Players hope Cubs extend Garza

CHICAGO -- To a man Monday, every Cub who heard about a possible contract extension for Matt Garza was hopeful the rumors were true.

With numerous scouts in the stands and Garza pitching what was presumed to be his last game for the Cubs on Monday, the pitcher was the center of attention prior to the game. Reports surfaced that Cubs management may have begun to change their stance on trading the 29-year-old pitcher. One source told ESPNChicago’s Jesse Rogers that there had been contract extension talks between the Cubs and Garza’s people.

“I don’t think any part of keeping him would be a bad move,” reliever James Russell said. “His personality in the clubhouse helps younger guys coming up. They see how hard he works and prepares for each start. He is a fun guy to have around, let alone a great pitcher every five days. He helps all of us stay loose and you need people like that.”

Some players were more cautious about the possibility.

“He is one of our best pitchers and would be another piece to the building puzzle,” Anthony Rizzo said. “Everything is just a rumor until it happens. The people who follow us know that we aren’t that far away (from contending). We have had some tough, tough losses and the bullpen has faltered a little bit at times. I think we are a couple pieces away from doing something special.”

Garza will be seeking at least a four-year deal if he becomes a free agent in November. The going rate for top-of-the-rotation pitchers was set by Anibel Sanchez, who signed a five-year $80 million contract with Detroit last December. Garza and his people will want at least that as a starting point in his next deal.

“He is a great pitcher,”Alfonso Soriano said. “If they sign him then we have him, (Jeff Samardzija, (Travis Wood, (Edwin Jackson. That is a very good rotation. I hope they do that for him and the team.”

Garza was being watched by scouts from Cleveland, Toronto, San Francisco, Texas and Boston on Monday night.