Surprise: Brewers Agree to Four-Year, $52 Million Deal with Matt Garza (UPDATE)

matt garza shockedProving once again that not all baseball transactions can be predicted by even the wildest speculators …

Today, the Milwaukee Brewers reportedly agreed to terms with free agent starter Matt Garza on a four-year, $52 million deal. If that contract looks familiar, it’s the one the Cubs signed the younger/healthier (but notably less effective) Edwin Jackson to just a year ago. The deal is pending a physical, which in the case of Garza, is no mere procedural requirement. As we know all too well, Garza has had elbow issues in the past.

Still, that deal for Garza is interesting, given the dearth of pitching talent on the market this year, and the fact that he took it to go to the Brewers, of all teams. Given their future projections, I’m going to guess that the Brewers outbid the other suitors. Was the market really that soft for Garza? Are the health concerns really that severe? On its face, this looks like a great deal for the Brewers, all things considered (not the least of which is the fact that Garza is not tied to draft pick compensation). Makes you wonder how much (or little) Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez are going to be able to get.

It’s amazing to think that, a year ago, the extension figures that arguably made sense for Garza and the Cubs were much, much higher. I still like the Jackson deal, but, boy, this Garza contract puts it in a new light. Kudos to the Brewers, I guess.

As for whether it makes any sense for the Brewers … well, they do get Ryan Braun back this year, and have a nice offensive core. But, to my eye, they’re clearly an organization on the downswing, and Garza doesn’t change that. Perhaps Garza becomes an eventual flippable piece for the Brewers.

Garza to the Brewers is good for the Jeff Samardzija market, should the Cubs decide to go that way. The Brewers were never going to be trading for Samardzija, but other potential Garza suitors might. Thus, the market for Samardzija didn’t shrink today, and one of the competing assets just went off the board.

The best news of all? Now we might get to regularly see this …

… without it hurting the Cubs.

UPDATE: Something I just tweeted, because maybe I’m unfairly overvaluing Garza while undervaluing Jackson:

UPDATE 2: Well this is really bizarre. The Brewers went so far as to release an official statement denying the existence of a deal just yet:

So, so many things are weird about that. First, when was the last time you can remember a team going to the trouble of releasing an official statement denying a deal when it’s been reported in the media like Rosenthal reported earlier? I suppose it has happened, but it’s really rare, as far as I can remember. Furthermore, the Brewers confirmed the negotiations in the official statement. That’s just so very weird.

The only conclusion here is that an agreement is in place, pending the physical, and the Brewers really, really don’t want fans to jump on them if they decide Garza has flunked the physical. Or, perhaps they were planning on agreeing to the deal, and then trying to pressure Garza to take a lower salary when they inevitably saw things about which they could complain in the physical – and now they’ll look like jerks for doing it, since the report is already out there. In any case, the whole thing is bizarre. The deal seems low for a pitcher of Garza’s talent, especially when you consider that the Brewers aren’t expected to be a competitive team, and you’d think they would have to outbid the market for someone like Garza. Hopefully, for Garza’s sake, this is all much ado about nothing, his health is fine, and the deal goes through as reported.

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

165 responses to “Surprise: Brewers Agree to Four-Year, $52 Million Deal with Matt Garza (UPDATE)”

  1. ari gold

    Holy cow. Didn’t see that contract coming. Teams must have been really turned off by the medicals.

  2. cubsfan1594

    I’d like to say we will be seeing him a lot now, but you never know because Garza is always on the DL

  3. mdavis

    only thing i can think of is that the brewers were willing to give him 4 years, while others werent, and he took the security instead of the extra money?

  4. Fishin Phil

    I am truly looking forward to the first time the Cubs face Garza. I really liked him, but his propensity to launch balls into the stands on the first base side would really tickle me if he was doing it for someone else.

  5. Fishin Phil

    BTW, great choice of pics Brett.

  6. BD

    I wonder if they offered the most years. Maybe most teams were only interested in 1/2 years and/or options.

  7. Jon

    I don’t know what this does to the Ubaldo JImenez market, but if he can be had for anything close, the Cubs should make that move.

    1. ari gold

      Ubaldo was horrible until the 2nd half of last year. With messed up mechanics and a quickly diminishing FB I wouldn’t go anywhere near him.

      1. Jon

        An article on fangraphs discusses Ubadlo’s demonstrated ability to remain effective even with diminished velo on this FB.

        1. Jon

          Interesting nugget in there that Ulbado has never missed a MLB start. So obviously that can change in the blink of the eye, but he’s been pretty much healthy his entire career, to this point….

      2. Patrick G

        Also draft pick compensation. Thanks, but no thanks

    2. MightyBear

      No, they shouldn’t.

      1. Jon

        You are right. Gotta look out for Tommy’s check book.

        1. BT

          That’s why we are against it. We are worried about Tommy’s check book.

          1. Jon

            Well, I’ve offered a helluva more insight on why I think Jiminez would be a good target vs Mighty Bear. So if you give me a pointless one liner, I’ll give you one back.

            1. aaronb

              No unless Jiminez is still a prospect.

    3. cubzfan

      I agree. If Jimenez can be had for something like 3×14, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

      1. Serious Cubs Fan

        No way. 3years $14 mil Jimenez? No Thanks. Loss of draft pick (more importantly slot money) + the loss in velocity.

        Yes the peripherals look solid but I’m buying into his good half season last season

      2. Xruben31

        I’d be more interested in Bronson Arroyo for 2 years.

    4. Jason P

      Projections have his ERA in the low-mid 4′s in the next 3-4 years. I think we can probably produce that internally with a guy like Hendricks, Rusin, Cabrera or Joksich.

    5. Voice of Reason


      In the other thread you said that #4 starters get close to $15 million dollars per year.

      With your ultimate wisdom, is Garza a #5 starter then?

      1. Jon

        Garza is a 3 at best in this point of his career and has medical concerns. Nice try, VOR.

        1. Voice of Reason

          In another thread, Jon typed today:

          Really you need to change your name to “Voice of Fantasy Land” if you really think you could get a 25 year old, #2 potential starter(call him whatever you want) for 15 million a year.
          #4 starters can get close to 15 million a year. You have no clue about the current day market.

          Jon needs to change his name to “I know nothing about the current day market”.

          1. Jon

            And Linceecum(whatever you want to call him, a #6 starter?) got 20 million a year. Granted a shorter deal.

            What’s your point?

            1. Joshua Edwards

              Jon and VOR: if the two of you would talk to each other without the incessant name-calling your baseball opinions might actually be readable. And it would better serve the community.

              There are ways to disagree with someone else’s opinions without assuming they are stupid. Some mutual respect for a fellow fan goes a long way.

              1. DarthHater

                Holy shit! An ACTUAL voice of reason!

              2. ssckelley

                Just sit back, grab some popcorn, and enjoy the show.

                1. On The Farm

                  Depends did the French invent that too?

                  What did you think of that game in Ann Arbor last night?

                  1. ssckelley

                    Thanks for bringing that up! I was in such a good mood until now.

                    I tip my hat to Michigan, they kicked the Hawks ass last night.

                    1. On The Farm

                      Yeah, sorry. It’s kind of hard to beat a team that was shooting lights out.

                      That and I was a little mad about McCabe playing more than Uthoff. Probably just because I can’t stand McCabe.

                    2. ssckelley

                      Uthoff played like shit, so did Olaseni.

                    3. cubbiehawkeye

                      I come to this website to get away from last night and still get my sports fix. You two jokers just had to go there. Hats off to Michigan.

  8. JB88

    That is suddenly an interesting pitching staff the Brewers are putting together. Gallardo, Lohse, and Garza make a fairly interesting 1-3, especially if Gallardo started looking more like the pre-2013 version of himself.

    1. Noah_I

      They now have a decent rotation, but it’s not anywhere near enough. Their offense isn’t good, and who knows how the circus they’ll face will affect Braun.

      With that said, I like this move for the Brewers. They don’t give up a pick, it’s a guy who has a decent chance of being flippable if he stays healthy, and it helps them be more respectable now, which is a bigger deal for the Brewers since they can’t sell tickets if the MLB club is bad.

  9. salesguy

    I think the cost of this deal, was probably made possible, in part because of some risk factors in the medicals. Then there is also the matter of the 5 cent head that the arm is attached to.

  10. V23

    Theo fell asleep on that one, unless there is bad blood.
    Honestly, with Smardj-Garza-Wood-Jackson-Arrieta and a much better bullpen, the cubs would’ve been decent.

    1. aaronb

      Not sure about decent. They’ve had the worst 3 year stretch in club history with Garz plus Dempster/Maholm/Feldman during that time.

      Still also have the worst offense in baseball.

      1. BT

        And while those players were on the team, they were decent to bad. Once those players were traded off the team, the team became terrible.

      2. CubsFaninMS

        With Jose Altuve being the stud of the ‘stros lineup, I think we’re a tick or two better than them.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          Yeah, the ‘stros are pretty awful. Still, the Marlins were truly amazing last year: they finished 3 standard deviations below the mean of the other 29 teams. You expect to see that once every 25 years with 30 teams.

          We expect to see a quarter of teams finish as far below the mean as the Cubs. (And that doesn’t even take into account the lack of a DH in NL teams, too.)

          1. CubsFaninMS

            I’m calling it now… I predict our record to be 72 and 90 and we will get the #8 draft pick in the 2015 draft. I believe we have way too many players in the latter minor leagues and on the MLB roster that have upside to not see an improvement (Baez, Alcantara, Hendricks, Vizcaino, Arrietta, Grimm, Ramirez, Olt, Lake, Bryant). Also, we all know that several of our current players (Samardzija, Rizzo, Castro, Jackson, Coghlan) are capable of improving upon 2013. In 2013, we were definitely not a playoff caliber team, but luck was not on our collective side when it came to upside. At some point we have to grow out of the repeated “tank” years phase and let our young players with upside perform. There’s a reason why you don’t see major summer selloffs from teams like the Orioles and Diamondbacks. Hopefully 2014 is that year we begin to see that.

      3. DocPeterWimsey

        It’s not the worst offense in baseball: the Marlins had that hands-down last year (OPS of 0.627?!?!?)

        Indeed, the Cubs ranked 22nd last year, due mostly to plus slugging (the isoP part, that is). Their OBP is what dragged them down: but even that was due to low BA (driven by a very negative BABiP-xBABiP by at least two key players); their isoD was actually 21st in MLB. (That’s good for most recent Cubs teams, sad to say….)

        1. CubsFaninMS

          I’ve been a Cubs fans since 1986. Why oh why does the failure to take walks never go away? Only a handful of Cub team in those 27 years had teams that collectively worked the count well.

    2. Jon

      There is still a healthier, (projected) better option to Garza out there. If he signs for a similar deal, that’s when I’ll get upset.

      1. BT

        Right, THEN you’ll get upset. You’ve been Mr. Sunshine so far.

        1. Jon

          I swear you are the most worthless **** on this site. No offense but you really are.

          All you do is follow me around from thread to thread and make little “quips” on my posting styles. Just ignore me if you don’t like what I have to say.

          1. Bret Epic

            Not saying you should, but making a new account might help get him off your back. Honestly, Garza at that price is a good deal and I truly believe Garza is and always has been a better pitcher than Jackson.

            1. BT

              I don’t follow him around. I just find his comments to be the one most easily argued. You give him far too much credit. The idea that I’d stalk Jon is too depressing to contemplate.

              1. Bret Epic

                I didn’t give him or anyone credit, merely a solution to what he considers an annoyance.

              2. hansman

                Jon whining about it is like Dr. Oz whining that the medical community is constantly proving him wrong.

          2. BT

            Your posts make up half the comments on every thread. They all say the same thing, but still. I could spend all day posting and not reply to a third of your nonsense. Don’t post if you don’t want someone to reply. You need a thicker skin bud.

            And I’m worth far more than 4 ****.

          3. MightyBear

            No name calling please.

    3. Spoda17

      Fell asleep..? there was never a chance Garza was ever coming back to the Cubs… I would be pissed if they brought Garza back…

    4. itzscott

      >> Smardj-Garza-Wood-Jackson-Arrieta and a much better bullpen, the cubs would’ve been decent. <<

      Didn't they have that the 1st half of last year sans Arrieta and with a bullpen many here thought was going to be stellar…. much like many are thinking with this year's model….but they sucked anyway?

      2nd time around must be the charm.

  11. Lou Brown

    Makes haul we got for three months of his services look like a complete steal now.

    1. Luke

      That’s what I was thinking.

      1. itzscott

        Yep… my 1st reaction also!

    2. ssckelley

      Agreed, the Cubs took the Rangers to the woodshed on that one. Hopefully we will see the results on the field this season.

    3. Jim


      *see Mike Olt discussion*

  12. Elden14

    Man, that gif is mesmerizing

  13. CubChymyst

    I can’t wait to see Lake put a bunt down at some point in front of Garza.

    1. Fishin Phil

      Heck, I think Castillo ought to lay one down in front of him.

      1. CubChymyst

        Didn’t Garza get pissed in a game last season while he was on Texas because some team kept bunting on him?

        1. jkt

          It was Oakland. He took to the twitters and pulled a Eric Sogard’s wife into the conversation. Very un-classy.

          1. Fishin Phil

            Did she bunt on him too?

            1. jkt

              Now that would have been something to see… I’m betting she’d make it to first.

            2. jkt

              FWIW I generally liked watching Garza.

  14. Big City Mick

    Great news for the Cubs in that we would never had traded Shark to the Brewers. This still leaves the DBacks, Blue Jays, Braves, Angels, Dodgers, etc all still as potential trade destinations.

    1. YourResidentJag

      How do you figure the D’Backs or Angels???

  15. jschwei17

    So let’s assume Shark gets about $5 mil in arbitration. The Cubs offer of 5/$55 mil is a pretty good offer for a guy who just turned 29 and was a 1 WAR last yr. I understand future is brighter for Shark but Garza is better now.

    1. Jon

      Shark was worth more than 1 WAR last year.

      1. On The Farm

        He was a 2.8 (2.9 average over the last two seasons) on Fangraphs.

      2. jschwei17

        ESPN had him at 1 and 183rd among pitchers

        1. Noah_I

          Depends whose WAR you’re using. OTF listed his fWAR, FanGraphs’ version of the stat, which is based more on peripherals. He was at 1 WAR for rWAR, Baseball-Reference’s version of the stat.

          fWAR uses FIP, which rWAR uses ERA. Shark’s FIP has been significantly lower than his ERA both seasons, leading to the higher fWAR. I think Kyle has said a pretty good way of looking at them in the past: rWAR is better for telling you the win value of what the player actually did as far as results are concerned, while fWAR is better at predicting what a player will do in the future.

  16. Serious Cubs Fan

    Is it just me or did the brewers get a pretty good deal for sign Garza to a 4yr $52mil deal. A lot of upside on this deal

    1. willis

      If he stays healthy, then yes, it’s a hell of a deal.

  17. CubsFaninMS

    Looks like the Brewers did a Garza Strip!

    I know, I know. Leave me be.

  18. DocPeterWimsey

    Well, good for Garza: I found him likable and entertaining. But, man, I wouldn’t have given him such a long deal given his health track record.

  19. Steve

    Sorry, but Im in at that price.

    1. Voice of Reason

      The Yankees should have signed Garza and passed on Tanaka.

      Then, they would still have $12 million bucks a year left over to add another starter!

      1. YourResidentJag

        That’s certainly an intriguing idea.

  20. Senor Cub

    Brett – What is up with this Garza bashing article? Be that as it may, I happened to like Garza quite a bit more it seems. I don’t know what exactly he did to tick you off so much but the games that I saw him pitch, I always felt like the Cubs were right in it. I don’t want to compare Garza to Jackson like you are in this article, in my humble opinion, Garza has always been much better than Jackson. I cannot argue that Jackson is an innings eater because he tends to stay healthy. I wish Garza well, just not against our Cubbies although I have a suspect that like all the other Ex-Cubs, this one too will come back and make the FO look bad.

    1. twinkletoez

      Senor – I think he is more comparing the contracts they signed, not the players them selves.

    2. DarthHater


      1. TWC

        Why are you bashing Garza with facts, man?

        1. DarthHater

          That’s not bashing Garza. Lower FIP is better, man! ;-)

  21. CubsFaninMS

    The Dbacks, Blue Jays, and Pirates are all decidedly small market teams who have a chance to compete in 2014 and have a stocked farm system. If we trade Samardzija before opening day, I believe these are their likely suitors for maximum return. Garza narrows the market for quality arms who are not tied to draft pick compensation, which was already small. For a contrarian’s perspective on all three of those teams.. here goes. (1) The DBacks are notoriously chinchy with their prospects. (2) The Blue Jays were burned considerably by depleting their farm system last off season, although it is rumored that their front office is becoming a little desperate to perform. (3) The Pirates also appear to be chinchy with their prospects. In light of this, I still believe the trade deadline will be the best return on Samardzija if we cannot work out a cost-effective agreement with him. Samardzija, I believe, is more likely to perform better in the first half of 2014 than he did in 2013, making him a more valuable trade chip or, if he signs a contract with us, affirms that he is worth perhaps what he is asking for.

    1. YourResidentJag

      A deadline would easily eliminate the Blue Jays and I still don’t think the Pirates want Shark for the asking price.

      1. YourResidentJag


  22. ssckelley

    So Maddux is entering the HoF with no logo on his plaque.

  23. ramy16

    No that the Cubs missed out on Tanaka, Cub fans are expecting something to get done! Santana and Jimenez are out there!

  24. YourResidentJag

    So, Tanaka gets real estate and a hefty relocation fee as part of his deal with the Yankees. Plus, by going over the tax, that’s easily going to cost them $200+ when you add it all up.

  25. smackafilieyo

    I’m listening to espn Chicago and they had a great idea for the cubs. So here’s what they said, “speed the renovations up by playing at white sox stadium for one year. That’ll move renovations up 4 years to one and knock it all out. This also screws the rooftop owners and will lose lots of money…and come back when the team is ready to hit it big with a new stadium and maybe the rooftop owners will sell their buildings.” Please poke holes at this….wanted to know feedback…

  26. dan77

    Did Garza’s contract hurt Shark’s next contract?

    1. Beast Mode

      I don’t think it SHOULD have much bearing considering age/Heath but we shall see.

  27. Diehardthefirst

    Brewers want to contend this year- but Garza will be on DL by All- Star game- cant figure

  28. Beast Mode

    Do you really think the Brew Crew are trying to contend of are they pulling a page out of the Cubs play book and trying to flip him?

  29. 29bigcat

    We shoulda brought him back for that….

  30. college_of_coaches

    Apparently, the Brewers’ new baseball philosophy is: “We need more Matt Garzas, not less.”

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