Jaime Garcia Rumors

NL Central Notes: Cardinals, Garcia, Snider

The Cardinals have announced that they are cutting ties with Dr. George Paletta, an orthopedic surgeon who had served as the club's medical director since 1998, in favor of a relationship with Mercy Sports Medicine, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. GM John Mozeliak made it clear that the team expects to reap dividends from the move. "The Mercy Sports Medicine model allows us to improve the level of innovative care available to our team by tapping into a remarkable team of physicians who are leaders in sports medicine," explained Mozeliak. "The biggest change I see with the approach is that it is truly a team model -- a model that leverages the strengths of multiple physicians within the Mercy Sports Medicine group. This is a strategic plan that will handle our short-term needs, but also focus on long-term goals." As Strauss notes, St. Louis has undergone a series of changes in its medical and training departments. 

  • One notable injury situation for the Cards is that of starter Jaime Garcia. As Strauss reports, Garcia says he has "never" been able to pitch with complete freedom due to ongoing elbow and then shoulder issues, but is ready to move forward as best he is able. "What I have to learn now is that fine line where you can go out and compete and the point where you can't," said the 27-year-old. "It's not about feeling 100 percent. It's not about feeling great. That's not the case. It never will be. It's a matter of finding something that allows you go compete."
  • We learned earlier today that the Pirates could be looking to deal outfielder Jose Tabata and are willing to listen on reliever Vin Mazzaro. Also potentially available is outfielder Travis Snider, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review further reports. Though Biertempfel says that the willingness to deal Snider is somewhat surprising since he has looked good, dropped some weight, and brings some upside to the table, he notes that those factors also potentially increase his trade value. While clearing out corner outfield inventory would ultimately make way for the call-up of top prospect Gregory Polanco, Biertempfel says that the team is still likely to let Polanco spend some time at Triple-A and avoid starting his service clock soon enough for him to become a Super Two.

NL Notes: Non-Roster Impact, Garcia, Hensley, Phillies, Turner

Jonah Keri of Grantland lists out the National League non-roster invitees who could have the greatest impact. In addition to a series of highly-touted prospects with a chance to break out this year, Keri says to keep an eye on Roger Bernadina (Reds), Mark Reynolds (Brewers), Bobby Abreu (Phillies), and Jamey Carroll (Nationals). Here's more from the National League:

  • Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals is set to receive a second opinion on his ailing left shoulder after undergoing an MRI on Monday, reports Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. Though declining further comment, GM John Mozeliak said that the preliminary review by the Cards' team doctor showed that "early indications have been encouraging." Nevertheless, any visit to Dr. James Andrews causes alarm bells to go off, and that is particularly so in the case of the 27-year-old Garcia, who missed most of last year due to a labrum tear.
  • Reliever Clay Hensley, 34, is looking to make an improbable comeback with the Nationals after a series of injuries derailed his career, reports MASNsports.com's Dan Kolko. Though he could barely crack 80 mph just half a year ago, a weighted ball program commended to him by former big leaguer Tom House has allowed Hensley to regain the low-90s heat that he carried earlier in his career. Of course, Hensley faces quite another uphill battle in gaining a place in a Nats bullpen that has several arms competing for few openings.
  • Much has been written about the Phillies' controversial involvement with the collegiate career of former draft choice Ben Wetzler, but Tony Blengino of Fangraphs provides an excellent new perspective on the issue. The former scout explains that the role of the scout is to eliminate as many variable as possible, making things as black and white as possible. But uncertainty will never be removed from the equation entirely, and Blengino opines that players should be permitted to utilize an agent/advisor without fear of repercussions.
  • Justin Turner, who was designated for assignment by the Mets this offseason before landing with the Dodgers, talked about the shock of the DFA with Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Turner says he has nothing but fond memories of New York, though he was particularly stunned to hear that the team had concerns with his level of hustle.

Central Notes: Thomas, Twins, Cardinals

White Sox great Frank Thomas will appear as a studio baseball analyst this season for Los Angeles-based Fox Sports 1, The Associated Press reports. While Thomas has done pregame and postgame analysis locally in Chicago for the last three years, he describes the new position as "more a call to the big leagues." The slugger also offered his thoughts on how deciding not to use PEDs may have impacted his career. "I probably lost another two MVPs. I lost probably another 150 home runs or so, if you think about it," Thomas assessed. Here's more late-night central notes:

  • The Twins made Matt Garza a three-year, $42MM offer this offseason and were willing to add a fourth year as a vesting option, a club source tells 1500ESPN.com's Darren Wolfson. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick was the first to report the terms (via Twitter).
  • Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals is scheduled for an examination of his throwing shoulder after experiencing pain this week, The Associated Press reports. GM John Mozeliak confirmed the development means Garcia is unlikely to be ready for the start of the season. The starter went down for surgery in May after doctors discovered a labrum tear in his left shoulder.

NL Central Links: Garcia, Carpenter, Garza

Jaime Garcia will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery on Friday, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman goes on to write that Dr. James Andrews was amazed that Garcia was able to pitch anywhere near as well as he did, as the left-hander has a "30-40 percent tear" of the labrum in his left shoulder. Garcia is in the second year of a four-year, $27.5MM contract that he signed in June 2011. His deal contains a pair of club options as well. Here's more on the Cardinals and the NL Central...

  • While Garcia is done for the year, the Cardinals are hopeful that Chris Carpenter can return in July, according to Scott Miller of CBS Sports. Carpenter, who looked all but certain to retire just two months ago, is up to 80 pitches in his intense bullpen sessions. He's yet to face hitters, writes Miller, but there's an outside chance that he could be in the rotation prior to the All-Star break.
  • "Let the debate begin," writes ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers, referring to the split opinion among fans on whether or not the Cubs should sign or trade Matt Garza. It's not immediately clear whether or not the Cubs will try to retain Garza, Rogers adds.
  • One NL scout who was watching Garza's start against the Pirates last night texted Danny Knobler of CBS Sports and said, "I'd take him NOW." Knobler notes that the scout was half-kidding, as Garza hasn't proven his durability yet, but the right-hander carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning against the Buccos last night.

Quick Hits: Cardinals, Braves, Starting Pitching Market

With one-fourth of the season in the books, let's have a look around some injury situations and how they might impact the developing trade market.

  • The Cardinals and Yankees provide an interesting case study as we enter the second quarter of the season. Both have excellent records and lead their division. Both have sizeable payrolls as well as large portions of those payrolls sitting idle on the DL. Both have had to insert players onto their active roster that they did not anticipate. But, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch well explains, the source of those substitute bodies has been drastically different. While the Yankees spent well over $20MM to bring in players like Lyle Overbay, Kevin Youkilis, Travis Hafner, and Vernon Wells -- all of whom are 34 or older -- the Cards reached into their minor league system. Remarkably, St. Louis has plugged all of its holes with players making league minimum, including young pitchers John Gast, Shelby Miller, and Seth Maness.
  • The Goold piece also includes some valuable insight from GM John Mozeliak. According to Mozeliak, amongst the team's Double-A and Triple-A rosters, "there is almost at any one position, if we needed help at the big leagues, someone we could call on from there." He acknowledges that such cheap, youthful depth cannot always be achieved, and says the team is prepared to pursue other markets as necessary. "I don't want us to go down the path where we feel like we've created this functional model and don't utilize a really robust pro scouting model that makes sure we understand the trade market and understand the free agent market. We can't be scared of those." Yet, by looking internally first, the team has managed to retain salary flexibility to add outside impact down the line. "This organization's way now of staying healthy is not being tied to those outside markets to fill needs," says Mozeliak. "Having some young players step up like they are now gives us additional flexibility when we're going to need it."
  • The Cards' internal depth will once again be put to use with starter Jaime Garcia now staring at a strong possibility of season-ending shoulder surgery, writes Goold. Even with fellow starter Jake Westbrook also stuck on the DL, the team has multiple options among its current relief corps and Triple-A rotation that make a look outside the organization unlikely. Of course, it remains to be seen whether Garcia's replacement(s) can match his strong start to the year. He had thrown 55 1/3 innings of 3.58 ERA baseball to open the season. Veteran starter Chris Carpenter is increasingly shaping up as a viable mid-season option for the club. But any setback in his surprising recovery, or hiccups among the team's young hurlers, could lead St. Louis to consider eventually utilizing some of its salary reserves and young minor league depth in a trade.
  • The Braves are another National League contender dealing with injured arms. As Matt Snyder of CBSSports.com's Matt Snyder writes, Eric O'Flaherty appears likely to join fellow setup man Jonny Venters as a season-ending Tommy John patient. While the team seems likely to utilize internal options to fill in for the present, the loss of its two late-inning lefties leaves the team with just one southpaw in the pen, Luis Avilan. Ultimately, then, Atlanta could be forced to explore the trade market to re-establish its depth as the season wears on.
  • Teams shopping for starters at the trade deadline appear likely to find a limited supply of attractive arms, says ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider subscription required). Two Cubs pitchers headline the developing market, with Scott Feldman shaping up as the surprise top option at the moment. (Matt Garza, of course, will begin his potential audition on Tuesday.) In addition to several other well-documented trade candidates in Ricky Nolasco of the Marlins and the Astros' Bud Norris and Lucas Harrell, Olney pegs the Padres' Jason Marquis and Edinson Volquez as likely available. Meanwhile, Bartolo Colon of the Athletics and Cliff Lee of the Phillies could also be dealt, writes Olney, with the A's having other internal options and the Phils still weighing how to proceed with their excellent (but expensive) 35-year-old co-ace.

Cards Notes: Wainwright, Miller, Descalso, Matheny

Hall of Fame and Cardinal icon Stan Musial passed away yesterday at the age of 92. Today, tributes are pouring in ranging from fans outside the Stan the Man statue at Busch Stadium (St. Louis Post-Dispatch video) to the White House (h/t MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch). Daniel Solzman of Redbirdrants.com even suggests the Cardinals name the playing field at Busch Stadium in honor of Musial. The Cardinals are holding their 17th annual fanfest this weekend and, while the Musial official memorabilia booth was closed today in tribute to the St. Louis legend, players still made their appearances and made some news.

  • Chairman Bill DeWitt, Jr. says the club is prepared to increase payroll in the coming years, tweets Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Goold adds the 2013 payroll is around $115MM.
  • Adam Wainwright, who is entering the final year of his contract, admitted the Cardinals approached him about a contract extension during the final month of this past regular season, Goold reports. Wainwright said he wanted to focus on the playoff stretch and "it wasn’t going to hurt my case to just wait it out and see where some of these guys signed."
  • On the upcoming Wainwright extension talks, Goold, within the same piece, quoted GM John Mozeliak as saying, "It’s going to be long. It’s going to be expensive.
  • Wainwright has become a mentor to pitching prospect Shelby Miller, Goold writes in a separate article. Miller, who will compete for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, says he doesn't know what he was thinking last offseason when he "was trying to be a beach bod" with his workout regimen. Miller's performance suffered and the club questioned the right-hander's conditioning. Enter Wainwright who exchanged texts with Miller throughout the season and challenged him to reach training camp at a weight that would help his strength and durability. 
  • While Miller has gained enough pounds to reach his playing weight, Jake Westbrook's outlook on the offseason is to copy last year's regimen in hopes of slimming down, writes Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. "It worked out so well last year that I thought I would just do it again," Westbrook said.
  • The injury reports on Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, and Rafael Furcal are positive, according to Langosch
  • Mozeliak says second base is Daniel Descalso's "job to lose," but he is open-minded about Matt Carpenter making a push for playing time there, writes Langosch
  • Mike Matheny told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he only became the Cardinals' manager because of losses he sustained in a failed real estate venture. A Missouri judge recently ruled Matheny and his wife owe more than $4MM from that deal plus interest and court costs. Matheny will earn $750K in the final guaranteed year of his contract

Daniel Seco contributed to this post.

Cardinals Sign Jaime Garcia To Four-Year Deal

The Cardinals announced that they signed Jaime Garcia to a four-year deal with two club options, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN).  Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the deal is worth $27.5MM in guaranteed money (Twitter link).  Michael Golde of KTRS 550 AM first tweeted a rumor of the Garcia extension last Thursday, with the contract details included.

Garcia, 25, is enjoying another fine season with a 3.22 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9, and 54.5% groundball rate in 117 1/3 innings.  He was set to become arbitration eligible for the first time after the season, so it appears that the contract covers his three arbitration years (2012-14) and his first free agent year, with options on two additional free agent years.  Garcia is represented by Melvin Roman of MDR Sports Management, having made a change this year.

The deal falls a bit short of the contracts earlier this year for Clay Buchholz and Trevor Cahill, which also featured a pair of club options.  Keep in mind that Garcia's first-year arbitration earning power would have been limited by time missed due to '09 Tommy John surgery.

NL Central Notes: Garcia, Pujols, Pirates, Cozart

The Brewers acquired C.C. Sabathia on this date in 2008. The left-hander strung together one dominant outing after another and led Milwaukee to its first postseason series since 1982. Here's the latest from the NL Central as we await this summer's first blockbuster deal...

  • When asked about the possibility of signing a contract extension with the Cardinals, Jaime Garcia told B.J. Rains of FOXSportsMidwest.com (on Twitter): "I'm not saying yes or no, but if something is going on, when the time comes, you guys will find out."
  • Now that he has made an exceptionally quick return from the disabled list, Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols looms as the biggest potential difference-maker in the division, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports explains.
  • Manager Clint Hurdle told Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the Pirates discussed some external options yesterday, when management met to determine its plan for summer roster moves.
  • Reds GM Walt Jocketty told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he isn’t going to make moves for the sake of shaking things up. 
  • Fay points out that someone named Zack Cozart is registered at the Reds’ team hotel (Twitter link). Though it could be a coincidence, it seems likely that the shortstop prospect is getting the call to the big leagues.

Jaime Garcia Changed Agents

Jaime Garcia switched agents earlier this year and Melvin Roman of MDR Sports now represents the Cardinals’ left-hander, the agency confirmed. Agent Bobby Barad, Garcia's previous representative, has also lost Robinson Cano and Jorge de la Rosa since leaving TWC Sports, as MLBTR's Tim Dierkes noted on Twitter.

Garcia has a 3.20 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 through 81 2/3 innings this year. With the exception of one ugly start at Coors Field in late May, Garcia has been consistently effective. The 24-year-old will be arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason and I projected his 2012 earnings at $3-4MM earlier in the season.

Previewing Jaime Garcia's Arbitration Debut

If Jaime Garcia keeps pitching like this, David Price and Clayton Kershaw won’t be the only first-time arbitration eligible left-handers worth following this offseason. Garcia, the third-place finisher in last year’s National League Rookie of the Year balloting, enters tonight's start leading the league in wins and shutouts and third in the Senior Circuit with a 1.89 ERA.

Jaime Garcia

The 24-year-old has thrown 300 fewer innings than Kershaw and 175 fewer frames than Price, so his salary doesn’t figure to approach $6MM in 2012, as theirs might. Tommy John surgery sidelined the Cardinals lefty in 2009, so he trails some other first-time arbitration eligible pitchers in important categories like wins, innings and strikeouts.

However, Garcia doesn’t compare well with Shaun Marcum and Francisco Liriano, who are also veterans of Tommy John surgery. Both pitchers entered the arbitration process for the first time with little leverage, as their respective platform years were poor (Marcum missed the 2009 season and Liriano's '09 campaign was a dud).

Garcia, on the other hand, figures to have lots of positives on his side this winter. He's 5-0 with an ERA under 2.00 and four times as many strikeouts as walks. Throw in an All-Star appearance, some postseason success or some Cy Young votes and his case would become even stronger. If he stays healthy, he’ll earn far, far more than what Liriano ($1.6MM) and Marcum ($850K) earned their first time through arbitration.

Jordan Zimmermann, another Tommy John veteran who will go to arbitration for the first time this winter, doesn't measure up to Garcia in terms of career numbers, and isn't off to the same blazing start. On the other hand, Max Scherzer has pitched tremendously (6-0, 3.20 ERA, 51 Ks) so far and figures to have a stronger case than Garcia this winter because of the superior length and consistency of his career contribution.

Looking back a year, there's Phil Hughes, who was born just two weeks before Garcia. He's another starter who went to arbitration without impressive ‘bulk’ stats. It won’t be easy, but Garcia could match the 31 career wins, 369 innings and 323 strikeouts Hughes had after 2010. And given his current pace, the Cardinals lefty could finish with a markedly better ERA, both for his career and his platform season (Hughes had a career 4.20 ERA after last year). That would help push Garcia’s 2012 earnings beyond Hughes’ current $2.7MM salary.

There's no way Garcia will match the 51 wins or 671 2/3 innings Jered Weaver had when he went to arbitration for the first time, so Garcia can likely forget about a $4.365MM salary. But his career 2.72 ERA is a full run better than the 3.73 mark Weaver had after 2009, which will help Garcia and his representatives at TWC Sports.

There’s little point in getting overly precise with arbitration predictions when so much of the season lies ahead, but it’s clear that Garcia could earn $3-4MM in 2012. Definite success for a pitcher who missed an entire season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.

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