Updates for Sunday, Jan. 26
Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has the latest on Matt Garza's talks with the Brewers from owner Mark Attanasio and general manager Doug Melvin:
Mark Attanasio opens by announcing the team has come to agreement with Matt Garza.— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) January 26, 2014
Melvin: "I know we're a stronger team today" with the Matt Garza signing.— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) January 26, 2014
Four-year deal. Still going through final approval with MLB, Attansio said.— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) January 26, 2014
Adam McCalvy of MLB.com had more on Garza's deal:
Hearing Garza's 4-yr deal with #Brewers guarantees $50mm, with $4mm more available in incentives and a vesting option for 5th year at $13mm— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) January 26, 2014
Despite previous reports, Matt Garza has not officially agreed to a deal with the Milwaukee Brewers, the team announced:
Despite media reports, negotiations between the #Brewers and Matt Garza are ongoing, but there is no deal yet.— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) January 24, 2014
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported on Jan. 26 that contract negotiations were still being held between the Brewers and Garza:
Garza, #Brewers still appear on track to complete deal. Continue to work on language in contract. Not clear if related to physical.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 26, 2014
Adam McCalvy of MLB.com previously provided an idea of why there is currently a snag in the negotiations:
Now I'm hearing the holdup on Garza is not related to medical concerns. It's just taking time to wrap up the deal. Stay tuned.— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) January 24, 2014
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports initially reported that the coveted free-agent starting pitcher and the Brewers reached an agreement on a four-year, $52 million contract.
Source: Garza in agreement with #Brewers, four years, $52M, pending physical.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 23, 2014
Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel talked about Garza's past health issues:
#Brewers had to be OK with medicals on Garza, who has had elbow and shoulder issues. Team pays attention to that stuff.— Tom (@Haudricourt) January 23, 2014
Garza split the 2013 MLB season between the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers, who acquired him in July with hopes he could put them over the top in the playoff race. Instead, he sputtered down the stretch with a 4.38 ERA in 13 starts and Texas missed the postseason after losing the tiebreaker game.
He pitched better with the Cubs, posting a 3.17 ERA over 11 starts. It's that type of upside, which he's flashed throughout his career, and the lack of quality free-agent options that made him one of the most intriguing players on the open market.
At 30 years old, he's either going to turn the corner and become the ace every team he's played for has seen for small stretches, or he's going to remain a boom-or-bust option with an ERA around 4.00.
Garza had his best season in 2011 with the Cubs. The two biggest factors in that improved performance were an improved strikeout rate and limiting home runs, an issue that has plagued him throughout his career.
Would Garza prove to be worth the investment for Milwaukee?
Those two stats will be the telltale signs early next season to see what direction his season is trending. A high strikeout rate and low homer rate would very likely equate to a good free-agent investment for the Brewers.
That said, Garza's past inconsistency didn't stop him from becoming a popular target because there was a severe lack of options available. He hit the market at the perfect time, which left pitching-needy teams with little choice but to pursue him.
Moving forward, that's something that should be kept in mind. He might not be an elite starting pitcher overall, but he was one of the best available free agents, which helped him secure a big-dollar deal.
Whether he lives up to that top billing is a major question mark. He's done it at times throughout his career, but rarely on a start-to-start basis. Maybe as he hits the middle of his prime, he'll be ready to take that next step forward.
That's what the Brewers are hoping for anyway as they look to complete the deal.