Scouting The Trade Market: Matt Garza


The Yankees are slowly continuing their never-ending search for a starting pitcher(s), choosing to let the market come to them this winter rather than jumping in headfirst. Lost in the new CBA madness yesterday was a report from Ken Rosenthal indicating that the Cubs’ new regime is willing to trade Matt Garza, exactly the kind of pitcher the Yankees could use in their rotation. Really, the only way he could be more perfect is if he was left-handed, or at least that’s what the perception is. Let’s break down the former Rays’ qualifications…

The Pros

  • Garza, 28 in a few weeks, has legitimate swing-and-miss stuff. His fastballs (both two- and four-seamers) have been living in the 92-96 mph range for years now, and he backs them up with a mid-80′s slider that eats up righties. He also throw a hard, mid-80′s changeup and a mid-70′s curveball he likes to drop in for a called strike rather than bury in the dirt for a swing-and-miss.
  • The peripheral stats (2.95 FIP) are as good as it gets. Garza struck out 23.5% of the batters he faced in 2011 (8.85 K/9) while walking just 7.5% (2.86 BB/9), and he got a ground ball 46.3% of the time. That allowed him to keep the ball in the building (0.64 HR/9) despite pitching in a notorious hitters’ park.
  • Garza has proven to be durable, making at least 30 starts and throwing at least 180 IP in each of the last four seasons. If you go back to 2006 and include his time in in the minors, it’s six straight seasons of at least 30 starts and 175 IP. Pretty impressive.
  • After all that time with the Rays, Garza is obviously familiar with life in the AL East. He’s pitched in the playoffs as well as the World Series, most notably throwing this gem against the Red Sox in Game Seven of the 2008 ALDS.
  • Arbitration-eligible as a Super Two for the third time this winter, MLBTR projects Garza to earn $8.7M in 2012. That puts him in line for $13M+ in 2013, his final trip through arbitration before hitting free agency after the season. It’s not a total bargain, but it’s definitely a below-market salary.

The Cons

  • It wasn’t until he moved to the NL that his performance really jumped into that frontline pitcher category. During his three full seasons with the Rays, Garza pitched to a 4.24 FIP with 7.10 K/9 (18.8% of batters faced) and a 3.04 BB/9 (8.1%). Rock solid numbers, but hardly ace-like.
  • Up until this year, Garza was a rather extreme fly ball pitcher. He had a measly little 39.0% ground ball rate during his three years in Tampa, allowing one homer for every 8.1 IP (1.10 HR/9). That’s in a pitchers’ park too.
  • Garza does have a bit of a reputation as a hothead, getting into a handful of altercations with teammates over the years. This on-field incident with Dioner Navarro is probably the most memorable. I don’t put much stock into it, but it did happen.
  • Although he’s been very durable in his career, Garza does have a pair of elbow-related DL stints to his credit. He missed close to three weeks this summer with a bone bruise, and missed more than two weeks back in 2008 due to an inflamed radial nerve in the elbow.

Garza’s a very interesting case. Based on the PitchFX data, he really changed up his pitching style after moving from the Rays to the Cubs. He scaled back the usage of his fastballs, throwing them about 50% of the time rather than 60+% of the time, and mixing in a lot more offspeed stuff. More sliders, more curveballs, more changeups, he threw all three of those pitches at least 10% of the time this past season. That’s a first for him. That begs the question: was his drastic improvement this year the result of changing his plan of attack, or moving to the easier league?

I’m pretty confident in saying that the answer is a little of both. Garza is very unlikely to maintain the sub-3.00 FIP he posted in 2011 after a move to the AL East, but that’s not a knock on him because no one does that. The great Roy Halladay had one sub-3.00 FIP season in all his years with the Blue Jays, and it came almost a decade ago. Even if he regresses to a ~3.50 FIP guy moving back into the tougher league, holy cow is that guy valuable, especially over 30+ starts and 200 or so innings. Garza does play with a lot of confidence and swagger, which like to see, but also the kind of confidence and swagger that’s easily misconstrued when he’s struggling.

As far as comparable trades, there’s obviously the one that sent Garza to the Cubs last offseason. The Rays received five young players in return, including two high-end prospects (Chris Archer and Hak-Ju Lee), a fourth outfielder (Sam Fuld), and two useful Triple-A pieces (Robinson Chirinos and Brandon Guyer). That was for three years of Garza though, not two. The Shaun Marcum swap also fits to a certain extent; the Blue Jays got one top-25 caliber prospect (Brett Lawrie) for two years of Marcum. Two years of Zack Greinke returned a defense-first shortstop (Alcides Escobar), a potential above-average center fielder (Lorenzo Cain), a hard-throwing reliever (Jeremy Jeffress), and a top pitching prospect in the low minors (Jake Odorizzi). That trade was universally panned though, most felt the Royals looked to fill specific needs rather than focus on getting the best possible return.

Brian Cashman and Epstein* have never made a trade because of the Yankees-Red Sox thing, but that doesn’t mean anything now. The Yankees should absolutely call to see what it would take to acquire Garza, and I think they should pursue a trade as long as the Cubs aren’t being completely out of this world unreasonable. Based on the recent deals involving similar pitchers, it sounds like it’ll take a four-player package of youngsters, with at least one of them being a true stud and the others being useful players, not throw-ins.

* Epstein is technically the President of Baseball Ops and Jed Hoyer is the GM, but I have to imagine Theo will somehow be involved in a trade involving his team’s best pitcher and a guy that could legitimately be part of the next contending Cubs’ team.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

    Interested, but would probably cost too much. Focus on FAs after 2012 rather than a big splash via trade.

  2. Gonzo says:

    Name that package!

  3. Pounder says:

    Throw in that big lefty reliever of theirs and I would not hesitate to a deal involving Montero and some others.

  4. Tarik says:

    Considering what you said would need to be in a potential package, would Banuelos have to frontline or could Cashman get by with Betances up front?

    • Mike Axisa says:

      I’d prefer it if it was Betances, but I’d give up Banuelos.

      Banuelos + Noesi + Romine + low level arm? Could the Yankees really say no to that?

      • Tarik says:

        That’s about what I thought.

        Thanks Mike.

      • Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

        I’d say no. There is a need for an extra solid starter. There is not a need for an extra solid starter at any cost. They can get creative in 2012 again and make the big splash in free agency after the season, or have a better idea as to the kids’ development.

        I’d consider a trade not involving Montero, Banuelos, or Betances. I overrate Betances. It’s what I do. If there’s a chance he turns into that frontline starter he could be, I want the New York kid to do it in New York.

      • gxpanos says:

        I think Cash should start with a Betances/Noesi/Romine package and be willing to upgrade Betances to Manny if Theo insists. It’s a worthy gamble on Manny’s future even if Garza is a ~3.75,~4 FIP guy the next 5 years.

        • MattG says:

          Next 2 years. Not 5–2.

          • gxpanos says:

            Yeah, I should have been clearer–assuming he’s good enough that they Yankees re-sign him after the initial two years. If he stinks and is gone in two years, they’ll have lost the trade, obviously, but I still think it’s worth the risk.

            • MattG says:

              Whether the Yankees would extend him or not is irrelevant. The players traded would allow them to control him for two years only.

              • gxpanos says:

                Ugh. This argument on this site is so stupid.

                Trade value is subjective. All this is silly semantics.

                If Garza plays for the Yankees for two years, they have a great chance to extend him, better than if they don’t trade for him. That is worth something.

                • MattG says:

                  Whatever value it has is completely mitigated by the chance he will get injured or seriously suck after the extension kicks in. It is ridiculous to consider value other than exactly what comes in the trade. Trying to anticipate the series of events that lead to a successful extension is complete folly.

                  • Ted Nelson says:

                    It’s silly to decide your theory is right without testing it. You have to consider how much more likely a player is to resign with his own team. I haven’t quantified that. To make the claim you are making you’d have to.

                    The injury risk argument is pretty Irrelevant. Every player has an injury risk. Banuelos might get hurt tomorrow too.

      • dean says:

        Yes they could…that’s a lot to give

      • MattG says:

        Yeah, I have to say ‘no’ to that. Just look at it again:

        Banuelos + Noesi + Romine + whatever + about $22 million = 2 years of Matt Garza

        There are better ways to add a pitcher to this staff than that.

        • Mike Axisa says:

          You’re giving up one guy off the ML roster (Noesi, since Romine doesn’t really count) and three minor leaguers, none of whom have any extended success above Double-A. You’re getting two of Garza’s prime years that also line up with Sabathia’s last few prime years, as well as whatever’s left of A-Rod, Jeter, and Mo.

          • Dan says:

            I agree, and the trade finally gives the Yankees a real #2 since AJ hasn’t come close to being that. It allows them to go into next year with a strong rotation as CC, Garza, Nova, AJ, Hughes > CC, Nova, Darvish/Garcia, AJ, Hughes. The biggest thing for me is also that you know what you are getting with Garza. Darvish is an unknown and Garcia has had injury problems and his stuff doesn’t instill confidence against better offenses. Only one of those players mentioned would have realistically had any role on the Yankees this season or possibly the following season. Noesi and Romine both could end up helping the Yankees this year, but that would only be if there are a number of injuries to the rotation and either Martin or Montero.

          • Hardy says:

            If the Yankees plan to be contenders from 2014 to 2020 your last sentence should not matter for the decision.

            • Mike Axisa says:

              Of course they plan on being contenders from 2014-2020. It’s not an either or, they can be contenders the next few years and then the next six years as well.

              Given up four prospects isn’t the end of the world, especially since two of them are likely to flame out anyway. It’s just the way these things go.

              • Ted Nelson says:

                They want to do both by getting good rather than bad trade value. I believe Garza will represent the latter as a career mid-rotation starter coming off of a career year. You’re going to be trading for an ace and probably not getting one.

                Cash man has tended to buy low rather than high on major acquisitions.

          • MattG says:

            All Garza really offers over some other alternatives is an expectation of a little bit better performance (Jackson, Wilson) or more certainty (Darvish). In all cases, I think the cost of this trade outweighs the benefit.

            Please know this is not to be misconstrued to think I condone signing Jackson or Wilson (but I do think Darvish is an excellent strategy). I condone waiting for someone with palatable price in talent. That will probably be someone one year from free agency, and making too much money.

  5. Soriano is a Liar says:

    Swisher and Nunez for Garza!


  6. Never was a huge Garza fan and assumed his move to the NL was the big reason for his jump in number this year. However, the pitch selectin certainly makes a lot of sense and can help explain some of it. If he really has changed his plan of attack then it sure seems like a perfect fit.

    Great write up, very interesting stuff.

  7. Never was a huge Garza fan and assumed his move to the NL was the big reason for his jump in number this year. However, the pitch selectin certainly makes a lot of sense and can help explain some of it. If he really has changed his plan of attack then it sure seems like a perfect fit.
    Great write up, very interesting stuff.

  8. Plank says:

    Sorry if this is too off topic (Theo related) but did the Red Sox and Cubs figure out compensation for Theo switching teams?

  9. dean says:

    Never trade with geniuses like Theo

  10. Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

    I always liked Garza because he can beat the Red Sox and at the moment it seems that everyone we throw out there is blasted. However, if Epstein has something to do with it he would probably ask for Montero, Banuelos or Betances or both plus Noesi. I say this because that is what I’d ask for if I were Epstein. That would be just too much to give for one pitcher. I would not make that trade.

    • Kosmo says:

      Garza for Banuelos, Romine, Warren and Joseph IMO would be a good deal for both teams.

      • Mike says:

        I wouldn’t give them Manny.. Betances.. yes

        • Kosmo says:

          The Cubs will want Banuelos not Betances. I think the Cubs are in the drivers seat on such a deal.
          I also am a bit biased regarding Betances. I believe he´s a NY native and I would like to see him succeed in NY.

        • Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

          I don’t think Romine would enter into it since they have Soto at regular catcher and he has been better than average for them. We have nothing but pitching to offer except for Nunie and I am not sure if the Cubs can use him (maybe at third).

      • Mike HC says:

        I wish some of these minor league games were on tv a bit more. Just personally, I would have a more informed opinion on Banuelos and Betances, and some of the other top prospects, if I could have watched a handful of their starts last year.

        Just going by what other people write about them, it is hard to know how good Banuelos really is. From the 2 innings or so he pitched against the Red Sox in Spring Training that I saw, he looked great, but that is a pretty small sample, ha.

  11. Mike says:

    Garza is EXACTLY what the Yanks need. He’s a competitor , puts up good numbers across the board . AL EAST battle tested with very good numbers against Boston!. young only 28 ..

    Man . .Cashmoney !! .. . this is the guy..

  12. Mike HC says:

    I consider Buehrle and Garza to be on about the same level. And I guess added bonus to Garza because of the extra year of control. Seems like both would require a hefty price tag, probably a bit more for Garza at this point due to the career year and extra year under contract.

  13. Bronx Byte says:

    Garza ……. yes but only when Cashman can dispose of Burnett. Can’t see the good young arms held back for another 2 years of Burnett who at best is a No. 5.

  14. Chris says:

    Any package that requires Montero, Betances or Banuelos as a headliner should be for an ace age 27-under. Garza is not that ace. It is also known that Cashman is looking for another lefty starter but he has one that might be a year or two away. And he is certainly special.

    We all know that Cashman and fans overvalue their prospects as they should, but why stop now for Garza. Makes no sense.

    Now what I might do is trade Montero or Montero and Betances for Matt Moore. But dealing within the division is very difficult to pull off. I think both teams would look hard about that possibility. But I imagine the Rays prefer to deal Shields and others before Moore.

    • MannyGeee says:

      Who are these available aces under 27? Garza is kind of as good as it gets in this market. especially if you can make it happen for one of Banuelos/Dellin and no Montero.

      • Chris says:

        My point exactly. It’s known that Cashman will only trade top prospects for top arms. If there isn’t an “ace” available then the Yankees should stand pat.

        I’ve been on the Darvish train for awhile though. Hope he posts.

        • Mike HC says:

          I thought it was more that he wouldn’t trade Montero. But you could be right, maybe Banuelos is in Montero category in Cashman’s head.

          We might get a better idea of where Cashman values Banuelos when things start picking up this off season, free agent signings, trades, trade rumors, etc …

  15. Peter R says:

    Hughes + Rommie + Noesi + Nunez = done

    • Freddy Garcia's 86 mph Heat says:

      That is way too much for Garza.

      • Freddy Garcia's 86 mph Heat says:

        Considering that Danks and others will probably be available for less.

        • Bill says:

          Danks isn’t better than Garza. lefty and all. Danks regression last year scares me

          • Brooklyn Ed says:

            So every pitcher that has ONE bad year scares you? I wouldn’t even call it bad neither, he just had a ok season. He got the ball rolling during the season. Then might as well not trade every great/decent pitcher that “regressed” for ONE year.

        • Mike Axisa says:

          How in the world is that too much? Who’s the stud you’re giving away?

          • Freddy Garcia's 86 mph Heat says:

            It’s too much because I think Danks can be had for less.

            • MannyGeee says:

              got to stop considering just ‘price’ when thinking about these trades.

              you will obviously pay more for Felix or Lincecum than you would for Garza, and everyone seems OK with that. but go one tier down and no one wants to give up anything for a 2nd tier pitcher… not how the world works, kids.

            • Peter R says:

              DO BOTH! lol

          • Peter R says:

            Ya that’s the only problem with it…no big name to twinkle in the Cubs eyes…Hughes just isnt that big name anymore.

            But it would give the Cubs 3 ML ready cheap players (2 pitchers who could pitch prob for ~4 FIP hopefully) and a defensive catcher prospect. And if the Cubies think they can do something with Hughes “stuff”, patience and the NL they might bite…wouldnt hurt to offer. lol.

            • MannyGeee says:

              that is a ‘rebuild special’ package right there. FWIW all 4 of those guys could start in Chicago in 2012. no doubt about it.

              I make that deal

    • Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

      I’d do that. Garza’s only a couple of years older than Hughesie at this point anyway, plus I could still root for him as a Cub. I’d do this over including Montero/Banuelos/Betances. Sure.

    • Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

      Although I still have faith in Hughes I would make this trade.
      The question is would the Cubs bite.

    • CJ says:

      Don’t sell low on Phil Hughes. That will be a huge mistake. Hughes value (to the Yanks) should be considered the same as it was a year ago.

  16. Frankeee1 says:

    I dont think we should under emphasize Garza’s emotional issues. If I remember correctly that why the Twins traded him to to Tampa. That was Minnesota, this is New York. This guy has Pavano, Rogers and especially Wever written all over him. At best another AJ. I say stay away.

    • Steve says:

      Why… because he’s competiive ? because he shows emotion ? . .thats not a bad thing at all. He’s FAR from Carlos Z.

    • Billion$Bullpen says:

      This is a valid issue. The kid is weak minded and has shown this. We already have one mental midget in AJ, I prefer no more. If we wanted a very talented nutcase starter I think we would have been in on Greinke.

      Talent is usually supreme. But I would prefer a tad less talent with somebody who gets it any day of the week, especially in the fish bowl that is Yankees.

      • Mike Axisa says:

        The kid is weak minded and has shown this.


        • Billion$Bullpen says:

          Every time he has to look into his hat and read what he wrote to calm him down. You need more than that how bout 2008 WS? His stuff was on point, his head was not. Since you may need a online reference: http://www.baseballmentalgame......-emotions/

          Anybody that has those issues that he has to work through as a starter in the Bronx should raise significant red flags. I am not saying I would not want the guy at any cost, I am saying I would not want him at the cost of giving up the various packages that are being thrown around here.

          I do not base how good or bad somebody I think somebody will be from another team (or even our own) would be just off of previous years stats or ANY projections based on stats alone. They are just one way to look at something, not the only way. Having and measuring data is a good thing but reading too much into it can be foolish. For all the data that can be culled there is more that is not that could effect the outcome of how well one player does from year to year.

          • Mike Axisa says:

            So he couldn’t control his emotions in the World Series, but he could four days earlier in Game Seven of the ALCS? Do you realize how silly that sounds?

            Oh my goodness, he has to read something on his hat! The humanity!

      • John says:

        He’s weak minded because he shows emotion ??? Im sorry he’s not your typical Yankee Robot . Doesn’t make sense to me

        How about Swisher ?? is it ok to have that Clown .. dance and play and show his emotions . . .But Garza can’t

    • Rainbow Connection says:

      Pavano had emotional issues?
      What are you taking about???

  17. Joe L. says:

    Garza is proven in the AL East.. But I still wouldn’t sell the farm for him just yet.. Cashman has other options to consider before dealing from our strengths.. I like Buehrle better and Danks could be a trading posibility as well.. I think this team is looking for a left handed starter, whether Cashman can get one is the question..

    • MannyGeee says:

      very good RHP >>>>>>>> so-so LHP…

      what do you like better about Buehlre, besides the asking price?

    • thenamestsam says:

      The whole “proven in the AL East” thing is a little silly isn’t it? For one, it’s not like it’s that much harder than the other divisions. Danks (just an example) last year had in his division the 4th best offense in the majors(by runs), 10th, 16th and 25th. On the Yankees he would face the best, 6th 14th and 15th. The AL East slate is a bit harder but the AL East doesn’t look nearly as ridiculous on offense if you don’t have to face the Yankees.

      Besides AJ was AL East proven (and dominated the Red Sox!, and that didn’t really work out).

      • JAG says:

        To be fair, Garza’s AL-East-proven pedigree carries a little more weight because he pitched against the Red Sox AND the Yankees, and the Jays offense wasn’t too bad if I recall. I think only a comparable pitcher on the Orioles would have a more convincing argument.

        • thenamestsam says:

          I agree with you that it makes Garza’s pedigree even more impressive, because he was facing a much harder slate in his time with the Rays then he would be with the Yankees. I’m just saying that people toss around the line about how hard it is to pitch in the AL East when referring to the Yankees acquiring pitchers. In actuality, if you’re on the Yankees or the Red Sox pitching in the AL East isn’t THAT much worse than other divisions.

  18. Rainbow Connection says:

    So basically what I’ve learned so far in this tread is that the dude was SEVERE emotional issues (just like Pavano???) and he can’t pitch in the AL East. Bunch of geniuses.

  19. mustang says:

    I hate to say this on this site but unless some unforeseen name comes up if the Yankees want Garza or Gio then the bidding starts with Montero. I can’t see a GM ask for anything less when you’re giving up good/ possibly ace controlled starting pitching in this kind of market. And with the Yankees offensive depth, minor league catching depth and Montero’s presumed inability to be a full time catcher I don’t see how the Yankees wouldn’t do it.

    I know I know the “Miguel Cabrera” type bat.

    • mustang says:

      By “unforeseen name comes up” I mean the Tim Lincecum of the world, which I think most people would give up Montero for maybe.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      I do not personally think the Yankees will trade Monterp for Garza or Gio. They can say no really, really easily. A mediocre AA C and some A Cs isn’t a good reason to trade your best prospect in a decade. Nor IMO is a solid starter.

      • mustang says:

        I might agree on the “A mediocre AA C and some A Cs isn’t a good reason to trade your best prospect in a decade.” part but I don’t agree on the “Nor IMO is a solid starter”.

        The bottom-line is that the Yankees have less of a need for a 21-year-old DH/C and have more a need for a 25 to 27 year old solid #2 starter that is under control.

  20. Cy young says:

    Does anyone think the yanks can still trade for Felix Hernandez and if so what Seattle would want in return?

  21. Javierkei Burnigavano says:

    I would trade Betances or Banuelos and throw in Romine to get who ever is in charge of scouting starting pitching for Tampa Bay.

    It’s been 16 years since the Yankee farm system turned out a perennially excellent starting pitcher who’s able to do it in NY (Andy Pettite).

    C’mon there is a problem here.

    CC’s big body is just one injury away from the Yankees being an 85 win team.

    If there’s been one thing that’s held this team back the past 5-7 years it has been the farm system not producing pitching, and at some point you have to ask why.

    Garza or Gio Gonzalez would both be nice (I agree that Garza>Gonzalez), but you know what would be really, really nice? Matt Moore or Jeremy Hellickson. Let’s draft one of those guys, develop them, and then sign them to an extension after 3 or 4 years of dominance.

    Can that happen once every twenty years please?

  22. Ted Nelson says:

    Garza is overrated and I’m willing to bet will be overpriced.

    Guy had one very good year… It’s about as likely to be a career year as break out year. Buying high is a mistake more often than not. Buy low on someone who will be good next year, not high on someone who was good last year. Until last year he was a mid-rotation starter.

    Considering who much shit you talk about just about every other available starter… I’m blown away. Don’t give up Betances for Danks… But by all means trade Banuelos, Noesi, Romine, and another prospect for Garza?

    • CC says:

      Dude, why do you even hang around here? Everything you say is falling on def ears. No one cares.

      • mustang says:

        Wow! No need for this the guy has an opinion and he should be allow to express it I for one care to hear it. If you don’t then don’t reply to his comment, but please stop being a spoke person for the rest of us.
        No need to be rude.

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