Here's how Epstein described his options:
"I think Matt Garza is exactly the type of pitcher that you want to build around," Epstein said. "He's a proven performer in the playoffs. I think last year he had his best season, all things being equal. It's hard to find a top-of-the-rotation guy, and if you can keep them around, I think that's always compelling for the club.
"That said, I've been honest with you guys that we're in a mode where we have to listen on everybody. If there's a way to improve the long-term outlook for this club in a significant manner, then we can't look past opportunities like that. We're not in a situation where we have to do anything with Garza, but generally we're in the business right now of taking our short-term assets and turning them into long-term assets."
That's what the Cubs did with Marshall, who will reach free agency next October unless he signs an extension with the Reds.
The Cubs have more time with Garza, acquired from the Rays by Chicago's previous regime. He was 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA and a career-high 197 strikeouts in his first season at Wrigley Field. His salary could top $8 million in arbitration, but he won't reach free agency until October 2013.
"In the case of Marshall ... we took a short-term asset -- one year of Sean Marshall -- and turned it into what we hope will be three long-term assets," Epstein said. "With regards to Matt Garza, perhaps nothing happens. Perhaps we're able to turn him into a long-term asset by extending him on a deal that makes sense for everybody. Or, we'll certainly listen to [offers], because there's always an active trade market for top-of-the-rotation guys with two years of club control."
For now, Garza is in a Cubs rotation that also includes Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, Carlos Zambrano and Wood.
Epstein said he would remain active in free agency and is open to starting pitchers, relievers and position players. Among starters, the Cubs have been linked in reports to free agents Jeff Francis and Paul Maholm. The Cubs reportedly struck a one-year deal with reliever Manuel Corpas on Thursday that is pending a physical. Epstein did not comment on Corpas on Friday.
The Cubs have also been discussing other trades, though Epstein said nothing else was "extraordinarily close" as of Friday.
"There are some things percolating," Epstein said. "I don't think we're done. I think we need to build some more depth on the starting front, both in the big leagues and the Minor Leagues, but it doesn't happen overnight. There's no button you can go press and add quality starting pitching depth to your organization. You have to really work hard at it and you have to make sacrifices to get it, like losing Sean Marshall."