Matt Garza Trade Rumors: Which of His 6 Major Suitors Is the Best Fit?
Garza's numbers aren't as flashy as Ryan Dempster's, to be sure, but he's a lot younger at a mere 28 years of age and he isn't due to test the free agent waters until after the 2013 season. He hasn't been perfect this season, but he's capable of pitching like an ace on any given day.
Not surprisingly, there are a handful of teams interested in Garza's every move these days. According to Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com, the New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates all scouted Garza's latest start against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday. They had to like what they saw, as Garza fired seven shutout innings.
If that list of teams is any indication, there are six teams with serious interest in Garza. Only one of them, of course, can actually end up with him when all is said and done.
The question, obviously, is which one of them is the best fit for Garza's services.
Here's how I rank them.
6. New York Yankees
Yankees GM Brian Cashman
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Way back in early June, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that Garza interested the Yankees more than any other starting pitcher on the trading block. They liked that he had pitched before in the AL East with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Apparently, not much has changed in the past month and a half. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reported on Monday that the Yankees still like Garza, and that they prefer him over Ryan Dempster.
The problem, however, is that Garza is having a mediocre season and Yankees general Brian Cashman has said that he's in no real hurry to make moves of any kind.
“I’m not very optimistic that we’ll be needing to be active, or should be active, given the price tags associated with the players," he said recently.
Levine noted in his article that the Cubs are said to be looking for young pitching in return for Garza, and that's something the Yankees don't have a lot of. If they were to open up talks with the Cubs for Garza, names like Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances would invariably end up in the discussion, and the Yankees should be wary about dealing either one of them for an enigmatic pitcher like Garza.
Furthermore, it's not like the Yankees really need to make a deal for a starting pitcher. CC Sabathia is returning to action this week, and Freddy Garcia isn't a bad stopgap option while the Yankees wait for Andy Pettitte to get healthy.
The Yankees don't need to fear missing out on the playoffs. Their pitching staff is strong enough even without Pettitte, and they have a big lead in the AL East to play with. Since they also want to keep their payroll down, they therefore have every excuse to hold onto their prospects and stand pat at the deadline, rather than dealing for a pitcher like Garza who is getting to be expensive ($9.5 million salary this year).
And remember, Michael Pineda will be back healthy next season, so the Yankees don't need to secure a starter to shore up their chances of contending next season either.
5. Pittsburgh Pirates
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With word coming out on Monday (via the Washington Post) that Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto is going to miss up to four weeks with a knee injury, there has to be a lot of fist pumping going on in Pittsburgh.
With Votto out for maybe a month, now is the time for the Pirates to open up a big lead in the NL Central.
The Pirates haven't been relevant in a long time, but it sounds like nobody within the organization is treating this season like it's a fluke. All signs point toward the powers that are in Pittsburgh doing everything in their power to make sure the team ends the season in first place.
But to this end, the rumor mill has had the Pirates more interested in adding a big bat than a big arm. For example, ESPN's Jayson Stark has tweeted that the Pirates are very much serious about their pursuit of Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton, a player that the Pirates were linked to a couple of weeks ago.
Nonetheless, it makes sense that the Pirates would be interested in Garza. They don't have a bad starting rotation, but they don't have the kind of rotation that would scare any team in a short postseason series. They could use somebody to form a scary trio of starters with James McDonald and A.J. Burnett.
The Pirates have the young pitching to satisfy the Cubs. They won't part with Jameson Taillon or Gerrit Cole, but pitchers like Luis Heredia and/or Kyle McPherson could be in play.
But therein lies the dilemma. The Pirates know that they're building a contender that's going to be around for years to come, so it's not in their interest to deal young talent to a division contender that is looking to build a winner from the ground up. In the near future, the Cubs are going to be competing with the Pirates. Why make it easier for them to get better sooner?
There's a deal to be made between the Pirates and Cubs, but it's hard to imagine the Pirates being desperate enough to land Garza if the price tag keeps escalating.
4. Texas Rangers
Rangers owner and CEO Nolan Ryan
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The Rangers starting rotation has been bitten by the injury bug this season, and they've also had to deal with inconsistencies from some of their starters (i.e. Yu Darvish and Roy Oswalt).
Considering the circumstances, it's actually pretty impressive that Rangers starters have managed to post a 4.03 ERA this season. It feels like they've done a lot worse than that.
By this point, however, it's no secret that the Rangers are looking for a major rotation upgrade. They've been linked to Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke, most recently by Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com.
Garza is not on the same level as those two, and that should appeal to the Rangers. Rosenthal notes that they're not very willing to part with top prospects (such as Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt) for rental players, and Garza is a non-rental who they could get without giving up either one of their farm hands.
That's in theory, anyway. While the Cubs would prefer to get young pitching in return for Garza, Levine noted that they would also love to get a third baseman they could develop for the future.
You know, somebody like Olt. The Rangers should consider dealing Olt for Hamels or Greinke, but not Garza. The Rangers should only deal Olt or any of their other top prospects if they know they're getting an ace in return. Garza is more like a good No. 2 or No. 3.
There's still a deal that could be made between the Rangers and the Cubs because the Texas farm system is so deep. Instead of a big prospect, the Rangers could convince the Cubs to take a handful of talented lower-level prospects instead.
The Rangers have enough pitching depth to stand pat at the deadline if they so choose, but they have more incentive to load up than the Yankees because they're looking to do everything in their power to ensure that they'll head into the playoffs with a championship-caliber team. Right now, the one area they could stand to shore up is their starting pitching staff.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
Dodgers GM Ned Colletti
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According to Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com, the Dodgers are more interested in Ryan Dempster than they are in Garza.
This makes sense. Dempster is older and more injury-prone, but he's a realistic target for the Dodgers because he's a rental who wouldn't cost as much in terms of prospects as Garza would. The Dodgers aren't sitting on a wealth of prospects, so it makes more sense for them to target Dempster than it does for them to target Garza.
But this doesn't mean a deal can't be done here. The Dodgers may not have a deep farm system, but the one thing their system does have is talented pitchers at the lower levels. That's something that should appeal to the Cubs.
What should appeal to the Dodgers is that giving up more to get Garza isn't such a bad idea. This is a chance for them to add a talented 28-year-old starter to a core that already includes Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley. That's a core that would allow them to make some noise not just this season, but next season as well.
And goodness knows they have the funds to re-sign Garza if they like what they see. Garza is a California native, so he would no doubt be open to the idea if the Dodgers were to acquire him.
The only issue is that the Dodgers would probably prefer to save their millions to sign Cole Hamels, which is presumably a big reason why they're targeting Dempster over Garza.
2. Detroit Tigers
Tigers GM David Dombrowski
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Starting pitching has been an adventure for the Tigers this season, as they currently have a rotation ERA of 4.14. If you take Justin Verlander's performance out of the equation, that number climbs significantly higher.
The problem the Tigers are facing right now is that it's entirely unclear who their No. 2 starter behind Verlander would be in the postseason. That job is supposed to belong to Doug Fister, but he's been a mystery this season when he hasn't been hurt. Max Scherzer has great stuff, but he's as unreliable as they come.
Somebody like Garza would be perfect for the Tigers. He's got great stuff and he's just consistent enough to qualify as a good No. 2 starter, and he showed that he can be an impact postseason performer back in 2008.
The trouble is that the Tigers don't have much to offer in terms of prospects. Their farm system is among the shallowest in all of baseball.
The one guy who the Tigers could dangle in talks for Garza is third base prospect Nick Castellanos, but Bob Nightengale of USA Today has tweeted that he's totally unavailable...for now.
Since Levine noted that the Tigers are also interested in Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney, one can't help but wonder if they would do a deal that would net them both Garza and Barney in exchange for Castellanos and a couple of spare parts.
The Tigers are looking to win now and Castellanos' path to the big leagues is blocked by Miguel Cabrera, so that should be considered a doable deal.
The other thing the Tigers could do is hold on to Castellanos and dangle Jacob Turner instead. He's a young, major league-ready pitcher with a high floor that the Cubs could plug into their rotation right away.
It all depends on how desperate the Tigers are. Judging from all the reports, they're pretty desperate already.
1. Toronto Blue Jays
Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos; Photo via TheStar.com
The Blue Jays need starting pitching depth more than any team in Major League Baseball. The good news for them is that they have more than enough assets to go find some.
The Blue Jays have one of the deepest farm systems in all of baseball, and the one thing they have a lot of is young pitching. They could offer the Cubs a package of young arms that few teams around the league would be able to match.
And Garza is exactly the kind of pitcher they should be looking for. He's both young and experienced, he's got great stuff, he's battle-tested in the AL East, and he'll be around next year.
Don't underestimate the importance of that last aspect. The Blue Jays are looking to be major contenders as soon as 2013, but their outlook for next season is a little dicey because some of their top starters (i.e. Kyle Drabek and Dustin McGowan) are dealing with major injuries that will likely keep them out of action for part of next season.
Garza would give the Jays a pitcher they could plug in to save a waning pitching staff this season, and they could pencil him in as a good No. 2 behind Brandon Morrow in 2013.
The Blue Jays aren't getting much buzz as a major player in the Garza sweepstakes, but that has more to do with where they are in the standings. The Cubs care more about what they can get in exchange for Garza than anything else, and they can get more from the Jays than they can from just about every other team.
Don't be surprised if Garza ends up north of the border in the next couple of weeks.
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