’ve all forgotten it.

Seriously, though, good for Markakis, who has never made an All-Star Game. Good for Kemp too for that matter, who most people assumed was a walking — well, limping — corpse heading into this season. Good for Harper because anything that can keep up the guise of him having a good year when, in reality, he’s really not, will help his confidence as he heads into free agency.

Finally, good for the American League, who will likely get to face a far, far inferior National League team next month in Washington.

The rest of the voting: