matt garza cubsYou’re going to see a whole lot of “this could be Matt Garza’s last start with the Cubs” pieces today – as we’ve seen on the day of each of his starts over the past couple weeks – but I’d like to avoid that here. Yes, it could be his last start, but given the increasing chatter about the Cubs’ steep asking price, I don’t know that it’s fair to conclude that today’s start is any more likely to be his last with the Cubs than his next one. Or the next one.

All we know is that, because an extension between the two sides is unlikely at this point, and because the Cubs are long out of contention, they’ve got to trade Garza at some point this month if they want to capture the value he now offers. Garza is a short-term asset on a team that doesn’t need short-term (2013) assets. The Cubs need long-term pieces, and that necessitates a trade. It’s unfortunate, depending on your desire for the Cubs to keep Garza, but it is the reality.

That said, and against the backdrop of two rental pitchers already being dealt (Scott Feldman to the Orioles, Ricky Nolasco to the Dodgers), it’s fair to start trying to put a really specific price tag on Garza’s services for the remainder of 2013. We know that the Cubs want “a lot,” and want “top prospects,” but what is a reasonable return for a pitcher who is likely the best available this year at the Deadline … but who is a pure rental (i.e., a free agent at the end of the year)?

The Feldman and Nolasco comparisons are useful because they took place in the present market, but for reasons of ability/reliability/etc., they aren’t perfect comps for Garza. Therefore, maybe we can dip into the 2012 trade season for instruction on Garza’s present trade value.

Last year, the best rental pitcher moved was Zack Greinke, who went from the Brewers to the Angels for top prospect Jean Segura (quickly becoming a fixture in the Brewers’ lineup), and pitching prospects John Hellweg and Ariel Pena. At the time, Segura was the Angels’ top prospect, and was considered a top 75 prospect in all of baseball. Hellweg and Pena were top ten prospects in the system, with most services having Hellweg in the top five.

It was an excellent haul for Greinke, particularly in retrospect (at the time, some expected it would be even more). Although I can argue that Garza is “the Greinke” of this year’s rental trade class, I’m not going to argue that Garza offers as much value as Greinke did last year. Greinke had higher upside, and generally did not come with the same injury concerns that Garza does. That said, the two aren’t as far off as some would believe, and Greinke made a few million in 2012 more than Garza does this year – so that’s a minor consideration as well.

Indeed, folks are already speculating that the Cubs’ expected return on Garza is going to be something just shy of what the Brewers got last year for Greinke. It isn’t a perfect comparison, but we’re getting close.

If Greinke is an imperfect comparison on the high end, the Anibal Sanchez trade might be an imperfect comparison on the other end. When the Marlins traded Sanchez to the Tigers last year, Sanchez was long over most of the injury concerns that popped up early in his career, but wasn’t considered to offer quite as much upside as Garza does now (we could debate that point, but we’ve all been polluted by hindsight – I’m just offering my sense of the pitchers and the markets at the time). Sanchez made a couple million less than Garza does now, but you know the Marlins weren’t about to take on any cash to move him – the Cubs would be willing to do so in a Garza deal.

Where the Sanchez comparison really becomes difficult is in the nature of the trade. It wasn’t just Sanchez for prospects. It was Sanchez plus Omar Infante (a nice, cost-controlled infield piece at the time), and a slight trade-up in competitive balance draft picks for prospects. To be sure, the prospect return was pretty solid. The Tigers sent their top prospect, pitcher Jacob Turner (whose stock had slid some, but was still a top 50/100 prospect, at least), a good pitching prospect in Brian Flynn, and a good outfield prospect in Rob Brantly. Depending on your rankings service of choice, each of Flynn and Brantly were top ten prospects (back end) in the Tigers’ system. So, it was quite a haul for Sanchez and Infante.

Taking these comparisons together, you start to get a relatively clear picture of a reasonable demand on Garza: three top 10 organizational prospects, including at least one who is in the top 100 in all of baseball.

Considering also that last year’s market offered both Greinke and Sanchez (and Ryan Dempster, and Paul Maholm, and more), and this year’s market is already down two of the better available starters (Feldman and Nolasco), I don’t think using the Greinke/Sanchez frameworks is all that unreasonable. You can play around at the margins – two guys just barely in the top 100 instead of one in the top 50; three top 20 organizational prospects instead of two at the back of the top ten; young Major League players inserted; etc. – but that’s just about what the Cubs should be asking for, in terms of total value. (And, by all indications, that is, indeed, what they’re asking for.)

A price in that range is probably what the Cubs are currently sitting back, waiting for someone to meet. And until a team does, or until the Trade Deadline arrives, Garza will continue making “last starts” with the Cubs.

  • steve123

    Earlier someone mentioned the Angels as being a potential buyer in the market. Although their system is week, I found a trade that i would accept for Garza.
    Garza and Gregg or Navarro for:
    Nick Maronde LHP AA 3.86 ERA (#2 prospect )
    Kole Calhoun OF AAA .320 7HR (#5 prospect)
    R.J. Alvarez RHP A+ 2.78 (#13 prospect)
    Alex Yarbrough 2B A+ .324 10 HR (#18 prospect)

    -according to

  • Rebuilding

    I really do hope the FO has talked to Sveum about Garza being on a pitch count on a wet mound tonight

  • Don

    The best trade involving Garza is the trade that is not made. Resign Garza to a four year contract.

    • On The Farm

      Except Garza is looking for more than four years, he is going to want 5, and wont be cheap.

      • Rich H

        Dont forget the NTC

  • Michael

    Cubs talking to Garza about long term extension now.

  • Michael
  • babe ruth

    Matt Loosen throws 9 innings of o-hit ball for Daytona today!!!! He’s on a hotttt streak lately. maybe all these moves are lighting a fire under our minor leaguers , and making them think they could easily claim a rotation spot by getting hot latel.

  • Michael

    Could be a nice tatic to use to drive up the price.

    • AD

      Exactly, front office creating smoke to get what they want. Or the could genuinely decide that they’d like to hold on Garza. Worst case scenario, Shark and Garza are great number two and three starters. Pair them with Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson and you are a David Price type ace away from a pretty darn good rotation. Still think this is just smoke though.

    • Jp3

      I love that PJ Walters clearing waivers is dominating MLB Traderumors on the minute by minute updates as if any frickn body knows who PJ Walters is.

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  • James

    Bringing up a starting pitcher today to replace Hairston dosn’t make sense. Next week is the all-star game and there will be three days off to have the Cubs tired pitchers recover. I think Garza might be moved today. If Garza is moved today I also would expect one more of the Cubs starters to be moved by the deadline. The Cubs can sit back and take the best offer for Samardzija,Jackson,Wood, and Villanueva. The Cubs don’t have to move any of the four but if there overwhelmed by a team then can move one more starter. I’m also expecting the Cubs to sign one of the two Cuban starters that are out there. The starters that are out there for free agents after the season looks very week.

    • Crockett

      Sure it does. The 40 man is likely to be in more flux soon, and Raley already was on the 40 man and already has his arb clock started, so bring him up. Watkins, Lake, etc don’t have their clocks started. So wait for the All-Star break, see how the roster shakes out in the next day or three, and then re-evaluate who needs to be on the 25 man going forward.

  • BluBlud

    A good comp for the Sanchez trade would be an expected return for Garza + Barney. Infante is a better offensive player then Barney, barney better on defense, and any value that infante may have had over Barney is evened out or even bypassed when you consiider that Barney still has 4 years of control left, is much younger and at the least is a good utility player on a championship caliber team. Plus, there will be a tax on barney simply because he is the best arm available. A combination of Garza and Barney should net the Cubs more then what Florida got for Sanchez and Infante, the Cubs should expect no less. If it means holding out til the last hour, then so be it. Can worry about potential injuries. It’s more important to maximize the return.

    • BluBlud

      *Meant to say Tax on Garza*

      • Crockett

        I don’t disagree with this, but the two teams that have the talent to match that deal (Texas and Boston) have no need for a 2B…at all. I realize you’re most likely stating this as a hypothetical example, but this is why trade comparisons are so invariably flawed.

  • Lou Brown

    Nice outing by Loosen. Is he a legit prospect, or org filler? I noticed it was his second go-round at Daytona, after not doing so well at TN.

    • Cedlandrum

      He isn’t really filler, but he is getting too old for A+. He was hurt to start this year and then struggled. I could see him getting bumped back up and then moving quickly.

  • Kirbs414

    Just to get a ballpark on what the return will look like, if the Cubs were in contention and trying to pull Garza from another team, what do you think we would have to pay for him?

    Arismendy Alcantara
    Arodys Vizcaino
    Pierce Johnson

    Again, just to kind of get an idea. I know theres never a perfect match, but still.

    • X the Cubs Fan

      That would be about right but if im the other team im asking for Almora because in this scenario we wouldn’t be rebuilding.

    • Rebuilding

      I think that is too much. Alcantara is now arguably #5-7 in one of the Top 10 systems in baseball. Vizcaino and Johnson are both right in or near the Top 10. It’s very hard to do comparisons with the Cubs because we have so few arms in the upper minors. Maybe something like Alberto Cabrera, Johnson and Candelario or Villanueva

      • Kirbs414

        If you were to get something back from another team for Garza, isn’t that about what you’d want though? A 5-7 and two back end top 10’s? Add on top of that that two are pitchers.

        • Rebuilding

          No. If people think we are getting a Top 80-100 guy now (Alcantara), a Top 50 guy before he was injured (Vizcaino) and a fringe Top 100 guy when the season is over (Johnson) for a recently injured for a year, 3 month rental in Garza then I would submit people are going to be sorely disappointed when/if the trade goes down

          • Crockett

            Okay, a few things.

            Johnson is NOT a fringe top-100 guy. Do not delude yourself just yet.

            Also, Vizcaino’s value right now is severely depressed. One major elbow injury and a secondary, albeit more minor, issue with the same elbow.

            Alcantara is a very, very good player who is unlikely to play SS longterm. That reduces his value as a tradeable commodity by a good bit. It doesn’t reduce his internal value to the Cubs though because they already have a young SS in the majors and another at AA.

            • Kirbs414

              The point of my posting was to kind of show how ridiculous some of the people here are. They expect some sort of monumental return for Garza and complain about the over valuing of prospects when they themselves wouldn’t be willing to give up what they expect for Garza.

              • Crockett

                Well, that’s definitely true. I just don’t think you picked good examples. In reality, I think that would be a very fair return for Garza.

                Good 2B prospect.
                Good SP prospect.
                Young, lotto ticket SP prospect.

                Anyone who thinks that is a massive overpay is a huge homer…like you said.

                • Rebuilding

                  Or realistic

                • Jeremiah

                  Not to belittle your comment, but doesn’t his original post include a good 2B/SS prospect (alcantara), a good SP prospect (Vizcaino), and a young SP lotto ticket (Johnson)?

                  • Crockett

                    Who are you asking? PS – Johnson is the good SP prospect and Vizcaino is the lottery ticket.

              • On The Farm

                If my team was in a an actual race and I could get my hands on Garza I would trade Johnson, Alacantra, and another fringe OF guy, maybe Szczur.

                It is still hard to put in perspective though becuase most other teams have another pitching prospect or two to fall back on.Its hard to create a comparable given how weak our SP is.

            • Michael

              Alcantara will play 2nd not SS

            • Rebuilding

              If Johnson pitches as well as he has so far through the rest of the season like he has so far he most certainly will be on the fringe of the Top 100 and people who get paid more than I do agree.

              Vizcaino was a Top 20 prospect on some lists before his injury and is still relatively young. Yes, his value is down because of the injury, but basically him alone netted a guy having a better season than Garza this year, with no injury history and with more control.

              Alcantara has broken out this year and is putting up very solid numbers in a league he is too young for and may just be scratching the surface.

              If you honestly think we are getting anywhere near that kind of package for Garza then you will be disappointed.

  • X the Cubs Fan

    Jesse Sanchez ‏@JesseSanchezMLB 4h
    Lot of interest in RHP Tseng (TW), @MLB’s #29, but #Cubs have emerged as favorite. Expected to command at least $1.5M

    • X the Cubs Fan

      not quite done with IFA’s

  • frank hutch

    Really hoping the jays get involved for Garza. Really like some of their pitching prospects. Any chance for Sanchez?

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