Trade Match Series-Matt Garza

Whether or not a trade happens between two teams can come down to many nebulous factors, from the relationship between the two GMs, how clubs value players, and the level of motivation a team has to move someone. But one important element that can be looked at objectively is how the teams match up. This is a series where I’m going to look at how the Yankees match up with the other team for their prospective trade targets.

What do the Cubs need?

A lot. 1B Carlos Pena and 3B Aramis Ramirez are both free agents. After Garza their starting pitching consists of Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, Rodrigo Lopez and Casey Coleman. They don’t have an everyday RF, having traded the disappointing Kosuke Fukudome last July and relying on a platoon of Reed Johnson and Tyler Colvin for much of the rest of the year. They don’t need relievers with Carlos Marmol as their Closer and Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall and Jeff Samardzija as their set up tandem.

Who do they have in their farm system?

OF Brett Jackson is their top positional prospect, and after killing it (.297/.300/.591) in 48 games in AAA last year he may be ready as soon as midseason 2012. CF Matt Szczur had a nice year in his debut in low-A, but struggled after being promoted to High-A Daytona. After that, not much to get excited about. Josh Vitters was supposed to be their 3B of the future but he’s been a big disappointment, struggling mightily each time he’s climbed the ladder in the minors. He’s a few years away if he ever arrives. Baseball America notes that their system has more depth than impact talent, meaning they may have more future MLB players than anyone else, though they lack those who project as stars.

Yankee trade chips that match:

Jesus Montero (1B) Brandon Laird (3B) Nick Swisher (RF) Hector Noesi (SP) Dellin Betances (SP) Manny Banuelos (SP) Hector Noesi (SP)

The Ephemeral:

Jim Hendry was fired not just for being a bad GM, but because the teams finances took a hit for the first time in recent memory. The Cubs have two enormous dead weight contracts in Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano, both of whom are paid to be elite players (18M per) but appear to have their best days behind them. The Cubs have been willing to spend money in recent years, having a top 5 payroll from 2007-08 and top 3 from 2009-10. It remains to be seen if Theo wants to do a quick turnaround via free agency or go for the full rebuild. If he doesn’t think he can compete for the division next year (Pujols re-signing with the Cards may impact that) he may want to deal Garza, who’s his most valuable commodity and due to become a FA after the 2013 season. The value of a cost-controlled pitcher of Garza’s talent is essentially lost on a team like the Cubs, that needs to rebuild its farm system more than they need Garza to start 30 games in a losing effort. But if he signs Prince Fielder that tells me he’s going for it next year. Theo openly groaned  about the Manny Ramirez deal for years, I have doubts he will sign a longer, more expensive deal with someone that has Prince’s physique.

0 thoughts on “Trade Match Series-Matt Garza

  1. I like Garza but he’s been a little all over the place over the years. His K/9 has bounced around from 6.24, 8.38, 6.60, and 8.95. The BB/9 have been fairly consistent outside of 1 year, and outside of this last season in the NL his ground ball rates have been pretty awful (39.7% 2009 & 35.8% 2010). He’s a fly ball/strikeout pitcher who doesn’t always generate strikeouts despite his stuff. His swing and miss strike percentage went up dramatically this year (7.5% to 11.2%), but that’s to be expected with a move from the AL East to the NL. He’s also never posted an FIP below 4.14 before his 2.95 this year. If we knew we were getting this Garza he’d be worth more, but I doubt this Garza comes back from the NL.

    I don’t think he is a guaranteed number 2, though he is probably never worse than a number 3. I also don’t think he is going to get much better than he is now. He’s likely just to bounce around in the highs and lows he’s already established. Because of that Montero and Banuelos are off the table, but a package starting with Betances seems about right. Maybe something like Betances, Noesi, and Romine works. If they wanted a 4th in the deal I’d throw in Laird if they wanted him, since I don’t believe in him at all, but I’m not sure who else I’d be willing to make a 4th. Maybe Betances, Noesi, Romine, and Phelps/Warren if we really loved him.

    • You could argue that at age 28 he’s entering his prime and figuring things out. He certainly had some issues with maturity early on. I love the fact that he was able to adjust to pitching in Wrigley, focusing more on getting ground balls. That tells me he has the tools to pitch anywhere.

      • This is true. It’s just as easy to argue most of his extra success is from moving the NL and coming back to the AL makes him a 3 WAR pitcher again.

  2. Steve as I stated in one of your early blogs I like Garza. Would he be my 1st choice for a #2 probably not but he may be the most practical of all the possible trade options that might be available. I do agree with Chris that some of his stats are attributable to being in the NL but I still fall back on the intangible that he has AL East experience. Baring some unreasonable request by Epstein I’d do the deal in a heartbeat.

    From my perspective Banuelos, Montero and Sanchez are off the table anyone else is negotiable. I also think the Cubs can NOT expect to get the same type of package they gave up to get him if for no other reason then clubs have 1 less year of team control.

    • He does have the AL East experience which is a plus, but I’m not sure he could ever be called a number 2 caliber pitcher in his time with the Rays. A 3 for sure, but he was never a number 2.

      2008- 184.2 IP, 6.24 K/9, 2.88 BB/9, 41.7 GB%, 0.93 HR/9, 3.70 ERA, 4.14 FIP, 4.42 xFIP

      2009- 203.0 IP, 8.38 K/9, 3.50 BB/9, 39.7 GB%, 1.11 HR/9, 3.95 ERA, 4.17 FIP, 4.14 xFIP

      2010- 204.2 IP, 6.60 K/9, 2.77 BB/9, 35.8 GB%, 1.23 HR/9, 3.91 ERA, 4.42 FIP, 4.31 xFIP

      Garza is a weird pitcher to judge. He was consistently under 4 in ERA, but each year his fly ball tendencies got worse and despite playing in a big park his HRs got worse. Outside of one season he was never a big K guy despite his stuff, and his FIP got worse each year as well.

      Like I said if we could guarantee we were getting the Cubs Garza he’d be worth more. That Garza is a real number 2. However we can’t guarantee that, and he likely will never be that good in the AL. But unfortunately for us that is the Garza the Cubs will be dealing.

      • Chris, I understand there are no guarantees w/Garza. And to be honest there are no guarantees with any player. There are players in my opinion that are “more likely or less likely” but as far as I see it there are no guarantees. Just like there are no guarantees that any of the “prospects” we’ve talked about on these sites will be any more then “nice” pieces and not difference makers.

        In my opinion it becomes a matter of who’s available and can or do they make the team better then the team would be without them and is the cost worth it. For me Garza would make the Yankees starting rotation stronger with him then without him in 2012. And as I said providing the cost is reasonable. What’s reasonable? That’s for the seller and buyer to decide. But that’s just me.

    • I think you can do a deal without those 3. You have to make up for 2 years of Garza’s value. Garza’s coming off a huge year (5 WAR) but he’s averaged 3 WAR the past 4 years. One year Swisher (3.3 avg WAR last 3 years) covers one of those years, and then a package of Noesi, Warren and Laird may be enough (est 1 WAR each).

      • Why would the Cubs decide they need to sell to rebuild and then trade 2 years of a 28 year old Garza for 1 year of 31 year old Swisher? I don’t see why they would be taking Swisher at all.

          • Garza does that, only he’s younger and going to be around longer.

            If you are re-building don’t have half ass it, if you are going for it don’t half ass it. I don’t see Theo being dumb enough to split the middle for the fans phyche.

          • It’s not always all about baseball, its still a business. Read the link where I discuss Hendry and how attendance was down last year.

            If you don’t do Swisher, you build a package around Montero and give up less for the add-on pieces. But I would MUCH rather do Swisher, and I think Theo would go for it.

            If Cash can get 2 pitchers (preferably Danks and Garza) and hang onto Montero and Banuelos, then I don’t care who else he gave up, he’s had a tremendous off season.

          • I understand that, but Swisher isn’t moving the needle in that direction. Fans aren’t so stupid as to see Garza move and Swisher come in and think 2011 is anything other than a lost year.

            I wouldn’t build a package around Montero, Garza isn’t proven enough for that. If that’s what Theo wants in return I move on and thank him for the time.

            I don’t see anyway Theo takes a deal with Swisher and nobody prospects after that. You are saying he wouldn’t be wanting Banuelos, Betances, Montero, Sanchez, Romine, or Noesi in a deal because they got Swisher? What incentive do they have then? They might as well just keep Garza, because he can fetch a much bigger package than that.

            I see no way he gets 2 pitchers in trade, I find it unlikely he signs and trades for 2 pitchers. If he gets one more guy I think he calls it an offseason outside of small bench moves.

            Theo would have to re-sign Swisher for the deal to even make sense, and at that point he’s trading younger, cheaper, talent for older, expensive, long term deals. It just doesn’t make sense.

          • Season tix sales at Wrigley is not a factor as the waiting list is numbering around 150,000. In the two years I’ve been on that list I’ve moved all the way up to 115,000ish. The Cubs have been over 3 million in attendance for a number of consecutive seasons no matter what their record.

  3. Sure I would like Garza because hes only 28, under team control for another couple of years, and has played in the AL East before with some success. He represents an upgrade over everyone not named CC Sabathia. He gives innings, and can be a number 2 or 3 pitcher. Like Chris said I wouldn’t be willing to part with Montero or Banuelos for him, but aside from that he would be a nice addition.

    I like Garza’s talent a lot, and think he is in between a 2 and 3. If Danks can supposedly be gotten without giving up Montero, Banuelos, or Betances I would much rather pull the trigger on that deal.

    • As I said in the piece, I think a deal could be built around Swisher, but even there I need at least 1 top pitching prospect in return if I’m Theo, and I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

      If you have Garza, 28 years old and under team control for 2 years and possibly more if you extend him, why wouldn’t you give a top pitching prospect? Having Garza eliminates the need for one of those guys, and you’re getting far more certainty to boot. I’d rather have Garza than either of the Killer Bs.

      A few years ago people didn’t want to trade Joba or Hughes for Haren, Santana, etc. In retrospect, that was the wrong move.

      • Not that I wouldn’t trade one of them for Garza. I certainly would. I meant if both Danks and Garza are available and according to the previous TM Series we could hold onto the B’s and get Danks, I would prefer that deal.

        • Why not both? Danks will reportedly cost Romine+ and Garza would be some combination (not all) of the players listed above. The Yanks can do that and retain one of the Bs and possibly Montero if you deal Swisher for Garza. That’s a great offseason.

          You’d replace Swisher with Belran or Cespedes and have a rebuilt rotation. Hughes to the pen and Burnett to Siberia.

          • I wish lol. But I try and not let my imagination run too wild. Yankees already have the 5 man rotation set as is, I don’t think they would add two more pitchers. Burnett is sticking on this team untill his contract runs out so thats one spot. CC and Nova are two others. I just don’t see them putting Hughes and Garcia both in the pen.

            The more I think about it, the more I would pull the trigger on a deal for Garza. Betances, Phelps, Laird, and Romine should get it done. He would be a young cost controlled pitcher who is at worst a number 3. We would have him for two years at least. Then after next season he could split up the lefties if we pick up a Hamels or Danks. Thats an impressive top 3.

      • The more I think about it the more I’m certain no deal can be made about Swisher. It makes no sense to start rebuilding and do so by taking on Swisher for 1 year and 1 or 2 lower end prospects. If I’m Theo and I don’t get Betances to start the deal I don’t do it. I wouldn’t even want Theo in the position he’s in. They aren’t winning this year, trading Garza for Swisher further makes that a reality.

        • I agree. Rebuilding teams don’t take one year rentals even if the player is productive and underpaid. They want prospects. For Garza I was thinking Betances, Phelps, Laird, and Romine would get it done.

          • Betances, Noesi, and Laird should be enough. Maybe one more guy but as long as the deal would hypothetically be made without including Montero or Banuelos I would be happy.

          • I think you’d need something higher than Laird as a third prospect. Laird simply doesn’t project high enough to be an integral part of any deal.

            I had forgot about Soto myself, that certainly makes a deal harder to make. I still think any package for Garza gets built around Betances however, if you are Theo it makes no sense to start with less from where I’m sitting.

  4. Yankee trade chips that match:

    Jesus Montero (1B)


    How many professional games has Montero played at 1B? In my opinion, any trade discussions that assume that NL GMs will consider Montero a first baseman are misguided. Yeah, he may be able to make the transition but there’s absolutely no evidence that he will be any better at that than he is at C.

    Montero’s best position might very well end up being DH which makes him much less valuable to NL teams meaning you have to discount what you can expect in return for him.

      • Steve, please correct me if I’m wrong. But if all Montero is destined to be is a DH aren’t his days as a Yankee numbered? It seems to me the Yankees like to have a DH can when necessary play another position. Also, in just a couple of years A-Rod will probably be getting a lot more of his AB’s DH’ing. I think a natural consequence of that is Montero if all he can do is DH goes bye, bye.

    • If he’s athletic enough to pretend to be a catcher now he’s athletic enough to play first base later. He may never be good at it but being bad at first is much better for the team than being awful at catcher.

  5. Thats why we implement the “Victor Martinez Plan” for Montero. Keep him at DH now and when Martin has a scheduled day off, let him catch to see if he can play the position. If were going to assume he’s a poor catcher because of reports, we also have to assume that hes a monster hitter. If he hits as good as reported, he is still an asset at catcher. However, when Tex needs a day off/given a half day off at DH, we put Montero at first. When Tex’s contract is up in 5 years, Montero will be done with his arbitration years. Let Tex walk and sign Montero up.

    • Tex will be 37 years old when it’s time for him to negotiate a new contract. Just a guess on my part but whether or not Montero is ready to assume a position in the field the Yankees will let Tex walk.

      • Yes lol of course. But im saying the Yanks will already have the hole plugged potentially. I mean if the kid rakes like everyone says he can, but is a poor catcher like everyone says he is, then he can’t really be our everyday catcher. He can’t stay at DH because eventually ARod will need that spot. So why not use this time to simultaneously see if he can stick at either position? Its not like either position is being handed to him, no pressure, plenty of time to learn. As long as he hits, it would be smart to find a place for him.

    • We’re not assuming he’s a terrible catcher because of reports… He simply showed himself to be a horrible catcher by playing the position poorly. He is always going to be a passed ball nightmare behind the plate. He showed a little better ability to throw from the crouch but he can’t block balls at all, and his framing skills are really poor.

  6. But as far as a trade for any starting pitcher, I think its a move the Yankees absolutely should make.Can Hughes be a starting pitcher? Can Nova out pitch his peripherals again? Can AJ be more than the leagues most overpaid back end starter? Is Garcia going to trick everyone into swinging at slop, and have another career low HR/FB rate?

    The Yankees have enough prospects to get a deal done for one of them and hypothetically still keep 2 or even 3 of their top prospects. To not make a deal for one of those two, who represent clear upgrades over every pitcher on your roster outside of CC, would be a failure on Cashmans part. They have the chips, they certainly have the need. I would be very disappointed if a deal didn’t get done.

  7. I understnad the eagerness to imprive the rotation. But I think with the new CBA the elite prospects we have are far more valuable than they were just a week ago. Truth is, with the Yanks handcuffed on amateur and IFA sigginings it could be many years before we again have the likes of Betances and Banuelos at the doorstep — ready to fill spots relatively cheaply for several years.

    • Because they are both guaranteed to become even medicore starters, let alone stars in the rotation?

      We still have the opportunity to get top IFA, we just won’t be loading up on them. It shouldn’t stop us from making a trade we feel makes sense now.

        • From Wikipedia:

          In 2008, the Yankees signed four players, including Banuelos and Alfredo Aceves, from the Mexican League for $450,000.

          • The funny thing is I believe they were going to scout Aceves primarily. The saw the rest including Banuelos at the workouts and signed the lot. So Aceves has really brought endless amounts of value to the Yankees in multiple ways. I think Jorge Vazquez may have been in that group as well.

      • Highly questionable that we’ll get much of anything since budgets will depend on prior year records. All spending will be capped but the teams with the best records will get the smallest budgets. As long as the Yankees are good they will be penalized with low caps. Add that to the caps on amateur drafts (which will also favor poor performing teams) and there is simply no question that the Yankees — unless they sink to the bottom half of the league — will have far more trouble finding young talent.

    • I know its very important to keep prospects, now more than ever for the Yankees. This is as close to a rebuilding process as the Yankees come to with all their aging stars and positions locked into long term contracts. I’m not advocating selling the farm. There are few pitchers I would trade Montero or Banuelos for. But everyone else is pretty much expendable to me. The way the Yankees are, there isn’t a lot of room to integrate the farm kids onto the team anyway. If theres a way to drastically improve the team for now and the future (Garza is 28 and Danks 26) while holding onto best of your prospects, you have to do it.