A Couple Matt Garza Bits – His Time with the Cubs, and the Rangers’ Perspective

matt garza chinFor better or worse, Matt Garza’s name will be included in trade rumors probably until he’s traded or until the Trade Deadline passes. (Or until he’s extended, I suppose.) As a player under contract for 2013, only, on a team that does not projected to be a playoff contender in 2013, trade rumors are simply the reality.

With that in mind, there are a couple of Garza-related bits I wanted to share.

First, a backdrop piece from MLB Trade Rumors, which looked at the key “non-moves” of 2012. Obviously, that included the lack of a midseason Garza trade:

This may have been a non-move that was forced by circumstance, rather than a conscious decision by the Cubs to stand pat. Garza was the subject of many rumors heading into last July’s trade deadline and he may well been dealt had he not suffered a stress reaction in his pitching elbow in late July, an injury that sidelined him for the last two months of the season. Garza has begun throwing again and says he will be ready for Opening Day. If he’s healthy, the trade winds will undoubtedly again swirl around Wrigley Field as Garza is just a year away from free agency.

The Cubs will get lesser value for Garza now or in July than they would’ve last year (when Garza was still controllable for a full year and two months) but one wonders if the club will look to move Garza at all. The signing of Edwin Jackson was a sign that the rebuilding Cubs may be looking to contend sooner rather than later, and if Garza is healthy and effective in early 2013, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer could look to extend the righty. A trade would only be pursued if Garza indicates that he wouldn’t be willing to re-sign, or the Cubs could simply trade Garza at the deadline and then try to bring him back in free agency.

So far, we haven’t picked up on many – if any – indications that Garza and the Cubs are mutually agreeable to a long-term extension. Assuming Garza proves he’s healthy in Spring Training, I remain equally open to the idea of a trade or a reasonable extension, but the situation is still a difficult one for the Cubs. And, frankly, for Garza.

If the Cubs do look to deal Garza in the Spring, a popular destination (one frequently cited by Bruce Levine) could be Texas. Depending on how the rest of the offseason shakes out for the Rangers (is Lance Berkman it?), they could be looking for an upgrade somewhere come Spring Training. It could be in the rotation, and by the Spring, there tend not to be too many upper end options available in trade. In other words, I will go so far as to say that a Garza/Rangers trade in the Spring is not at all implausible.

And it looks like Rangers fans are confronting that possibility as well. I often find it interesting to see another fan base’s take on a Cubs player when trade rumors swirl, and the Dallas SB Nation site recently had a piece on the possibility of a Garza trade. Among those thoughts:

Garza made just 18 starts for the Cubs in 2012, pitching 103 and 2/3 innings, striking out 96 and walking 32, while posting a 3.91 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. Without question, Garza is a talented pitcher, and is a capable No. 2 starter in most rotations, and an excellent No. 3 starter.

Elbow injuries, however, are scary, and that’s exactly what prevented Garza from pitching in August and September, and it’s what precluded the Cubs from trading him down the stretch. Garza, though, was given a clean bill of health from doctors earlier in the offseason.

Acquiring Garza wouldn’t satisfy a need for the Rangers, but instead, it would give the Rangers depth in the rotation, and, health permitting, too many pitchers come August.

Whether or not Texas ends up being seriously interested in Garza come March remains to be seen, but given Texas’ interest in Greinke and previous interest in James Shields, it seems likely that the Rangers could very well show interest come spring.

So, again, a Spring trade here is plausible. And it also sounds like, if this piece is to be credited, Rangers fans would view a Garza acquisition in a highly favorable light. That, in and of itself, means relatively little. But it’s reflective of an attitude about Garza’s ability and attractiveness outside of our own bubble.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

66 responses to “A Couple Matt Garza Bits – His Time with the Cubs, and the Rangers’ Perspective”

  1. Ron Swanson

    I suspect Theo has scenarios for the future that include Garza and some that do not. Assuming health, it all comes down to the right offer.

  2. Bigg J

    If we can can get Graza for Olt and a mid/high prospect I would be sold. If we can swoop in and grab Holland as well and flip Wood to them it would be a successful offseason in my eyes, but that happening is probably 0%

    1. Seth

      What about Holland and Olt for Garza and Wood?

      1. Marc

        Yes please.

  3. daveyrosello

    Garza for Anthony Rendon and change.

  4. ActionJackson

    Well I would love to hold on to Garza but being a team with not alot of strength on the offensive/positional player (besides a few) and a farm system that has dramatically got better (but not alot of trade chips unless you want to deplete the system) I can only see us getting better by trading players like Garza. If we want to upgrade at other positions we are going to have to trade Garza. It is not like another team is going to give us a possible young stud player for Vitters or DeJesus and it doesn’t make sense RIGHT NOW to trade Baez or Soler or Almora when we are finally buiding our own solid farm system and players with their potential our players we are trying to get back. I also don’t see us unloading our Farm for one player like Price or Stanton because it just doesn’t make sense at this point in time. So trading Garza or from our plethra of pitching is how we are going to get better and possibly obtain upgrades at 3b or CF or a corner outfield spot as well as add possibly young standout pitching prospects to our system for our own use. Also, players you get back from these types of trades are players you can add to trades for players like Price or Stanton next year etc…

    The key for the Cubs is to upgrade in all positions by dealing from their strength which in turn will set them up for the future as well as provide more chips to deal from for players such as Stanton and Price etc…… That is why I feel trading for Porcello would be huge since you could possibly be losing Garza to trade or free agency as well as trading Baker and Feldman at the tade deadline. By loading up on pitching you can still have a Shark, Porcello, Jackson, Villanueva, Wood (fill someone in) as a rotation after trading those three or for next year and still have a respectable rotation.

  5. Jono

    Up until this off season, I was all for trading garza for the typical rebuilding reasons. But we’re seeing how hard it is to land quality, decently young, free agent starting pitchers. Keep up ‘em when you got ‘em. Garza should still be affective in 2015 the when the team will probably start competing

  6. Rmoody100

    Do you think trading Garza for a decent prospect or two would turn him completely off to the idea of resigning with the Cubs next season? Because trading Garza, trading for Price and then resigning Garza would leave our rotation in pretty great shape with Price, Garza, Shark, and Jackson with the final spot being Vizcaino/Baker/Feldman or whoever else is left on our staff.

  7. HotRuta

    His value would increase if he learned how to field …

  8. Seamhead

    My understanding is that the obstacle for an extension involved Garza’s insistence on a no-trade clause, which Theo won’t give.

    If that is in fact true, then a trade is inevitable and would explain why the Cubs have stockpiled starting pitching to the extent that they have this offseason.

    If the Cubs do deal Garza, they absolutely must get quality pitching prospects back in trade, because this is the key area of organizational weakness and Garza is our only blue-chip trade prospect (aside from young players or prospects who are integral to our future) that can get this kind of return.

  9. Edwin

    My quick calculation on Matt Garza:

    I like to look at trade value based on percieved surplus value. It’s a simple formula: How much the player is worth (WAR*$ value per win) less amount owed to the player.

    Matt Garza has had one season with a WAR around 5. Other than that, he’s been ok. Last season he only pitched 100 innings, but he was on pace for a WAR between 2.5-3.5. Coming off injury, I think the most optimistic I can be about him is 3.5.

    The $/Win is probably changing due to the new CBA agreement, but for now, lets just go with $5.5M per win.

    Garza was paid $9M last season. I forget how much he’ll be paid this season, so I’ll go with $10, but I’m sure it’s more.

    So the formula works out at (3.5*5.5) – 10 = $9.25M surplus value.

    Going off of this: http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2009/3/3/777412/al-west-farm-system-values Garza would be worth a pitcher in the top 75-100 range.

    Obviously this is a model with a lot of moving parts, so feel free to change whatever values you want. A lot of it could be out of date. Still, the point is, Garza by himself probably isn’t worth any type of big name prospect.

    1. Edwin

      If the Cubs are willing to eat salary, this changes things. However, the longer it takes the Cubs to trade Garza, the less he is worth to other teams. So even if the Cubs eat all of Garza’s salary, if they wait until the trade deadline to trade Garza, his value still might not bring back a top prospect.

      1. Capitol Cubbie

        True, and trading him at the deadline does away with a draft pick he would be attached to if traded now (correct me if I’m wrong?). That said, you’re more likely to have desperate teams/teams with injuries who at this point are content with what they have, perhaps driving up his price.

        1. Edwin

          Agreed. You could add the value of the possible pick the team would get, but since it’s likely Garza doesn’t get traded until mid season anyway, I didn’t bother.

          I’m sure there are some “desperation” deals done around the deadline, but those aren’t typical, and the model wasn’t designed to predict those. It’s more to get a general starting point of what kind of prospect Player A might be worth. You can set your floor and ceiling expectations from there.

    2. Kyle

      Way too many moving parts to make this model viable.

      The two most important ones in this case make Garza more valuable than the calculation above would imply:

      1) $/WAR isn’t linear. There’s more value in getting WAR concentrated in a smaller amount of roster spots and playing time. As a well above-average player, Garza gets a value boost from that.

      2) The value of a win isn’t the same to every team. A team like Texas, which projects right into the 85-95 win sweet spot, places a higher value on a marginal win in the immediate future than the average team. Garza’s value to them gets a boost from that as well.

      1. Edwin

        How you want to play around with the values is your choice. If you want to adjust to $/WAR to adjust for points 1 and 2 above, go for it. I mean, you can project whatever you want for Garza’s value this upcoming season.

        For your specific points:

        1. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/linear-dollars-per-win-again/

        2. I agree, but I don’t think that the marginal value deviates enough from the normal value of win enough to make a huge overall differance in the trade value.

        Again, you can incorporate both of your points into the model, and figure out what surplus value you think Garza has.

      2. Boots2asses

        If we keep Garza and he doesn’t have a great year. It’s most likely if he goes into free agency it will drive his price down bcuz of the draft pick. I think we would get him cheeper. IMO

  10. Kevin

    I don’t think the no trade clause is the sticking point. This will be Garza’s 3rd year with the team. He has 2 years from 10/5 rights, if he stays with the Cubs. So it has to be about the $$$ Garza was asking for.

  11. Jack Weiland

    For what it’s worth, I have a very good friend who is a very smart dude and a diehard Rangers fan, and we’ve talked about Garza a million times. He thinks Olt+Luke Jackson (or a similarly valued lower level arm) would make sense from the Rangers perspective, and agrees that the holdup on this is Garza’s health.

    Just in case we want to credit that Rangers’ fan frame of mind. They are very much intrigued by the prospect of adding Garza, and willing to part with significant pieces to do so.

    Do with that what you will.

  12. james

    The Cubs wont get much for Garza unless they trade him to a team and he agrees to sign an extension with that team. At this moment a Garza for Olt trade dosn’t make sense for the Rangers. If Garza was locked up for 2 to 3 years then it dose make sense. Also I think Alfonso Soraino will be traded in the near future. I know Soraino turned down trades to the Orioles and the Giants last year. I have to think it has to be getting to Soraino that he isn’t wanted by the Cubs. I still wonder if a deal with Orioles could be in the works and that Soraino might now except that deal. I looked at the Dempster ordeal last year. Dempster couldn’t go were he wanted to go and the media was killing him. I got to think it has to be playing on Soraino also.

    1. Jack Weiland

      I don’t agree with that. They’re a team that is very much in contention, is clearly looking to add pitching, have a blocked prospect at a position of need for the Cubs … it makes tons of sense.

      They’d probably like to extend him as well … but on what basis does it not make sense? That he’s only signed for this year? They’re a serious WS contender as is, Garza could make that even more realistic.

  13. james

    With Garza coming off a injury do the Rangers take a chance on that . I really can’t see how they can. Theres other pitchers out there that the Ranagers could get for Olt. Pitchers that wont be free-agents after the season. Garza hasn’t proved himself as a ace. Garza is a good pitcher when healthy. I just don’t see the Rangers unless there is a long term contract. Look at teams this year looking for thirdbasemen. Teams are willing to give up alot for thirdbasemen. The Rangers should be able to get more for Olt then Garza.

    1. Jack Weiland

      Yes. This is why the deal hasn’t happened yet. If/when Garza is healthy again on a mound in spring training, that changes.

      And who are these other pitchers they could get for Olt? Who are these teams willing to give up a lot for third basemen? Name names please!

  14. Me

    If the Cubs deal Garza I think they need to get a pitcher and 3rd base prospect back at least. Two places that make the most sense are the Tigers because of Castellanos but they do not have a need for a front line pitcher. So Texas makes the most sense to me and I think if the can get Martin Perez, Mike Olt, and a lesser prospect for Garza they should pull the trigger

  15. james

    I can’t see teams asking for Garza first from the Cubs. I would have to think that teams would be asking for Jeff Samardzija. Again it has to do with Garza being a free-agent after this season and his injury. To get the package of prospects from the Rangers you might have to trade Jeff for Olt and Perez. There just is to many better options for the Rangers then Matt Garza. There got to be teams lineing up to get a young thirdbasemen like Olt.

  16. cheryl

    We’ll know more in a litttle over a month. Hard to believe most teams will have pitchers report on February 13. Wonder what will happen with Bourne?

    1. Mick

      Jason? According to Conklin, “You’re U.S. Government property. You’re a malfunctioning $30 million weapon. You’re a total goddamn catastrophe.”

      1. DarthHater

        Hey, the Cubs have $30 million to spare. Why not take a flyer?

        1. Mick

          Bourne or Bourn, either way, by the time the Cubs are prepared to compete both will be malfunctioning multi-million dollar weapons.

  17. Rizzofanclub

    I would take Martin Perez OR Mike Olt and be very happy in a trade for Garza.

  18. james

    To ansewer the question on teams that would line up for Olt. The White Sox, the Pirates, the A’s, the Twins, the Diamondbacks to name a few. All those teams have pitching they could offer for a young thirdbasemen. I do think the Cubs will move a starter by or during spring training. The Cubs do have a surplus of pitching and not enough room for everybody. Baker will more then likely start the season on the DL. I hope I’m wrong about Garza for Olt. I would love to see Olt on the Cubs. I just don’t see it.

  19. JR

    I wish there was a way the Cubs could work out a deal with the Rangers contingent on garza staying healthy. If Garza goes down mid year with a serious injury the Cubs have to send cash and/or agreed to prospects back. This would take the risk down for the Rangers and still help the Cubs get upper level prospects. Even if Garza looks awesome in Spring Training he’s still a big risk coming off of elbow issues.

  20. james

    I agree JR. The best bet on Garza is to see if he healthy enough by the all-star break then maybe you trade him. Then again let him play out the season and if he healthy try to resign him or let an another team pick him up and the Cubs should take that draft pick from that team. It has to be hard to trade a pitcher coming off a elbow injury and who will be a free agent after the season.

  21. Jolt

    I know some folks want to extend Garza, while most want/are of the opinion that he will be traded.

    Personally, I want him traded because the Cubs could greatly use the players he’d likely yield in return. That being said, if he proves to be healthy and pitches well, what’s to stop the Cubs from signing him as a free agent after 2013? Obviously they have osme degree of interest in extending him, but it appears they feel trading him would be more valuable ot the future. Why not trade and then sign him after the season, assuming he’ll test the market?

  22. Marc

    Who did Mike Olt bang that he got to be on this pedestal he’s on? There’s as much to dislike as there is to like with him.

    Leonys Martin would be the position player I try to grab from them…Would love to grab Holland or Perez somehow.

    1. Marc

      As a pure aside that adds nothing:

      I’ve always felt that since the tragic giveaway of the great Chris Archer and Hak Ju Lee, keys to the Rays empire, Cubs fans have held a little grudge against Garza. Basically I feel like this fanbase looks at him as a guy who owes us prospects rather than the very good pitcher and pitching talent that he is.

      I’m borderline on keep or sell…Obviously it depends on the deal, because I think the acquiring team should be paying a premium. If you forecast ahead to the 2014 FA market there’s a pretty decent case to be made that he’s the most desirable pitcher in the bunch, especially if he bounces back from that non-surgery elbow injury that remains such a major threat.

      1. Chaz

        Huh? We made out easily on that deal. Some people at the time were upset we had to give up our farm for him but others realized a prospect is just that, a prospect.

        No one is bitter towards Garza. He’s a great clubhouse guy and an asset. Which is why it may be smart to trade him

    2. UAFoo

      We need a future 3rd basemen and Olt has not played in the bigs yet, but he is way better then Vitters and we are not keeping Stewart past this year as perminant 3rd baseman.

      I have also been on the get Holland bandwagon. I say Garza, Wood, Vitters, McNutt, and mid/high prospect for Olt and Holland. We need a quality lefty starter. We are full of righties. I say forget about Porcello, Holland is way better. Then flip Soriano to the Phils for Brown (Phillies need an OF even though they say they don’t) I can see something big going down with the Tiger and Cubs though since Tigers need a closer and a 2nd baseman and why not go for the gold glove winner while his selling price is high?

      1. Marc

        Olt’s glove is way better than Vitters’, but the bats could be about even or even in Vitters’ favor.

      2. Gcheezpuff

        Vitters and McNutt don’t hold much value right now, but would need to be added to the rangers 40 man roster if this trade went down. I can’t see the rangers making space on their 40 man in your 4 for 2 offer… Plus I can’t see them wanting to take on both Vitters and McNutt, though both descent prospects, they both could be on the cusp of being a bust. You solved the cubs roster problems, but would create issues for Texas.

  23. Chaz

    Lets say the cubs do not trade Garza before the season starts and the cubs look to deal him just before the trade deadline. Wouldn’t it be in the best interest of the cubs to not trade him at that time unless you get a nice prospect back?

    Because at that point the cubs could keep Garza, give him a qualifying offer for one year during the offseason, which he’ll most likely reject and take the 1st pick of some other team.

    Or, teams would not give him the contract he is looking for and have to settle with the cubs again for less money. Possible?

    1. blublud

      You could have used the same argument for Dempster. Teams would prefer to trade that player for prospects that have some minor league games played, because they can better judge whether those prospect are legit or not. Compensation round picks have a very low chance of ever becoming an average player, better yet a star. Thats not to say they can’t become stars, just a low probability. If they can trade Garza for 1 or 2 good, and/or a couple fringe prospects, ins’t that better then one draft pick.

      1. Chaz

        Wouldn’t have worked for Dempster because he may have accepted the 1 year qualifying offer of $13mill. Also, we really didn’t realize how the new CBA agreement would affect Free agents during the offseason and now we see that with Bourn, Rivera and Lohse. This will technically be the first July deadline where teams/players realize the consequences of trading before the deadline.

        I do agree with you on having 1-2 good prospects over another teams sandwich pick though. Problem is, right now we can get a 75-100 top prospect out of Garza because a team gets a full year of control. What will happen to his trade value if a team only gets him for 2-3 months?

  24. baseballet

    One thing that worries me about holding on to Garza is his seeming mental yips about fielding bunts. He seems to have one of those mental blocks that prevent him from throwing a fielded ball to first base. I have not heard anything about him having corrected this.
    I would think teams would be able to exploit to a greater degree next season, now that his yips have been exposed. It’s one of the reasons that I think the Cubs need to trade rather than extend him.

    1. Marc N.

      This is hardly a reason to trade him, but I’m more curious as to why they would announce Garza fixing his defensive problems during the winter. How often can/will teams bunt on him anyway? Wouldn’t Rizzo and hopefully a good 3B be able to help that situation out better than an old Lee or LaHair?

  25. Mike Taylor (no relation)

    We could send Soriano with Garza to Texas. They need a bat to replace Hamilton and I believe Soriano is a better defender. Lance Berkman would DH/1B and I believe we could get equal to or less than Moreland (or Brandon Snyder) and Olt.

    1. hutch

      How many guys can texas take on who cant play any defense? No way

  26. Lou

    Garza to Cleveland. Given that they’re apparently going for it by keeping Cabrera, signing Swisher, keeping Jimenez, Garza would fit perfectly provided the Indians could acquire him before the start of the season. On a one year deal, he would fit into a rotation that consists of one year of Myers and Jimenez, Bauer and Masterson. I would also trade Barney and would like a return of Kipnis, Hagadone, and McAllister.

  27. Voice of reason

    I said it before and I will say it again… The rangers will not trade olt for garza.

    First of all the rangers need to want to trade for a starter which we have not heard that they are pursuing. Then, if they were, there are free agent starters they can sign.

    If they pass on a free agent starter then they could trade for a starter. They could get a better starter than garza without trading olt!

    Garza missed the second half of last year, makes too much money and is in the final year of his contract.

    Best could happen is he stays healthy and the cubs extend him.

    1. Gcheezpuff

      The rangers were seriously in on Greinke and were rumored to have interest in Garza in the past. They have been looking to add another starter and have been shopping Olt. Not sure how you don’t see a fit if Garza shows he is healthy in the spring. I would even venture to say it possible the rangers have hesitated on pulling the trigger on any big trades already because they prefer garza and are waiting to see if he is healthy. As for Olt, he is a highly rated 3rd base prospect that hasn’t proved himself at the MLB level yet. I think you are valuing the prospect to high and undervaluing a top of the rotation starter with a history of success in the AL East.

  28. Fastball

    I personally think the Rangers will sign Lohse in about 2 or 3 weeks. They can get him for this season and wait to see if Garza hits free agency. They don’t have to give up any prospects like Olt going that route. It makes sense even if they lose a draft pick or two. Cash for Garza and Lohse vs giving up blue chip prospects and accepting draft pick losses. I would rather have Olt who ML ready than concede and have to wait on a draft pick to show up in 3 years if lucky. I would love for them to trade for Garza but it doesn’t make sense for them to do so with Lohse out there waiting. He is a better bet than Garza for this year due to the simple fact Garza broke down last year and there are no guarantees.

    1. Voice of reason

      You hit the nail on the head on each point. Where have you been?? Lol… I’ve been trying to et this point across for quite some time!!

    2. Gcheezpuff

      No guarantee Garza makes it to free agency as he will more then likely be traded and his new team could extend him, plus if you sign Lohse this year you give up a draft pick and then another on if you sign Garza next season. If the rangers want Garza they will trade for him this year with the hope of extending him.

      1. Voice of reason

        Give up a draft pick who could become as solid of a prospect as olt or trade olt himself?

        The rangers will keep olt and give up the draft pick. That’s a no brainer! Plus, lohshe didn’t miss the second half of the season with arm trouble.

        People act like garza is the last starter on the face of the earth. The rangers can find another team that will trade them a starter. A starter that didn’t miss the second half of last year.

  29. Fastball

    If I was Theo I would sign Garza to a 3 year deal and give him a limited no trade clause. Let him pick 5 teams that are a no go for him. Chances are they won’t be teams who would be in the market for him at the deadline. Then he has real value and brings back the propects we are all hoping for.

  30. Fastball

    I have been doing the Johnny Quest World Traveler gig the past week. Getting on here in airports like Heathrow has been it. Thank goodness I remembered to activate my international package on my cell this time. I’m pretty interested in this Porcello and Baltimore talk. I haven’t heard any news from the states except a few tid bits here and there. Is there any meat to that story?

    1. DarthHater

      To my knowledge, no meat so far. John Arguello at Cubs Den thinks the rumor has no legs.

    2. Voice of reason

      I like porcello, but seriously, how many starters do we need?