matt garza chinTo even the casual observer, Matt Garza’s outing last night was impressive. He was showing pre-injury velocity, good breaking stuff, and he was getting plenty of swings and misses. Good, good, right?

Did scouts see the same thing that we did? According CBS’s Danny Knobler, at least one scout did. That scout, who partly joked to Knobler that he’d take Garza “NOW,” said that the velocity looked good, the stuff looked good, the ability to throw all of his pitches looked good, and Garza wasn’t “babying” his breaking pitches. All very good signs.

Obviously it’s great to hear that scouts were impressed, and it would be great for the Cubs to have the option of shopping Garza to the highest bidder in July. But don’t let the buzz get to your head just yet.

Even if Garza is completely healthy, and even if teams have no fear that he will remain healthy throughout the rest of the season, there is still a reason to clutch your prospects tightly when dealing for Garza.

He’s merely a rental.

By the time the Cubs seriously shop Garza – if they do at all – there will be just two or two and a half months left in the season. Garza might give your team 10 to 12 starts over that stretch. How much is even the best pitcher worth for just a handful of starts? In the days of the prior CBA, a team could send off a top prospect or two for Garza, and resign itself to the fact that, even if it couldn’t re-sign Garza after the season, the team would still get a compensatory draft pick or two for its trouble.

Now, players traded midseason do not qualify for draft pick compensation. So, a team trading for Garza is getting nothing more than just those handful of starts and a shot at the playoffs.

That said, teams greatly value that shot at the playoffs. And a guy like Garza very much could be the difference between playing in October or sitting at home. Indeed, Garza may prove to be the single best trade chip available on the market for improving your 2013 team.

These competing concepts make the Garza value proposition difficult to articulate. Team A might be willing to part with no more than a top ten system prospect for him. Team B might be willing to part with a top 100 overall prospect.

It seems like, assuming health and effectiveness, the majority of interested trade partners are likely to fall into the latter category. And, if their recent trading history tells us anything, we can safely assume that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer aren’t going to pull the trigger on a Garza trade until they feel like they’ve maximized value (indeed, sometimes they hold out to a fault).

Hopefully this year it works.

… if they don’t sign him to an extension, that is.



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