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December 2011



Should The Cubs Trade Matt Garza?

Written by , Posted in General

Twitter has been abuzz over the last few days that the Cubs are open to listening to offers for Matt Garza this off-season, but is that the right course of action for the new front office to take?

We mentioned yesterday that Garza was the best starter on the staff last year so it’s no wonder there are teams that are eager to acquire his services. Factor in the fact that Garza has just a shade under five years of ML service time, putting his free agency date at the end of the 2013 season and you’ve got yourself a pretty hot commodity.

Matt Wahlig of Bleacher Report put together a piece entitled “10 Packages the Chicago Cubs Would Take For Matt Garza” in which he outlined some possible trade scenarios and the reasons why on each. His basis for the offers, in terms of value, being “offers comparable to what Kansas City got for Zack Greinke, or slightly better than what Tampa Bay got last offseason for Garza’s services.”

I took the opportunity to ask bloggers representing each of the nine teams mentioned in the article to see if they’d be willing to part with the prospects that were proposed:

On the Cubs trading Garza to Texas for Tanner Scheppers, Engel Beltre and Mike Olt:

Yes; I would make that trade. Scheppers has a near-elite late innings arsenal, with two 70 grade pitches. But the command component isn’t very strong and the delivery isn’t overly conducive for fluidity and repeatability. Beltre has all five-tools and can play centerfield at the highest level, but the makeup is a concern and the approach at the plate is very limiting. He has the raw skill to play in the majors, but he needs refinement across the board. Olt is the best prospect of that group, a player that profiles as a 6 at the major league level. His bat is legit, with contact ability and plus power, especially to right-center. His glove is very good, with shortstop actions and a very strong arm. But unless he moves to LF or 1B (which would limit the value he offers at 3B), his future will not be with the Rangers.” ~ Jason Parks (Baseball Time in Arlington)

On the Cubs trading Garza to Los Angeles (A) for Kaleb Cowart and Alexi Amarista:

“Garza for Cowart and Amarista?  If it were me, I would definitely think long and hard about it, but probably ultimately would turn it down.  I think the Angels would do the same.  Cowart hasn’t exactly dominated in his young career, but he still has superstar potential, so I would think they’d try and hold onto him for something better.  As for Amarista, they like him, but wouldn’t be loathe to move him since middle infield is an area where they have a lot of depth.  

The problem with the deal as I see it is Garza.  He was great for the Cubs last year, but in his previous AL seasons in the American League were good, but not great.  More than that, he is too similar to what the Angels already have, right-handed starting pitchers who give up a lot of flyballs.  The Angels are actively seeking someone who can shake up that profile a little bit, which is why they are so interested in C.J. Wilson.  If Garza were offered to them, they would definitely be interested still, but I don’t think they’d give up a prospect like Cowart for a guy who would be their third or fourth best starter.  I could be wrong though, with a new GM in Jerry Dipoto, it is impossible to know how he values each Angel prospects.” ~ Garrett Wilson (Monkey With A Halo)

On the Cubs trading Garza to Toronto for Travis D’Arnauld and Adam Loewen:

“I don’t think that I would [make that trade]. Not because Adam Loewen was a minor-league free agent who just signed with the Mets but because I, among others, am very high on D’Arnaud. Eastern League MVP catcher in his first season at AA? I think I want to see that through. 

I like Garza and that is a little too high a price for me. Maybe Carlos Perez (highly-regarded catching prospect in his own right, albeit farther from the big leagues) and a similar (to Loewen) quad-A outfielder like Eric Thames? Maybe even a better player (than Thames) or a player like David Cooper + somebody else. But not D’Arnaud”. ~ Drew Fairservice (Ghost Runner on First)

On the Cubs trading Garza to Seattle for Chance Ruffin, Dan Cortes, and Mauricio Robles:

“My initial reaction is that I’d make that trade in a heartbeat.  Even if Garza, at his salary, isn’t what the Mariners need right now, I’d take it thinking that Garza could bring back more in a follow up trade, either later in the offseason or at the trade deadline.  

Cortes relies on pure heat but has such control issues that he could have a hard time sticking in the big leagues full-time, while Ruffin sounds like someone who will top out as a setup man.  Robles is someone people like as a sleeper, but he’s coming off an arm injury (bone chips in the elbow, I think, but that’s just off the top of my head) and has always had durability/stamina issues, leading many to view him as a reliever down the line.  The Mariners probably wouldn’t miss any of them long-term.

Losing Cortes and Ruffin right after trading Lueke might leave slim pickins in the bullpen, but that’s easy enough to fix for a team not expected to contend.  With James Paxton and Danny Hultzen knocking on the door, Robles is easier to deal than he would have been a year ago. I’d be shocked if the Cubs couldn’t do better, especially with a competent front office team in place.” ~ Jon Shields (Pro Ball NW)

On the Cubs trading Garza to New York (A) for Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos, and Jesus Montero:

“Before I respond, let’s note that the author of this proposal has erroneous information. The Yankees did not offer Montero, Betances, Banuelos, AND Swisher. That’s absurd. The team did, however, offer some combo, likely one of those three prospects (possibly two). 

How does that relate to Matt Garza? Well, I happen to really like Garza, but there’s no way I am dealing my top three prospects for him, however. Say what you will about the Yankees overvaluing their own guys, but with Brian Cashman firmly grasping onto Montero, there’s no chance a yard-sale deal is happening for anyone other than a bonafide ace (Montero was offered in the Cliff Lee trade). Garza’s AL East history shows us he’s a guy a bit better than a 4.00 ERA (ERA+ about 110) who will post about 200 IP.  And he was very good in Chicago last year. That’s got good value anywhere, but not for any organization’s top three prospects.

I would entertain dealing Betances as the headliner in a package for an increasingly expensive Garza, but not including two of those three prospects. The Yankees would like to strengthen their rotation but not at any cost” ~ Jason Rosenberg (It’s About the Money)

On the Cubs trading Garza to Cincinnati for Yonder Alonso:

“Yes, probably, but it’s close. Garza has been a bit overrated, in my opinion, but there are encouraging signs. His groundball rate was pretty doggone good last year, and the Reds need more groundball pitchers (and that’s not even addressing the drop in his HR rate after moving to the NL). I also think he’s going to have a couple of good years in the NL going forward. He’s not an ace, but the Reds need quality arms, and he has one.

Of course, I’m not as high on Alonso as many others are. I think he’ll be a starting 1B in the majors, and he’ll hit well enough to stick in the lineup. I don’t ever expect him to be as good as Reds scouts predicted when he was drafted out of Miami (as the most polished bat in that year’s draft). My sense is that he’s valued by the people that matter (in major league front offices) more than I would value him.

But, then, I’m not very smart. so who knows? Alonso’s value, in my opinion, is as high as it’s ever going to get. I’m dying for the Reds to trade him, now. The proposed trade you mentioned would likely benefit both teams.” ~ Chad Dotson (Redleg Nation)

On the Cubs trading Garza to Miami for Matt Dominguez and Chad James:

“I personally wouldn’t, considering how I still think Garza is underrated and especially since both prospects aren’t worth a pitcher of Garza’s caliber, even if he isn’t underrated. Dominguez is highly overrated and has been ever since last spring training’s hype of him potentially winning the third-baseman job. Chad James hasn’t found it yet, and hasn’t shown that good of stuff since he signed. I think this would be a real bad deal for the Cubs.” ~ David Gershman (Marlins Daily)

On the Cubs trading Garza to Arizona for Tyler Skaggs and either Matt Davidson or Bobby Borchering:

“Absolutely not. If I’m the Diamondbacks, I’m starting spring training with Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Josh Collmenter, Tyler Skaggs, Trevor Bauer and Jarrod Parker. 

With Collmenter likely moving to the bullpen, I wait and see who makes the starting rotation, then if near the trade deadline the team needs an extra bat, then I’d trade the one player that’s still in the minors (if absolutely necessary).” ~ Tyler Emerick (Snakes on Jefferson)

On the Cubs trading Garza to Boston for Will Middlebrooks, Anthony Ranaudo, and Drake Britton:

“Honestly, I’m torn. Middlebrooks looks like he can step in as a quality 3B but I have yet to really hear anyone get excited about him, on an All-Star level. Ranaudo didn’t exactly have a great year, but did tear up the Cape Cod league and did have a fairly solid full-season debut and some project he could make the majors by the end of the year as a spot starter or reliever. Britton has loads of talent, and I’m not sure Boston would be keen on unloading him at the nadir of his trade value. That said, it’s a very competitive offer for Garza, who is battle-tested in the AL East and it’s no secret that Boston covets him. In the end, I probably take the plunge for the following reasons:

  • Garza is entering his age 28 season, which is a very enticing age and is tied up for the next two years. Odds are good Sox could resign him and if not, Sox would get comp picks, which enhances his value. (No way the Sox wouldn’t offer Garza the one-year deal needed to qualify for picks.)
  • Middlebrooks is replaceable — maybe not at a league-minimum salary, but this is Boston.
  • Have you SEEN Boston’s rotation!?” ~ Evan Brunell (Firebrand of the American League)

For me, the decision on whether or not you deal Matt Gazra has to be based on what your short term plan for this team is. If you’re looking to be competative right away, especially with the rumors that the Pujols tires are being kicked, then you have to keep Garza and use him as a piece to that puzzle. If your plan is to be better in the next four to five years, then you deal Garza and get as much for him and guys like Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, and Carlos Zamrbano as you can get. I mentioned yesterday that I don’t believe the Cubs should ever need to be a team that does a complete rebuild, so I’m keeping Garza.

  • Norm

    I like seeing the responses from the other blogs.

    That Yank’s deal is ridiculous, like the guy said. But if the Cubs can get Banuelos, I would trade Garza. Manny’s a major league ready pitcher and major league ready players, or at most 1 year away, are the only acceptable return.

  • Lando87

    Well done piece Joe, I’m with you about keeping Garza, but a couple of those packages are mighty enticing.

  • Dusty Baylor

    Is a dropping K/BB ratio a concern on Banuelos? That and he’s never thrown morn than 129 innings in a season?

    Should be interesting to see what they do with Garza.

  • Chuck

    I would not trade Garza unless a team let you pillage their farm system for him. No way. Garza is a player you try to get an keep not one you trade away.
    If the team traded Garza you have to ask “What, exactly, is the goal of this team?” The Cubs are not the Pirates in that they are pinching every penny to be mediocre. The Cubs have the financial power to retain guys beyond rookie deals to be consistantly competitive.
    If the Cubs trade Garza for kids, they had better back off every high-priced free agent and bust out the wrecking-ball and totally clean house. Everyone must go for prospects and start from scratch. Otherwise, they are just spinning the wheels and not really getting better. Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic if you will.
    To me Garza is a player you can build around. You either are in building mode right now or you tear everything down. The middle path leads to 85 wins forever.

  • Noah

    Quite honestly, I’d hang on to Garza unless you get a deal that blows you away right now. I do think the fact that Garza has truly elite numbers just one year lowers his value. If he has similar numbers over the first half of next year, you could see an improved market for him. Or you can keep him and have him be your ace for 4 or 5 years.

  • MJ

    And Theo as of today saying Garza is not someone he’s looking to trade, but to build around. Gotta love the interwebs.

  • Seymour Butts


  • Buddy

    The Yankees rumor is obviously false. Assuming the other lists are valid, I’d keep Garza.

  • lizzie

    Really nice post, Joe (and your Sweet Spot colleagues). It’s nice to hear from them. And I’m with you on the “keep Garza” train.

  • Cubs need pitching, they have to build a foundation somewhere. Where does one begin with the heavy contracts they have? I’m pulling for them, I’d love to see Epstein help reverse a 2nd curse.