The Price for Matt Garza is Worth It

Although no clear favorite has emerged in acquiring Cubs RHP Matt Garza,  Jon Heyman of reports the Yankees, Blue Jays, Tigers, Red Sox and Marlins are all in the mix. I believe if the Yankees want Garza there is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to make a deal.

Although Garza isn’t Felix Hernandez, he’s probably the best pitcher available via trade this offseason. Garza had an outstanding year for the Cubs in 2011 despite a 10-10 record. Any pitcher that strikes out a batter per inning, with less than 3 BB/9 deserves a better fate. His move to the National League reduced his ERA by more than a half a run, and he was even stingier in the second half of the season with a 2.45 ERA. Garza is going to be 28 years old next year and I believe is poised to break out and become a potential ace. His track record in the AL East should make Brian Cashman comfortable that he isn’t acquiring the next A.J. Burnett or Carl Pavano. I even advocated Sandy Alderson making a run at Garza earlier this offseason.

Reports are the Cubs looking for (what else) young pitching to replenish their farm system. The Yankees have an abundance of it, and both Cashman and Theo Epstein have a good relationship. I doubt you would get the unreasonable requests that you’ve seen with Kenny Williams, Jack Zduriencik, or Billy Beane. With that said, acquiring Garza won’t be cheap, especially with the rich packages fetched for Mat Latos and Gio Gonzalez.

I am thinking one Killer B (probably Dellin Betances), one of David Phelps or Adam Warren, and perhaps a positional prospect like Austin Romine. This is a rich, but very fair package. I do wonder if Epstein would ask for a third pitcher pitcher more major league ready (Phil Hughes), but I doubt the Yankees would bite; and those goes for Jesus Montero or Gary Sanchez as well.

Assuming the package is along the reasonable side, do you make this deal? I say yes. I think the one prospect that would hurt to give up is Betances, but it’s no secret the Banuelos is ranked higher by the Yankees brass, and Betances wildness makes you wonder if he is destined to become another mediocre wild hard thrower. Those guys are a dime a dozen.

Financially, the Yankees would control Garza for the next two years as he isn’t a free agent until 2014. With Burnett coming off the books after the 2013 season there will be some extra money to lock him up long-term. Garza does have a reputation for being a bit difficult. One former Tampa catcher told a story of how he would sometimes change his pitch selection while in the windup. With a veteran catcher like Russell Martin and pitching coach like Larry Rothschild this shouldn’t be as much of an issue in New York.  Remember, Yankee pinstripes have a way of straightening players out. I also trust the brass has looked into Garza’s makeup before they pull a trigger on a deal.

Before you cry over Betances, Warren, or even a Phelps, in a best case scenario are they going to be as good as Garza? Maybe. Better? Who knows, but if they are it probably would take 2-3 years in either scenario. By that time CC Sabathia is in his late prime, Jeter is retired, and who knows what kind of player A-Rod is. You have to be careful with your prospects, especially with the new draft rules, but you can’t hug them too hard if you want to win in the present.

The Yankees have to decide what pitcher is worth spending their surplus pitching prospects on. Felix Hernandez appears to be a pipe dream. Their new internal budget constraints make it unlikely they will pursue a Cole Hamels or Matt Cain next offseason. Furthermore, who knows if either makes it to free agency. Matt Garza appears to be the best choice on the field and for their pocketbook.

By Mike Silva
Monday, 2 Jan 2012

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