The Cardinals offered left-hander Jaime Garcia in talks with other clubs prior to the August 1 trade deadline, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (subscription required). Garcia was deemed expendable since Alex Reyes and Luke Weaver are ticketed for roles in next year’s St. Louis rotation; indeed, both young starters have already stepped into starting roles, with Reyes recently taking Garcia’s spot.
It has been an up-and-down year for Garcia, who has a 4.70 ERA, 7.8 K/9, 2.54 K/B rate and 56.7% ground ball rate over 166 2/3 innings for the Cards this season. On the bright side, that innings total is the second-highest of Garcia’s eight-year MLB career, an encouraging sign for a pitcher who has been plagued with injuries in recent years. Unfortunately, Garcia also has a career-high home run rate (19.2%) that has inflated his ERA. Advanced metrics such as SIERA (3.99), FIP (4.43) and xFIP (3.82) indicate that Garcia has been a bit unlucky to post that 4.70 total, though he hasn’t helped himself with some rough recent outings. Garcia has an 8.28 ERA over his last 29 1/3 innings, a cold streak that forced the Cardinals’ hand in moving Reyes into the starting five.
Despite these issues, Garcia certainly still has some value to other teams. It’s possible that with a full season under his belt after years of shortened campaigns, Garcia will be better suited to avoid a late-season fade in 2017. The Cardinals have a $12MM club option on the 30-year-old for 2017 and Olney notes that some in baseball believe St. Louis will decline that option to part ways with the lefty and allocate that money elsewhere.
This winter’s starting pitching free agent market, however, is so incredibly thin that it might be worth it for the Cards to exercise their option and shop Garcia during the offseason, rather than let him go for nothing. As Olney observes in his piece, the Cardinals will face some difficult decisions in addressing their defense and one-dimensional offense in the winter, so Garcia’s presence gives the club an extra trade chip.