Examining the Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays deal for Matt Garza


Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

With Mike Olt proving his worth this spring and eventually making the big league team, let’s look back on how Olt actually ended up with the Chicago Cubs while also reflecting on how the trade has turned out for both teams.

On January 8, 2011 the Cubs and Jim Hendry acquired reliable right-hander Matt Garza, reliever Zac Rosscup, and outfielder Fernando Perez from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Sam Fuld, and four prospects; Hak-Ju Lee, Brandon Guyer, Robinson Chirinos, and most notably, Chris Archer.

Matt Garza: In two and a half years with the Chicago Cubs, Garza did just what they acquired him for, posting a 3.45 ERA in about 373 innings pitched. Garza pitched to an 8.6 K/9 rate while averaging just 2.8 walks per nine innings, not to mention Garza provided very valuable clubhouse leadership and was a terrific guy to have in the clubhouse. With the team floundering in Garza’s tenure in Chicago, not winning more than 71 games in any of his 2 1/2 seasons, the biggest contribution he made to the organization was by far the Texas Rangers trade. Of course, the Cubs got four players; Mike Olt, C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez in exchange for the right-hander.

Zac Rosscup: The less notable pitcher acquired from Tampa Bay turned out to be with the Cubs the longest, as with a minor league ERA of 2.62 featuring a K/9 rate over ten, Rosscup seems to be a future piece of the Chicago Cubs’ bullpen – possibly as soon as 2014. Rosscup is a solid left-hander to have in Triple-A in case of a James Russell trade, and with another strong minor league season Rosscup could make an impact at Wrigley this year. After posting a 2.12 ERA in 50-plus innings between Double-A and Triple-A last year, while striking out a staggering 14.6 per nine, there seems to be a nice future ahead for the 25-year-old.

Fernando Perez: Perez turned out to be a lost cause for Chicago, playing in just 76 minor league games while hitting just .238/.313./.337 before heading to the New York Mets that same year. Perez played for the Sugar Land Skeeters and Landcaster Barnstormers in 2013, hitting near the .238 mark once again.

Robinson Chirinos: Chirinos has been around for a very long time for a 29-year-old, originally signing with the Cubs way back in 2000 as just a 17-year-old teenager. His final two years with the Cubs prior to getting traded to the Rays were fantastic for a minor-league catcher, hitting .296 with an OBP over .360 between Advanced-A ball and Double-A in 2009, and an even better .326 average between Double-A and Triple-A in 2010, getting on base at a .416 clip. A year after being acquired by Tampa Bay, Chirinos suffered concussion problems in 2012, ending his time in Tampa Bay. Chirinos is still latching on with teams as the 2014 season looms, and is now with the Texas Rangers.

Sam Fuld: There’s nothing much to say here, as Sam Fuld did what he does with the Rays, finishing up with a terrible .231/.301/.326 line in three years with them. Fuld’s biggest contribution was making a lot of flashy catches to earn the love of fans in Tampa Bay. The Rays and Fuld parted ways over the offseason, as he headed to the Oakland Athletics.

Brandon Guyer: Guyer was performing well with the Cubs’ Double-A affiliate at the time of the deal, coming off of a season in which he hit .344 with an OBP near .400 in 102 games, then headed off to Triple-A with his new club in the Sunshine State. The 28-year-old has actually put up very strong minor league numbers with the Rays, putting up a .307/.378/.487 line in three seasons at Triple-A, getting a couple tastes of the Majors but never really sticking.

Hak-Ju LeeThe Cubs gave up a great talent in 19-year-old Lee at the time, but now, at 23-years-old, he has yet to really take off thanks largely to health. However, when healthy, Lee struggled offensively in two seasons at the Double-A level, hitting just .249 with a .325 on-base percentage. Lee jumped to Triple-A in 2013 though, and was crushing it in his first 15 games to the tune of a .425 average, but dealt with big injury issues after tearing ligaments in his knee and missing the rest of the season. At just 23 years of age, Lee could definitely still make an impact at the big league level even with limited offensive upside.

Chris Archer: This is the one that hurts. Archer broke out in a serious way last season, posting a 3.22 ERA in roughly 129 innings to finish in third place to Tigers’ Jose Iglesias and teammate Wil Myers in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. With the Cubs’ desperate need for young pitching at this stage of the rebuild, this is the one player that really haunts the Cubs from this massive deal. We just all have to hope C.J. Edwards can turn into that ace of the staff to really drown out the loss of such a talented young pitcher.

Overall, because of the 2013 Matt Garza deal, this hasn’t turned out to hurt the Cubs too badly. Yes, Chris Archer turned out to be a near-Rookie of the Year winner, but last year Theo and Jed made up for a possible Jim Hendry mistake. There could be an argument made that C.J. Edwards, Mike Olt, Justin Grimm, and Neil Ramirez outweigh the loss of Archer, especially if Olt steps up this season and solidifies himself into the future plans of the Cubs.

If you take all of the outcomes into account, the players acquired later for Matt Garza and what the Cubs did get from Garza in his time in Chicago, I would say most Cubs fans would make this trade again if they knew the amount of young talent they would get from Texas two years later.