Matt Garza Rumors
Here are a few notes from the National League:
- The Diamondbacks raised eyebrows with several of their offseason moves, including the decision to part with young arm Trevor Bauer in the deal that brought shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius to Arizona. While it is still far too early to evaluate this deal, ESPN's Buster Olney writes (on Insider) that the most recent scouting returns on Gregorius are positive. Known as an excellent fielder, the glove-first Gregorius has been flashing improved strength and bat speed that could lead to more power than was previously expected. Off to a hot start to his big league career as he fills in for an injury-plagued Dbacks squad, the 23-year-old Gregorius certainly appears to be living up to Arizona GM Kevin Towers' hopes in the early going. Towers said the club not only felt that Gregorius "can really, really play short," but saw excellent bat speed and pitch recognition and believed he was "a tremendous kid" who has "got no fear."
- Soon-to-be free agent hurler Matt Garza of the Cubs ranks seventh on MLBTR's Tim Dierkes's latest 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings despite his prolonged absence from the majors. Garza appears to be set up for a mid-May return, reports Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. Much like Roy Halladay, Garza's expected free agent haul could swing wildly based on 2013 results. While that is, of course, the case for any prospective free agent, it is possible to conceive of a wider band of results for a player like Garza. The 29-year-old features a very solid track record and relative youth, but is coming off of a long lull due to multiple injuries. Of course, Garza's play upon his return will also play a big role in whether the last-place Cubs will look to deal the pitcher to a contender (or, in the alternative, look to extend or re-sign him).
- The Phillies' major offseason trade acquisition and now-former leadoff hitter Ben Revere has continued his inability to draw walks since joining the Phils. In comments on Thursday, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro bemoaned the team's inability to earn free passes, as reported by Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. In fact, the club has the third-worst walk rate in baseball (5.9%), well below the league average of 8.1%. The comments have led to some consternation among observers, such as Bill Baer of NBC Sports, who remember Amaro's statement in January: "I don't care about walks. I care about production."
MLBTR is launching a new series entitled "Transaction Retrospection" in which we'll take a look back on trades that have taken place to see how the players involved -- including low-level minor leaguers -- have fared in new settings and how the involved teams have been impacted. Last week looked at the Josh Reddick trade, but remember that you can look back on other trades using MLBTR's Transaction Tracker.
Matt Garza has been involved in his share of high-profile moves. Since being drafted 25th overall by the Twins out of Fresno State in 2005, Garza has switched organizations in two marquee deals, and he once again finds himself as a trade candidate. He's been with the Cubs for a little more than two calendar years, but it seems like longer given the amount of trade rumors which constantly contain his name.
On January 8, 2011, the Rays traded Garza to the Cubs along with Fernando Perez and Zach Rosscup in exchange for prospects Chris Archer, Hak-Ju Lee, Robinson Chirinos and Brandon Guyer as well as outfielder Sam Fuld. Let's go player-by-player to see how it's all turned out...
The Major League Side
- Matt Garza: Garza immediately became one of the Cubs' best pitchers following the trade, and he showed it off with arguably the best season of his career. In 2011, Garza tallied 198 innings and established career-bests in ERA (3.32), K/9 (8.95) and HR/9 (0.64). He continued to display strong command and took a step toward establishing himself as an ace-caliber pitcher. Fangraphs pegged his value at a lofty 4.9 wins above replacement. His 2012 effort was derailed by a stress reaction in his pitching elbow after just 103 2/3 innings, however, which is likely the main reason that he wasn't traded at the deadline last July. While his elbow appears to be healed, Garza recently suffered a lat strain while facing live hitters and now stands to miss the first month of the 2013 season. Needless to say, that jeopardizes his No. 9 ranking on Tim Dierkes' free agent power rankings, but if he returns healthy and pitches well he's a midseason trade candidate.
- Sam Fuld: Fuld's time in Tampa Bay got off to an incredible start, hitting .289/.358/.433 in the month of April. His defensive play, clutch hitting and surprising production spawned the Twitter hashtag "#LegendOfSamFuld," and the 29-year-old developed a cult following. He hit just .218/.292/.327 the rest of the way, however, and didn't improve in 107 plate appearances last season. He's competing for a roster spot with Tampa Bay once again this Spring.
The Minor League Side
- Chris Archer: Archer came to the Rays as an erratic 22-year-old with an electric fastball. He still battles command issues, but he's progressed enough to rank as the game's No. 36 prospect according to Baseball America and No. 46 according to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. BA writes that his fastball sits 92-96 mph and is one of two "well above-average" pitches, the other being a devastating hard slider with "hard, cutting tilt and impressive depth." Mayo prefers Archer's fastball but echoes that both pitches can be plus at the MLB level. The two outlets agree that Archer's change-up development will be what determines if he's able to pan out as a top- or middle-of-the-rotation starter. Archer did make his MLB debut in 2012, firing 29 1/3 innings and whiffing 36 batters.
- Hak-Ju Lee: Lee is ranked 90th in the game by BA and 56th by Mayo, good for fourth and fifth in the Rays' system, respectively. Mayo writes that defensively, the Korean-born shortstop is more than MLB-ready right now, but he needs more time to develop his line-drive swing. His plus speed is an asset which both Mayo and BA agree upon. Both think he'll be a legitimate base-stealing threat, even if his lack of home-run power limits his overall upside a bit. Lee offers an opposite-field approach at the plate but needs to develop a more patient approach. He stole 37 bases in 46 tries as part of a .261/.336/.360 season at Double-A in 2012.
- Robinson Chirinos: A catcher by trade, Chirinos came to the Rays having ranked as the Cubs' No. 10 prospect according to BA. He regressed in 2011, however, hitting just .259/.343/.376 in 319 plate appearances -- a vast departure from 2010's .326/.416/.583 line. Chirinos had a chance to make the Rays last Spring, but suffered a concussion that prevented him from playing a single game in the minors or Majors. He's with the team again in Spring Training this season, but his stock has obviously fallen.
- Brandon Guyer: Guyer entered the 2012 season as the Rays' No. 11 prospect according to BA, thanks largely to the .312/.384/.521 triple slash line the outfielder posted at Triple-A in 2011. BA praised his combination of speed and power as well as his throwing arm, noting that he profiled nicely in right field but could handle center field as well. Guyer earned a call-up in early May, but disaster struck after just three games; he suffered a labrum tear that would end his season before he was able to back up his minor league promise.
- Fernando Perez: Perez wasn't thought of as much of a prospect at the time of the trade, and indeed he never cracked the Cubs' big league roster. After hitting just .238/.312/.337 through 76 games for the Cubs' Triple-A affiliate, he was released. Perez latched on with the Mets, but fared even worse in 40 games for Triple-A Buffalo, hitting .188/.298/.250. He didn't play in affiliated ball last season.
- Zach Rosscup: Rosscup hasn't cracked one of BA's Top 30 prospect lists for either team, nor has he appeared on one of Mayo's Top 20 lists. Now 24 years old, the southpaw suffered an arm injury midway through a promising 2011 season (2.54 ERA, 9.1 K/9). Upon returning in late 2012, he worked his way to Double-A and showed mixed results. Rosscup whiffed 29 batters in 22 1/3 innings at Double-A but also walked 19 and posted a 4.84 ERA. His 3.87 FIP showed more promise, and he'll likely open the 2013 season at that level.
The Rays have made a habit out of competing in one of baseball's toughest divisions despite having one of baseball's lowest payrolls, and trades like this are a large factor in that success. Executive VP of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman dealt from a position of strength to acquire a host of prospects -- two of which have developed into Top 100 prospects and two of which had their promising offensive potential limited by unforeseeable injuries. The Garza trade also paved the way for Jeremy Hellickson to join Tampa Bay's rotation and win 2011 AL Rookie of the Year honors.
The Cubs, meanwhile, got just the pitcher they were hoping for in Garza, but he too has been slowed by the injury bug. Garza would fit nicely atop Chicago's rebuilt rotation if he can return quickly, and he could net the team prospects this July if pitching well. Garza could also yield a first-round pick in 2014 if he turns down a qualifying offer, but his recent rash of injuries makes that a dicey proposition, as even the healthy Kyle Lohse has struggled to find a home due to his ties to draft pick compensation.
It's too early to say if one side got the better of this trade at this point, as Tampa Bay has yet to receive much value at the Major League level. However, the Rays seem to have positioned themselves for future success by moving a player when his value was near its peak.
Baseball America's 2013 Prospect Handbook was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum told reporters, including MLB.com's Carrie Muskat, that Matt Garza will most likely miss the first month of the season. Garza, ranked ninth on MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings and one of the prime trade targets last summer until he hurt his elbow, strained his left lat two weeks ago when he faced live hitters for the first time since July. In other news involving teams from the NL and AL Central Divisions:
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski says he is not looking to add anyone as projected closer Bruce Rondon continues to struggle, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- First base going forward is going to be very interesting for the Brewers, opines the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt. Corey Hart, currently recovering from knee surgery, is a free agent at the end of the year and has stated his desire to remain in Milwaukee. The Brewers also have Hunter Morris, the organization's player of the year and the Southern League (Double-A) MVP, waiting in the wings.
- With the Royals likely to open the season with a club-record $79MM payroll, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star doesn't anticipate any contract extensions for the team's young talent especially Eric Hosmer, a Scott Boras client.
- The Royals will keep their eye on the outfield trade market, tweets CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler.
Chipper Jones says he's not going to un-retire and return to MLB, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports. "I'm well-adjusted, and there's no going back," Jones said. The Braves will retire his number 10 this June and induct him into their team Hall of Fame. Here are some more links from around the National League...
- An MRI taken on Matt Garza revealed only a “mild strain,” Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said, according to ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers. Hoyer explained that Garza is expected to sit for a week or so and miss his first scheduled Spring Training start. The right-hander is on track to hit free agency following the 2013 season.
- The Dodgers are set to open the season with Hanley Ramirez at shortstop, so Dee Gordon “appears almost certain to start the season in Triple-A Albuquerque,” according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. GM Ned Colletti acknowledged that the Dodgers placed Gordon “in a tough spot last year.” However, manager Don Mattingly described him as someone who “is dynamic and is going to be dynamic.”
- In an MLB.com video clip, Padres general manager Josh Byrnes discusses San Diego’s approach to long-term contracts, explaining that the risks can be difficult for small-market teams to accept.
- Byrnes also addressed the team’s payroll, stating that it had “already gone up” and would continue to do so. “Our ownership said, hey, if the right deal came up, whether it’s now or in-season, then bring it to us and [if it] makes short-term, long-term sense, we’ll do it.”
- MLBTR checked in on the NL Central and the NL West earlier today.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
Cubs right-hander Matt Garza, ranked ninth on MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings and one of the prime trade targets last summer until he hurt his elbow, faced live hitters for the first time since his injury. Garza "looked good" (MLB.com's Carrie Muskat on Twitter) and "was throwing strong" (Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune via Twitter) before cutting his session short walking off the field with a trainer while holding his left side. Manager Dale Sveum calls the injury a mild lat strain and says Garza will be fine, Sullivan tweets. Here's the other news coming out of Mesa today, as the Cubs held their first full-squad workout:
- Owner Tom Ricketts told reporters, including ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine, he has been impressed by the job done by President Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer. "I think the progress is tremendous," Ricketts said. "People can't see all the decisions that are made behind the scenes. I see these guys making hundreds of smart decisions during the course of the year. Some of them are public decisions, and a lot of them are smaller decisions made behind the scenes. I just have complete total confidence that they are moving us in the right direction."
- Ricketts also addressed the reduction in payroll during his tenure, reports David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com. "The previous payroll model from the Tribune Company ownership was unsustainable in the current context which is why we are working to reach a deal on renovating the ballpark that will allow us to increase our revenue streams for the organization."
- The Cubs contacted Mark DeRosa about replacing Bob Brenly in their broadcast booth, tweets the USA Today's Bob Nightengale. DeRosa, who played two seasons on the North Side (2007-2008), instead chose to sign with the Blue Jays last month while the Cubs hired Jim Deshaies as their new TV analyst.
The Rangers enter Spring Training in search of a utility infielder and fear they may have to find the answer internally as free agents may be scared off by a lack of playing time, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. "We've been really fortunate to have great infields over the past decade," GM Jon Daniels said. "That's always been an issue and something we've heard about from free agents. That's why promoting guys from within gets around that, and trading for guys gets around that." Let's check in across league to catch up on the latest headlines and stories making news.
- Orioles GM Dan Duquette believes his team stands to enjoy another strong season given the talent he has in his lineup as well as pitching staff even without making a major move this winter, says Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com.
- Curtis Granderson stands to collect quite the paycheck when he hits the free agent market this fall given his hitting prowess and the weak crop of center fielders set to become available, writes Andy McCullough of The Star-Ledger.
- Matt Garza's tenure with the Cubs may extend beyond the 2013 season thanks to the draft compensation rules currently plaguing Kyle Lohse and his chances of signing with a team, says Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Thirty-one years ago today, the Cubs and Phillies swapped shortstops with Ivan DeJesus heading to Philadelphia and Larry Bowa going to Chicago. The Cubs also acquired a 22-year-old prospect by the name of Ryne Sandberg. This prospect managed to be named the 1984 National League MVP, played 16 years, finished with a career slash line of .285/.344/.452, and was enshrined into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005. Let's take a look at the news and notes involving the Cubs and the rest of the Senior Circuit:
- Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette on SiriusXM's MLB Network Radio "never say never...but likely this is the team we go to Spring Training with," Bowden tweeted.
- Regarding Matt Garza, Hoyer told Bowden and Duquette the focus is to get him healthy and into the Cubs' rotation; but, that could change since Garza will become a free agent after the 2013 season and the team needs to collect talent (Twitter link).
- Homer Bailey says "nothing has been mentioned at all" about a long-term contract with the Reds, but "it would be something to consider," reports Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. The arbitration eligible right-hander says the arb process has been slower this year because of the Reds' large arbitration class, but "it will all work itself out." You can follow all arbitration cases by using the MLBTR Arbitration Tracker.
- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has reached out to Scott Rolen to express the team's interest in him, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. Mattingly said he spoke to Rolen about what the Dodgers envision his role would be, but did not ask Rolen specifically about his decision making or timing. The Dodgers see the 37-year-old as insurance if Luis Cruz fails at third base, as well as a potential right-handed-hitting backup to Adrian Gonzalez at first base.
- Braves GM Frank Wren sat down for an interview with Bill Shanks of the Macon Telegraph and spoke in great detail about the Justin Upton trade, the financial flexibility the deal gives the Braves, and whether future payrolls will be increased from the current $98MM.
- Nationals relievers Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard were both surprised by the signing of Rafael Soriano, but believe he makes the team better, writes Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. GM Mike Rizzo met with Storen and Clippard this weekend to reassure them that acquiring Soriano was not a reflection on their abilities, Comak added.
The Cubs have avoided arbitration with Matt Garza by agreeing to a one-year, $10.25MM deal, according to his representatives at CAA (on Twitter). The 29-year-old is set to hit the open market after the 2013 campaign.
Garza's $10.25MM salary represents a $750K from his salary last season. In 2012, Garza posted a 3.91 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 18 starts. The right-hander has been the subject of trade rumors for some time with teams including the Rangers showing interest at various points.
Now that they have Garza squared away, the Cubs still have to take care of James Russell and Jeff Samardzija. The Cubs and Samardzija were talking about a multi-year deal previously but are now said to be working on a one-year pact.
ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine opened up his latest online chat to reader proposals for trades that would send Justin Upton to the Cubs and Jason Kubel to the White Sox, which led to no shortage of creative ideas from fans. Amidst these plausible-to-very implausible trade proposals, Levine also shared a few hot stove items about both of Chicago's teams...
- The Blue Jays and Rangers have been Matt Garza's most ardent trade suitors and could again be interested in acquiring the right-hander if Garza shows he's in good health during Spring Training. I'd think that Texas might still be in the mix but Toronto's rotation seems set unless the Jays don't think Ricky Romero can return to form.
- If the Cubs have concerns that Garza won't be ready for Opening Day, Levine thinks the Cubs could try to sign a free agent starter like Shaun Marcum.
- Before the Cubs and Angels settled on the eventually-abandoned Carlos Marmol-for-Dan Haren trade, L.A. turned down the Cubs' offer of Marmol for Peter Bourjos and an infielder.
- The Cubs have "genuine concern about holding [their] fan base" given the team's recent struggles and rebuilding process, which Levine feels may have been the impetus for the Cubs' signing of Edwin Jackson and its pursuit of Anibal Sanchez.
- The Diamondbacks have interest in some White Sox prospects, which could be a hint towards a possible Kubel trade. We heard earlier this week that the Sox and D'Backs had discussed both Kubel and Upton in potential deals, though Kubel is the likelier of the two outfielders to be moved.
- While Gavin Floyd has again been the subject of trade rumors, Levine believes the White Sox won't look to deal Floyd until they're sure that John Danks is healthy.
The Cubs are going down to the wire with another top free agent pitcher, as we heard earlier today that Chicago and the Rangers are the final two suitors in the Edwin Jackson sweepstakes. Here are some more items from Wrigley Field...
- The Cubs didn't feel they "were on the cusp" of signing Anibal Sanchez, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney, but rather just one of the teams in the mix to top the Tigers. I'd guess that Detroit was Sanchez's ideal destination all along, given how Sanchez apparently gave the Tigers the final chance to top the Cubs' $77MM proposal and left a larger offer from another team on the table at the Winter Meetings.
- "Carlos Marmol going for a small package of prospects" is the deal that ESPN's Bruce Levine feels is the likeliest trade the Cubs will make before Opening Day. The Cubs will probably have to include a large chunk of Marmol's remaining $9.8MM salary in such a swap given how Marmol is coming off a tough 2012 season that saw him lose his closer's job. Chicago nearly dealt Marmol to the Angels for Dan Haren earlier this winter but that trade fell through due to concerns about Haren's health. Levine also covers a number of other Cubs- and White Sox-related topics in his all-Chicago chat.
- Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago wonders if the Cubs will look to extend both Jeff Samardzija and Matt Garza this offseason. We've heard the Cubs have reached out to Samardzija about an extension though Mooney thinks "there's no rush" given how Samardzija is controlled through 2015 and is a local product. Garza is entering the last year of his current contract and has been the subject of many trade rumors over the last two seasons.