June 24, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza (22) throws during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE
One in a series of articles previewing the upcoming trade deadline. Previous entries:
Next up on our tour of potentially available trade targets is another member of the Cubs rotation.
Matt Garza has already been traded twice, which is unusual for a pitcher as talented as he is. The Twins drafted (1st Round, 2005) and developed Garza, but would deal him to Tampa Bay before he got a full season in. The Twins, who were looking for a middle-of-the-order bat, dealt Garza, Jason Bartlett, and minor-leaguer Eddie Morlan for Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, and minor-leaguer Jason Pridie. Delmon Young, who was considered one of the best position prospects in the majors (he was in the top-5 of Baseball America's rankings for four straight years), was largely a disappointment, as was Harris, but Garza has mostly lived up to his potential, as you can see.
After Garza's third season with the Rays, Tampa Bay, feeling that they were dealing from an organizational strength, dealt him to the Cubs for five players (including former Tribe farmhand Chris Archer). In his 1.5 seasons with the Cubs, Garza has continued to be a workhorse, though 2012 has been a down year by his standards (though his hit and strikeout rates look good).
Garza throws a mid-90s fastball, a slider, a curve, and at times a changeup. Tampa encourages all their starters to throw a changeup, so Garza threw one, but he's largely abandoned it in favor of his slider since arriving in Chicago. Even though Garza has been a good starter from almost the beginning of his career, he's never really put it all together in a season.
Garza is making $9.5M this year, and will be eligible for arbitration after the season. He started 2012 with 4.149 years service time, meaning that he'll be eligible for free agency after the 2013 season.
Even though Garza's having a down year, he would have the best ERA on the staff excepting Zach McAllister, who has only made 8 starts. If Garza was acquired without having to deal one of the current starters, Josh Tomlin would be the one forced out of the rotation.
3B Lonnie Chisenhall (injured), RHP Jeanmar Gomez, OF Luigi Rodriguez
With Garza not a free agent until next season, and with the Cubs having the financial wherewithal to extend him if they wanted to, it's going to take a good package to land him, and I don't know if the Indians have a headliner in the minors if Francisco Lindor is off the table.
So I went with Chisenhall, but that obviously assumes that the Cubs would be ok dealing for a player who just had surgery to repair a fractured arm. The Cubs need a third baseman badly, and Chisenhall is ready to start at the major-league level. This deal would not hurt the Indians in 2012 as Chisenhall is essentially out for the year, but it would be a long-term hit, as Chisenhall was going to be the starting third baseman for 2013 and beyond. On paper, the deal gives the Indians a deep rotation, as they'd add Garza to a rotation with Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, McAllister, and Carlos Carrasco, not to mention Josh Tomlin and Roberto Hernandez (if he ever gets his visa).