Off Again, On Again: Matt Garza

According to Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald, his sources have confirmed that the trade rumor for Matt Garza has regained momentum again. I know many of you are thinking “here we go again”, but the fact that the prospect names have been decided upon leads me to believe that talks have heated up or are closer than first reported merely 48 hours ago. The rumored names going to the Rays for Garza are top ranked Cubs overall prospect (according to Baseball America) Chris Archer, #4 ranked and top SS prospect Hak Ju Lee, potential future leadoff hitter and #10 prospect Brandon Guyer, and catching prospect Robinson Chirinos.

Lee and Chirinos are two names we have heard earlier this offseason when the Garza rumors first broke out. Now that an “official” package offer seems to be in place, what do you guys think? As for my thoughts?

Garza would definitely be a top of the rotation starter for the Cubs under team control through the 2013 season. He is a proven player at the MLB level who has posted great numbers considering he has been pitching against the vaunted AL East, as well as having postseason experience. So going up against the best of what the Reds, Cardinals, and Brewers will throw against the Cubs will not be any worse than what he has already seen. Salary wise, even with an arbitration bump for 2011, he will look like a steal compared to what Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster will be earning over the next couple seasons. And assuming he continues to produce at the rate he has been the last two years, his first free agent contract (or extension if the Cubs choose to go that route before 2013) figures to be in between of what Big Z and Dempster are earning on their current deals. At least one of the current Cubs pitchers’ deals (Dempster) if not both will be off the books by 2013, and the Cubs could very easily allocate those funds on keeping Garza in Cubs pinstripes for 2014 and beyond.

However, many of you have expressed concerns for dealing away multiple top prospects who could very easily fill all of the Cubs roster holes on their own by 2012 and beyond. Thanks to the work our Minor League Writer Luke puts in here at Cubbies Crib, we are all a little more familiar with just what kind of talent the Cubs are potentially dealing away. We all can agree that to get quality you have to give quality. Hendry also has a good track record of dealing touted Cubs prospects for solid veterans. Hee Seop Choi for Derrek Lee. Bobby Hill in the package deal for Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton. As Miles mentions in his blog piece, the only deal that blew up in Hendry’s face was the deal for Juan Pierre which sent three young pitchers to the Marlins, the most notable being Ricky Nolasco.

Many of you are familiar with my stance on this rumored trade since we first heard of it. I have been torn between trying to win now, which the Garza deal would support, or waiting for two years to see if all the prospects can fill out a deep line up and rotation at Wrigley Field. I was especially hesitant on leaning one way or the other on this rumored deal without knowing the exact names.

Even though this isn’t officially part of my “WWJD?” series, I would have to stamp a veto on this proposed deal. I have already admitted that we need to trade quality to get quality, but this rumored package is a little too expensive for my taste. As much as I like Lee, I was resigned to the fact that he and one of the catching prospects would be part of the deal. Using the Brewers deal for Zack Greinke as a measuring stick, I also figured the Cubs would have to include an OF prospect. Considering Tyler Colvin is a developing power OF, I would rather see Brett Jackson included over Guyer, as Guyer projects to be more of a leadoff hitter. The last part in the package being a top rated pitching prospect is also assumed, but I hesitate to send the #1 rated pitcher (Archer) on top of the quality we have already discussed moments ago. If the Rays want Archer, I want them to take slightly lesser rated prospects from the IF and OF prospect depth chart.

As I mentioned in a comment on Jordan’s post about the latest news on this rumor the other day, I believe Hendry is working to make a headline grabbing move in plenty of time to boost Cubs Convention pass sales that have sagged, as well as having that feel good hype going into Spring Training. I have also mentioned repeatedly that Hendry may be viewing his time as Cubs GM as very limited unless he can squeeze out a playoff season before his own contract is up. It is this desperation “mode” that worries me, as his last couple desperation forced deals ended badly (see Bradley, Milton and Pierre, Juan).

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Tags: Aramis Ramirez Baseball America Bobby Hill Brandon Guyer Brett Jackson Bruce Miles Carlos Zambrano Chris Archer Cubs Cubs Convention Daily Herald Derrek Lee Hak Ju Lee Hee Seop Choi Jim Hendry Juan Pierre Kenny Lofton Matt Garza Milton Bradley Ricky Nolasco Robinson Chirinos Ryan Dempster Spring Training Tyler Colvin Zack Greinke

  • Luke Blaize

    Still waiting to hear on the other two players coming back to the Cubs with Garza. They will make or break this deal.

    Fernando Perez might be the OF, and I’ll have an analysis of him as soon as I can. In short, he could be the switch hitting leadoff hitter of 2011 and beyond. Or not. I’ll have more on him this evening.

    I haven’t heard who the pitcher is yet, but I would expect him to be left handed and have major league potential.

    Once we know for sure who is and isn’t in the deal we can get a better idea how well the Cubs did. Right now, I’m cautiously optimistic.

    • joehan

      You have a better handle on the prospects than I do, so if you have some optimism for this deal, I will have a little hope too.

      Perez’s batting average seems to match up from his brief time at the MLB level and his most recent minor league stint. Without looking deeper into the other numbers, for now I feel like he is a throw in that allows us to deal Sam Fuld. I like Fuld as I have a soft spot for scrappy players, but as we all discussed regarding the 40 man roster, Fuld is basically caught behind an already full OF at Wrigley and likely to be lost in the shuffle with Brett Jackson coming up behind him.

      I agree we won’t be able to make the best opinions on this trade until we know all the player details.

  • tex

    I know the Cubs gave up a lot but I am happy to have aquired Matt Garza. He is 27, won 15 games in the AL East, threw a no hitter, and we have control over him for 3 years. You never know about prospects. From Felix Pie to Rich Hill to Heep Seop Choi.

    • Luke Blaize

      Choi was good until his concussion, but I can’t argue that Pie and Hill were busts.

      But to be fair, Theriot, Fontenot, Soto, Colvin, Castro, Barney, Coleman, Wells, and darn near the entire bullpen are also homegrown prospects who haven’t done badly at all. To mention Scott Downs, David Aardsma, Ricky Nolasco, and other guys on other teams now. The Cubs farm system has had more success than it seems a lot of the media give it credit for. The flashy failures of Patterson and Pie tend to drown out the successes.

      • joehan

        Good point. My only concern is that in the past, those prospects along with the farm system in general, were mainly hyped up by the Cubs organization, but not necessarily on equal praise from third parties outside the Cubs.

        I feel the current farm system pre Garza trade has some realistic possibilities considering the praise is coming from outside the Cubs organization as well. And on top of that, the rookies that Luke has mentioned that have already reached Wrigley and have continued their progress of reaching their potential against MLB competition.

  • Ashley

    I like the deal, I just would have loved to have seen Archer pitch for us cause I think he has great talent. I read that Perez was coming in the deal from Tampa and from what I ahve read I am impressed I think Hendry did ok on this trade.

  • tex

    It is always hard to trade prospects because our imagination always has them all develop into all stars one day! The fact remains that most prospects never live up to the hype. Garza is a proven quantity! Now with Garza on will be interesting to see what other deals Hendry will make. Gorzo and/or Wells will more than likely be dealt. With Fernando Perez does that mean Byrd will be dealt instead of Fukodome?

    • joehan

      Good point tex. The short comings of Cubs “hot” prospects making it to Wrigley is well documented. I just felt this revamped farm system in recent years would have been the “class” that changed the trend compared to those past failures. Either way, we will find out in a few years whether this was a good trade for either side or both.

      As for the corresponding move from a body deep starting rotation that is now one more body heavy in Garza, you are right in that either Gorzelanny or Wells is at the top of the list to be dealt. We have already heard the Gorzelanny rumors this offseason. I was actually hoping Gorzelanny would be part of the deal for Garza to help offset some of the salary, even though Garza won’t break the bank through arbitration.

      I also wouldn’t mind adding Samardzija to the trading block list as I haven’t been impressed with him so far.

      I’m not sure how quickly Perez can jump in at the MLB level. Luke hopes to have more info for us on him once the deal is officially finalized (physicals completed), but in my opinion, unless Perez can be a leadoff hitter by its true definition, I would prefer to see Byrd and even Fukudome still on the 2011 roster, with Fukudome holding a platoon/4th OF role. Trading for Garza signals that the Cubs will go for it in 2011 despite the budget constraints, and unless the Cubs are able to unload Fukudome’s contract without paying a chunk of it, I don’t see how either move would benefit the efforts of winning in 2011.

  • tex

    Jim Callis is saying that the pitcher coming back to the Cubs isn’t a top prospect. I would have thought Hendry could have gotten at least a top 10 pitching prospect back. The Rays are loaded with pitching depth in the minors.

    • Luke Blaize

      Chris Archer wasn’t a top prospect at the start of the 2010 season, and neither was Trey McNutt. Casey Coleman and Randy Wells never were that highly touted. That sort of evaluation can be…. fluid. That’s just part of what makes minor league evaluation frustrating.

      I would be very surprised, though, if the pitcher coming back isn’t a guy who will be in the majors. Look at the pitchers Hendry has received in trades over the past two seasons, and look at where they are now. A very high percentage are in the majors or expected to fight for major league jobs this spring. I haven’t seen a name yet, but I’m still expecting it to be a left hander. If he isn’t a top prospect, that probably means he isn’t a power pitcher, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

      • joehan

        I would have been surprised if the pitcher coming back to the Cubs was a top 10 rated pitching prospect. As Luke put very well, minor league rankings can be fluid, and even though Archer is our #1 prospect, there probably wouldn’t be enough skills difference between him and the Rays top 10 pitching prospect that would warrant the Rays sending the pitcher to the Cubs.

  • tex

    If you hear the report that Buster Olney gave on….He is saying that many talent evaluators around baseball are saying that the Rays are not getting any “High Ceiling” guys. Archer is the one guy who in my mind has a high ceiling. It will be interesting to look at this trade years from now.

    • joehan

      You are on top of it today tex. Jordan mentions this tidbit as well in his latest post. We can continue the discussion there. I am ok with the other names involved in the package to the Rays, I am just wondering if a little more hard ball on the part of Hendry could of resulted in swapping out Archer’s name for a “lower” rated pitching prospect who might be two years or more away from the Majors versus Archer who can jump in by 2012 if not earlier.

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