Tampa Bay Rays reportedly trade Matt Garza to Chicago Cubs

That is the breaking news this morning/afternoon. Along with Matt Garza, the Rays will be sending a minor league pitcher and out fielder. In return, the Rays will receive Cubs top prospect Chris Archer, Hak-Ju Lee, Brandon Guyer, Robinson Chirinos, and Sam Fulds. This might not be the biggest blockbuster, but it’s a big time deal. And I like how Tampa makes out.

Personally, I think Matt Garza is overrated at the moment. He is a nice pitcher, but I believe his annual high 3 ERA overrates him, and as a result the MSM talks him up like he is a top of the rotation pitcher. Right now, he is not that good. His BB/9 is okay, as he tends to sit around 3 walks per nine. But his HR/9 is not that good. He gives up lots of fly balls and lots of home runs. He will be headed to Chicago and their infamous wind, where the ball can fly out of the park. Moreover, the division he will pitch in is home to other notorious bandboxes in Cincinnati, Houston, and Milwaukee. The only saving grace is the weaker lineups of the NL and NL Central specifically compared to the AL East.

Granted, he is just 27. I don’t think he’s been great, but I do think he is a solid, good #3ish pitcher. His FIP has been in the low 4’s the past three seasons, and he is good for 30 starts and 200 innings a year. That consistency and dependability merits some value. But he isn’t an ace pitcher- yet. I don’t think he will achieve that status with his HR tendency, but he can emerge as an All-Star caliber pitcher for a few seasons if everything goes right. So the Cubs still are getting a good pitcher. It’s just a matter of if they paid the right price.

Garza will be under team control for three more seasons. But he was paid over $3mil last season, so the 40/60/80 won’t quite work, because he was a Super 2. So I will use a 60/80/100 scale. I have him pegged at 2 WAR or a total of 6 WAR over the next three seasons. Why 2 WAR and not 2.5 or a favorable 3? Well, looking at park factors from the past three seasons, Wrigley is prone to more walks, more runs, and more homers. Garza already had an average walk rate in the Trop and a bad HR in the trop. Going to Wrigley won’t help things unless his skill in those areas improves on its own. So I have his value in 2011 at $9mil, 10$mil in 2012, and $11mil in 2013 for a total of $30. Using the 60/80/10 scale he should be paid and will probably be paid around $24mil for $30mil worth of value. So yeah, the Cubs get a good net value there. BUT, there is something to consider…

…the prospects they are giving up.

Chris Archer is the Cubs number prospect according to BA. He has put up some real good numbers in the minors so far, outside a bad walk rate, and figures to be a pretty good closer or reliever in the future. The Rays will also be getting Hak-Ju Lee, the Cubs #4 rated prospect. He is a twenty year old prospect with speed and lots and lots of potential. After trading Jason Bartlett, it appears that Tampa just got their shortstop of the future. Brandon Guyer is a defense guy. He was the Cubs #10 rated prospect, and his offense is okay. But he was the Cubs best defensive outfielder in the minors. We know Tampa loves defense. Depending on his upcoming season, Guyer could make BJ Upton even more expendable. Robinson Chirinos is a player I like. He has an AMAZING walk rate and owned the upper minors last season. Yes, he is 27. Very old for the minors and that is why he is not ranked as a top Cubs prospect. But he was converted to catcher just two years ago. Yet he is already the Cubs best defensive catcher in the minors. If he can provide sound defense and get on base, he could very be the Rays starting catcher at some point this season and contribute. They also get Sam Fulds but who cares?

So, for three years of an okay pitcher (who they won’t miss- David Price, James Shields, and Jeremy Hellickson are better for sure. Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis are good as well and Matt Moore is still in the minors…) the Rays get a team’s #1 prospect and possible future closer, future shortstop, future outfielder, and future/current catcher. That’s a good pitching prospect, two up the middle position players, and another good prospect. I am not going to call this a heist, especially since we don’t know the PTBNL, but I like this deal for Tampa- a lot. They can sell an over-hyped Garza for a lot of prospects who they can use to cover the value Garza provides and then some. I mean, lets call Chris Archer a top 50 or so pitching prospect. That’s $15mil of value right there. Garza only provides $5mil, remember? Then you have to factor in the other prospects…

However, this trade doesn’t totally stink for Chicago. They already have a dominant closer in Carlos Marmol. Lee is blocked at short because of Starlin Castro, so Lee is not as valuable to Chicago as he is to Tampa. But still, you’d think they would have drawn the line somewhere.


UPDATE: Fernando Perez is the outfielder going to Chicago. This doesn’t change my opinion much. A couple years ago I thought he might have been a decent player, but that ship has sailed.

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