Jon Garland Trade: Impact on Free Agency?

Josh LevittSenior Analyst ISeptember 2, 2009

PHOENIX - AUGUST 29:  Starting pitcher Jon Garland #52 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches against the Houston Astros during the major league baseball game at Chase Field on August 29, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Diamondbacks defeated the Astros 9-0.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

As most of us know by now, Jon Garland was dealt from the lowly Diamondbacks to the NL West leading Dodgers two days ago. What I'm most interested in is not how this trade impacts the Dodgers, but instead, how this deal possibly impacts Garland's value on the open market. Let's take a look.

Garland's performance this season with the Diamondbacks has been filled with peaks and valleys. In April and May, Garland was awful and one of the worst pitchers in the National League. But since then, Garland has emerged as an above average starting pitcher and his season stats reflect this: 8-11 with a 4.29 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP. Solid yet unspectacular numbers.

So what does Garland's trade to Los Angeles mean for his pocketbook? Well, all of a sudden, Garland has a fantastic opportunity to position himself for a better contract for 2010 and beyond. Instead of pitching in Arizona where the Diamondbacks are merely playing out the schedule, Garland has the chance to make an impact on a team that could possibly win the NL pennant.

And we've seen pitchers before parlay their postseason success into a big contract. Anyone remember Derek Lowe's contract with the Dodgers after his magical 2004 playoff performance? Or how about Jeff Suppan's contract with the Brewers after pitching the best baseball of his career with the Cardinals in the 2006 playoffs?

I'm not saying that Jon Garland will earn a huge contract this offseason. But what I am saying is now that Garland is a Dodger and will be exposed to pressure packed baseball and national TV audiences, the opportunity is there for him to make that two year, $12 million dollar contract turn into a three year, $25 million dollar contract...if he plays the best baseball of his life over the next two months.