Earlier this week, David Kaplan of Comcast Sportsnet Chicago reported that the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays were all going after Matt Garza of the Chicago Cubs and had been involved in talks to acquire this starting pitcher.
Just today, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has reported that the Detroit Tigers and Miami Marlins have greatly rammed up efforts to land Garza in a trade with Chicago. Out of all the teams, the Toronto Blue Jays seemed to have gotten the farthest in trade talks, as they were exclusively talking with Theo Epstein earlier in the week.
It now seems very likely that the Cubs will make a deal sooner rather than later. It is true that Epstein is looking for a major deal for Garza, as he believes that he could build the team around an "ace" like Matt Garza. With recent trades for Matt Latos and Gio Gonzalez bringing back major pieces, the Chicago Cubs know that they have the ability to maximize a major return by trading away Garza now. Plus, teams could be hurt after losing out on Yu Darvish, CJ Wilson, Mark Buehrle, Gio Gonzalez and even Edwin Jackson in the near future. This increase in desperation and increased return for decent starting pitching shows that some team will be willing to give up big.
The New York Yankees have more than what it takes for Matt Garza, with major players like Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances all vying for spots on the Major League team this spring training. Is Matt Garza even a fit for the team, though?
On paper, the answer to that question is yes. In 198 IP last season, Garza went 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA and 197 SO. Even with the Tampa Bay Rays, he ended up having an ERA in the high threes from 2007 to 2010. Overall, Garza has been very consistent, as we all know how he will probably pitch if he goes to the Bronx next season. In this way, the New York Yankees have to consider Matt Garza more highly than they would Edwin Jackson, especially since it looks as though Jackson will command a ton of money on the open market this offseason with Scott Boras as his agent.
The issue is price, in terms of prospects. In the AL East, Matt Garza only projects to pitch to an ERA around 3.80 at best, given how he performed with Tampa Bay in 2010. Do not get me wrong, this type of performance is a clear upgrade to what the New York Yankees have right now because of the simple fact that it provides some consistency. You know what you're going to get with Garza from start to start, whereas we cannot really be assured that Freddy Garcia is going to come back with just as good a season as he had last year. But, another positive to Garza is that he has postseason experience and would project to perform at his same pace in a tough environment at Yankee Stadium.
The prospects would probably be too much. Theo Epstein seems to value Matt Garza as an ace, and rightfully so with his 2011 stats. But the New York Yankees will never give up pitchers like Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, let alone Jesus Montero, to acquire a pitcher who would probably pitch to an ERA of 3.80 to 4.00. The feeling around the organization is that they would have a high probability of developing an ace in one of the following: Ivan Nova, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances. They would probably be able to do so in the next three years at most. Plus, don't forget about Adam Warren and David Phelps who are even closer to big league-ready than Banuelos and Betances.
All of these pitchers project to perform just as well as, if not better than Garza in the near future. So why should Cashman give up three or four of his top prospects?