Now that the winter meetings are over, the dominoes in free agency and trades are beginning to fall more quickly. Moves that directly and indirectly affect the Boston Red Sox.
By signing Jackson and Villanueva, the Cubs now have seven legitimate starters going into next season: Jackson, Villanueva, Scott Feldman, Scott Baker, Travis Wood, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Garza.
The last name on the list, Matt Garza, is the most intriguing.
Garza is someone who the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo speculated that the Sox might still have interest in earlier in the week.
Garza is a nemesis of the Sox and has been through the wars of the AL East. With MLBTraderumors.com projecting Garza's 2013 contract at $10 million in his last season before free agency, the Cubs might be inclined to move the 29-year-old Garza for prospects.
That's where the Sox would figure in.
Given that former Sox general manager Theo Epstein and former Sox assistant Jed Hoyer both know the Sox farm system very well, the Boston and Chicago could structure a deal that would help both teams.
The Red Sox have an excess of major league catchers, relief pitchers and mid-level prospects.
Garza can be viewed as damaged goods, which is something that might make the Cubs more inclined to trade him.
Garza was shut down last season due to a stress reaction in his right elbow, limiting him to only 18 starts and 103.2 innings pitched.
The good news is that Garza resumed throwing December 10th, according to MLB.com, and should be on schedule to start the season. If Garza has a good season in 2013, the Cubs would obviously tender him a contract to get draft pick compensation.
But, if Garza has more elbow problems, the Cubs run the risk of being on the hook for the full $10 million and not receiving any draft pick compensation.
For the Sox, it would be worth the risk to add a proven arm to the rotation with the potential for a big return. If he stays healthy and pitches well, the Sox might be able to extend him before free agency.
When healthy, Garza is good for 30 starts and 200 innings pitched. His career ERA of 3.84 would certainly look good behind Lester and Buchholz.
As Ben Cherington continues to rebuild the Sox, he could do worse than look to old friend Theo Epstein for help.
Statistics used from Baseball Reference.
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