As far as discussing haul or not, I think you have to put it into perspective of what the Cubs originally gave up, Garza’s history, his control, the return and then evaluate. So let’s do it now real quick.
Cubs and Rays original trade for Garza:
1. Fernando Perez
2. Zach Rosscup
3. Matt Garza
1. Chris Archer
2. Brandon Guyer
3. Hak-Ju Lee
4. Robinson Chirinos
At the time Lee was a solid defensive short stop, good enough on that side of the ball to be an immediate defensive stud in the majors, but his stick was a question. Lee remains in the minors putting up decent numbers, but is no longer real young for his level and his bat is yet to show it can play in the bigs. At this point he will be a below avg. offensive ss or a very solid defensive utility guy.
Guyer, was a 24 year old outfielder who had just been named cubs minor league player of the year. He was never seen as a future stud, with the ceiling of a 4th outfielder. That is somewhat where he could end up, though he is yet to stick in the bigs and remains toiling in the minors trying to impress. He is now 26 or 27 and is yet to really break in in any way.
Robinson Chirinos didn’t last long in the system and is now in the Rangers system. He is a usable piece, but was never thought to be a future piece more than a back up or emergency type guy, and a guy who at the time sat behind a couple of catchers in the cubs system, one of them being Wellington Castillo.
And then you have the belle of the ball, Chris Archer. Remember the front office, yes even that F.O. didn’t want to give up Archer, and it very nearly nixed the deal for the Cubs. But in the end they did include him to get their guy. Archer was a projected MLB rotation pitcher, probably in the 2/3 range in a high praise scenario. Certainly not an ace type and still isn’t. You also have to remember, he just finished a career year in which he rocked a 15-3 record with a 2.34 era in 28 games, and minor league cubs pitcher of the year. BUT, he was also 22 in that season, not exactly young for either level. And it came on the heels of a lackluster track record as he was the guy who came over for super utility Mark DeRosa in the Cubs/Indians deal a year earlier.
Fuld, I don’t need to say much, sorta a speed/hustle guy who was never going to be awesome, but could perceivably work his butt off for PT and be an energy off the bench. That is exactly what he was two years ago in Tampa, but now finds himself back in the minors….a Tony Campana comparison isn’t out of order here.
That was given up for Rosscup, Perez, and Garza. Perez was essentially a long shot, throw in, change of scenery guy that quickly ended his tenure with the cubs so we will leave him off. Let’s look at the other two though.
Rosscup, at the time was a 22 year old starter, who at low a had a 3 ERA. Rosscup wasn’t highly touted but has always been highly effective! He is now in Iowa and has dominated this year in a relief role and could earn a call up or a bullpen shot starting next spring.
Garza, what is there to say about Garza? when the Cubs got him he was a 3, with 3 years of control, and peripheral numbers that suggested at least #2 stuff. He did exactly that with the Cubs, dominating at times, struggling some, but overall the best pitcher on the roster during his tenure as far as pure stuff. And he had injuries while with the Cubbies that kept him out of action for nearly a full baseball year. In those three years Garza went 21-18 with a 3.6ish ERA on a real shitty team, and brought enthusiasm and passion every day.
Now look at what got back in the Garza trade this year. Remember it was a return for not 3 years of Garza, but merely 3 months and coming off a year and half which saw him have arm injuries twice leaving him out for nearly a full season before a month and a half tryout for the trade deadline essentially.
Mike Olt, a guy who is battling yes, but came into the season as a top 25 prospect in baseball, a power hitting, defensive wiz at 3b. He is in a down year, where his hit tool is severely in question, but with the upside could be a solid everyday 3b still. Questions avail, but less than with anybody they gave up to get garza!
Neil Ramirez, a peculiar piece of the trade, just completed obviously. Ramirez is somewhat of a conundrum because at age 22 he lit up AA and AAA in the Ranger system, only to see it fall apart last year at both levels. Then this year he reopened in AA and has been effective to the tune of a 3.8 ERA in AA but hasn’t gotten the bump to AAA, in part because of a glut of pitching in texas and a DL stint this summer. Still this guy has what could be a very solid 4 in a major league rotation if he continues to put it together. That being said, the cubs could have possibly elected to take a Hak Ju Lee type in the Rangers ss prospect, but with the glut of infield prospects they opted for a pitching prospect.
Justin Grimm, another 25 year old starter was a prospect in the Ranger system before forcing his way to the Rangers team, with some aid from injuries on the big league roster. Grimm is in AAA now and is getting mixed results. He has a less than stellar but not awful 4.8 era in the hitter friendly PCL, but notably has seemed to iron out the HR issues which plagued in the big leagues with Texas this season. Grimm is another guy that is more than a serviceable 4/5 candidate next year if he keeps the HR down and just pitches instead of thinking a bit.
And finally we get to the belle of the ball in this trade. C.J. Edwards. At just 21, a year younger than archer at the time they were each traded. Edwards b/w A and A+ has put up a 1.84 era in 22 starts. He has flat out dominated and should be seen as a prospect as good or better than Archer was. He comes with #2 potential, and with his ability to get a swing and miss, and avoidance of the HR who knows where he could go. But this kid is a legit prospect, probably the best pitching prospect in the last 20 years in the organization not named Wood or Prior. I know that is a very bold statement, but with all outside factors included I like him better than Vizcaino, Johnsen, and anybody else at this point.
All in all, I would say yes, that is a haul. We got far superior value in this trade compared to what we gave up for Garza in the first place. And we got 3 years not 3 months of Garza. It is not far fetched to see all four of the guys we got in this deal in Chicago in 2-3 years, and that equals haul for any pitcher you only get for 3 months, regardless of name or ability. Remember Garza just came back from fairly serious injury, is gone in a month and a half, and brought back four very capable prospects who could all find themselves in the organizational top 30 at years end. That, my friends, is…… a………HAUL