Contrary to what had previously been known about Matt Garza’s contract, the Brewers no longer have a 2018 option on the right-hander, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy tweets. The option was voided after he crossed a games pitched threshold. Without the option, Garza is set to hit free agency this winter as his four-year, $50MM contract comes to an end.
Garza’s contract had a vesting option for 2018 that would have automatically exercised at $13MM if he had 110 starts from 2014-17 and under certain other conditions. He had only started 93 games in that time frame, however. The vesting option would have become a $1M club option if Garza had spent over 130 days on the disabled list in any season from 2014 through 2017, but he did not. It was previously thought that, in the absence of the $13MM vesting option or the $1M team option, the Brewers would have a $5MM team option, but evidently that isn’t the case.
It didn’t appear especially likely that the Brewers would exercise Garza’s option even at the reduced $5MM price. Jimmy Nelson is already set to miss the start of the 2018 season, and not having an option on Garza further reduces the club’s flexibility, but it still appears likely that the Brewers would have looked elsewhere for starting pitching help or relied on other internal options even if they could have kept Garza at $5MM.
After a strong first season in Milwaukee, Garza has struggled, and this year he’s posted a 4.94 ERA, 6.2 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 while missing time to groin and leg issues. He also struggled down the stretch and was removed from the Brewers’ rotation weeks ago. That’s not exactly a world-beating performance, particularly when considered in the broader context of a third straight underwhelming season — since 2015, Garza has a 5.10 ERA, 6.2 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 over 365 innings. The Brewers also might generally prefer to go with younger pitchers.