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.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.