Proving 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:
Worth noting: total WAR in the 4 years prior to signing – Matt Garza 9.8, Edwin Jackson 12.9.
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) January 23, 2014
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:
#Brewers statement: Despite media reports, negotiations between the Brewers and Matt Garza are ongoing, but there is no deal yet.
— MLB (@MLB) January 24, 2014
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.