Posted on: February 3, 2012 10:37 am
Edited on: February 3, 2012 10:58 am
Matt Garza and the Cubs avoided arbitration Friday morning by settling on a contract that will pay him $9.5 million and also includes performance bonuses.
Next question: Who will pay him that $9.5 million?
Garza has been the subject of trade talks for much of the winter, and some people who speak regularly with Cubs management believe that the team will continue shopping him in spring training. There could be a lively market for starting pitching in March, with the Yankees, Nationals and Rays all going into spring with more than five starters, and with the White Sox still believed to be open to moving Gavin Floyd, as well.
Garza's settlement wouldn't figure to hurt the Cubs' chances of moving him. The pitcher had asked for $12.5 million, while the Cubs filed at $7.95 million. The settlement is below the $10.225 million midpoint, but the bonuses could raise it above that.
The Red Sox have been one of the teams most interested in adding a starting pitcher, but they've also been insisting that they don't have much money in their budget. They reportedly offered Edwin Jackson only $5-6 million, and he signed with the Nationals for twice that.
The 28-year-old Garza had a good first year with the Cubs, with 198 innings pitched and a 3.32 ERA. He had a 10-10 record that can be attributed more to the team's ineptitude than to how he pitched.
Former Cubs general manager Jim Hendry gave up a lot of talent to get Garza from the Rays last winter, but Epstein's clear plan has been to completely rebuild, and Garza may fit in best by bringing a nice return on the trade market.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 1:30 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 12:52 pm
Among teams and agents with starting pitching for sale, there was some hope that the Yu Darvish decision would spur movement in a market that has been slow to develop.
That could still happen. But for now, there is still so much pitching available that it's hard to understand why any team would feel the need to panic.
The free-agent market still offers Hiroki Kuroda, Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt, among others.
On the trade market, Jair Jurrjens, Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann, Wandy Rodriguez, Matt Garza and more are all believed by other teams to be available, albeit at what buyers still consider to be inflated prices. Even with Mat Latos already having gone to the Reds, John Danks signing an extension with the White Sox and Gio Gonzalez gone to the Nationals, it's a long list (and others such as the Mets' Jon Niese are also out there, along with longer-shot names like James Shields).
Compare that to last July 31, when the Tigers were able to trade for Doug Fister and the Indians got Ubaldo Jimenez, but many teams trying to deal for pitching found no one of real value available.
Now, the question is the high cost in prospects, at least based on what the Padres and A's got for Latos and Gonzalez. Meanwhile, the Red Sox, Marlins, Blue Jays, Royals, Tigers, Mariners, Yankees, Rockies, Orioles and others are hoping to add at least one more starter this winter.
And the market is still so fluid that one person who talked to the Red Sox this week reported back that they are "in on everybody."
In part because so many pitchers are still available, many rival officials continue to think that the Padres did very well in what they got from the Reds for Latos, who is young (24), cheap (not even arbitration-eligible yet), controllable (can't be a free agent until 2016) and talented, but also is regarded as having questionable makeup.
The Reds would no doubt argue that the price for any top pitching remains high, and for now it does.
The question is where the market goes from here, particularly with so many pitchers available.
Posted on: April 14, 2011 9:49 pm
Edited on: April 14, 2011 9:53 pm
Remember last winter, when the Rangers were going to sign Cliff Lee, or trade for Zack Greinke or Matt Garza?
Remember this spring, when the Rangers began spring training with just two spots set in their starting rotation?
Remember the end of spring training, when Tommy Hunter's injury left a hole in the Ranger rotation?
Well, forget it. All of it.
Forget that anyone was ever concerned that the Rangers wouldn't be able to pitch enough to support their great offense.
While the Yankees worry about Phil Hughes and the Red Sox worry about Daisuke Matsuzaka, this is what the Rangers have gotten from the back end of their rotation: six starts, six wins, and a 1.15 ERA.
Red Sox people raved about Matt Harrison after he shut down the Sox in his first start. Orioles people raved about Derek Holland after he held the O's scoreless in his second start. And in two starts, Alexi Ogando has yet to allow a run to anyone.
"The way they've been throwing, they don't need anyone [else]," Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis said.
"I don't think people realize the depth they have in pitching," O's manager (and one-time Rangers manager) Buck Showalter said. "They've covered the what-ifs very well."
The Rangers visit the Yankees this weekend for the first time since last year's American League Championship Series, and they won't start any of the four starters they used in the ALCS. Instead, it'll be Harrison, Holland and Ogando.
And that's not bad.
On to 3 to watch:
1. Remember, Troy Tulowitzki is a notorious slow starter. In his first four full big-league seasons, he hit seven April home runs. That's seven in four years. Now he has seven home runs and 14 RBI, with 14 April games still remaining on the Rockies schedule. The next six of those will be home games, starting with Cubs at Rockies, Friday night (8:40 ET) at Coors Field. For his career, Tulowitzki has a .926 OPS at Coors, vs. .804 on the road, but this year he has five homers in his first seven road games. One more Tulowitzki fact to think about: Over his last 41 games, dating back to last Sept. 2 (basically one-quarter of a season), he has 22 home runs and 54 RBI.
2. Things have been so bad in Boston that the Red Sox welcomed a Wednesday rainout that basically gave them back-to-back days off. "I don't think that will hurt one bit," manager Terry Francona told reporters. So it'll be interesting to see how the Sox react this weekend against the Blue Jays. It'll be even more interesting to see whether Josh Beckett follows up on his strong start last Sunday against the Yankees, when he starts in Blue Jays at Red Sox, Saturday afternoon (1:05 ET) at Fenway Park. Beckett wasn't good against many teams last year, but he hasn't beaten the Jays in six starts since 2007, going 0-3 with an 11.85 ERA.
3. Of all the new Rangers starters, Ogando is the most interesting, and not just because he has yet to allow a run (and, in two starts, has allowed just a .298 opponents OPS). Ogando is the guy who replaced Hunter in the rotation at the end of spring training. He's also the guy who signed with the A's as an outfielder, got caught up in a visa fraud and couldn't get out of the Dominican Republic for five years, was converted to a pitcher by the Rangers, and got to the big leagues last year. Now he's in the rotation, maybe to stay. Some Rangers officials see a 2012 rotation that includes both Ogando and Neftali Feliz, who for this year remains the Rangers' closer. Ogando faces CC Sabathia in Rangers at Yankees, Sunday night (8:05 ET) at Yankee Stadium.
Posted on: January 7, 2011 11:37 am
Edited on: January 8, 2011 6:02 pm
Three big pitchers have changed teams this winter. Two of them have landed in the National League Central.
The price for Garza was high in terms of prospects, and that's why trading him suits the Rays in an offseason where they've already lost Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and their entire bullpen. The Rays need to build towards the next time they can seriously challenge the Red Sox and Yankees in the American League East, and that time is unlikely to be 2011.
The Cubs have been searching all winter for a top starting pitcher, but there just haven't been many available. Cliff Lee left the Rangers to sign with the Phillies, and Greinke was traded from the Royals to the Brewers, but there wasn't much else there.
Cubs GM Jim Hendry said as much in the Cubs' press release announcing the deal.
"It's not every day a premier and proven big-game pitcher entering his prime becomes available," Hendry said. "It is impossible to acquire a pitcher of Matt's caliber and not give up some quality talent."
Baseball America recently ranked Archer, a 22-year-old right-hander, as the top prospect in the Cubs system, comparing him to ex-Rays right-hander Edwin Jackson. The newspaper also ranked Lee fourth and Guyer 10th.
At his best, the 27-year-old Garza can be one of the top pitchers in the game. His Game 7 win over the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series sent the Rays to the World Series and earned him ALCS Most Valuable Player honors. Then, in 2010, Garza pitched the only no-hitter in Rays history.
Posted on: December 7, 2010 7:10 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2010 7:24 pm
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Much of the buzz around the lobby at the Winter Meetings still has Cliff Lee likely headed to the Yankees.
Rangers president Nolan Ryan doesn't agree.
Ryan said Tuesday that he's increasingly optimistic that Lee will re-sign with the Rangers.
"I'd like to think that the longer the process goes, and the less news you hear about it, the more encouraged I am," Ryan said. "There's not any earthshaking news that has come out that concerns me. We don't have anything definitive by any means, but I think they have targeted one or two places, and I think they have a feel of where it's going."
The Nationals met with Lee's agent on Tuesday, and SI.com's Jon Heyman reported Tuesday night that Lee has two seven-year offers (with the suggestion that neither was from the Yankees or Rangers). But Ryan said he doubts Lee would go to a non-contending team, which probably leaves the Yankees and Rangers as the two possible destinations.
"He wants to be on a winner," Ryan said. "He wants to play with someone who is going to be competitive year-in, year-out. Obviously, that eliminates some organizations."
Despite his optimism, Ryan admitted that the Rangers have worked on backup plans, and he suggested that they would still prioritize starting pitching, probably in a trade (with Zack Greinke almost certainly the Plan B, and Matt Garza possibly the Plan C). Ryan basically ruled out any chance the Rangers would try to sign Carl Crawford, and came close to ruling out a run at Adrian Beltre, as well.
Ryan did admit that the Rangers have listened to trade offers for third baseman Michael Young, but it seems unlikely that Texas will move Young.
"People have asked," Ryan said.
Other people in the Rangers organization have expressed confidence this week that all things being equal, Lee prefers the Rangers over any other team.
Posted on: August 20, 2010 1:57 am
Edited on: August 20, 2010 9:09 pm
Between them, they've managed nearly 8,000 major-league games. But do you want to guess how many games Bobby Cox and Lou Piniella have managed against each other?
It's not as many as you think. Only 81, with three more coming this weekend in Chicago -- presumably the final three, with both Cox and Piniella saying they'll retire at the end of the season.
The tally so far, according to research through baseball-reference.com , has Cox with 41 wins and Piniella with 40. They've never met in the playoffs, even though Cox went to the postseason 15 times with the Blue Jays and Braves, and Piniella made it to October seven times with the Reds, Mariners and Cubs.
Cox, whose Braves lead the Phillies by 2 1/2 games in the National League East, has another chance at the postseason this year. Piniella, whose Cubs are 22 games under .500, has a chance to go home when the regular season ends on Oct. 3.
And that, of course, is why Derrek Lee agreed to leave Piniella and join Cox, approving the trade that gave the Braves their new first baseman. The trade was finalized while Lee was sitting in the Cubs dugout during their Wednesday loss to the Padres, and Lee's first game for the Braves will be Friday afternoon against the Cubs.
"I told him to go get his uniform off, he wasn't on our team anymore and I didn't want him stealing our signs," Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster joked with reporters after the game. Dempster will be the first Cubs pitcher to face Lee, as he's the starter Friday. "He started trying to bribe me and asked me how I was going to pitch certain hitters. Sneaky dog."
On to 3 to watch:
1. According to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News , the Giants sent playoff ticket invoices to their season ticket holders this week. As Baggarly said, incredibly bad timing, with the Giants falling six games behind the Padres in the National League West, and dropping out of the wild-card lead, as well. It doesn't help that ace Tim Lincecum has been pitching poorly, and it may not help Lincecum that his next start comes against Chris Carpenter, in Giants at Cardinals, Saturday night (7:15 ET) at Busch Stadium . A year ago, Lincecum against Carpenter would have been a Cy Young elimination battle. Now, with the Cards falling 3 1/2 games behind the Reds in the NL Central, it looks more like a wild-card elimination battle.
2. The Braves have the worst road record (27-33) of any team that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. With the Phillies getting healthy and hot, that may need to change if Cox is going to get that going-away postseason gift. This weekend against the struggling Cubs would be a good place to start. We'll know by the time Mike Minor faces Randy Wells, in Braves at Cubs, Sunday afternoon (2:20 ET) at Wrigley Field .
3. No matter how good or bad the teams out West are, East Coast teams always seem to fear West Coast trips, especially late in the season. Sure enough, the Rays lost the first game of their current seven-game trip to the coast, falling to the A's, 4-3, on Thursday night. The Rays are actually 6-4 on the Coast this season, but they're 16-19 since the start of 2008 (basically, since they've been good). The big game this weekend is the matchup of Dallas Braden and Matt Garza, in Rays at A's, Sunday afternoon (4:07 ET) at the Coliseum , in a matchup of two of the five pitchers who have thrown no-hitters this season.
Posted on: July 30, 2010 11:04 am
Aren't top starting pitchers supposed to be hard to find? Don't you need to develop your own, because you'll never be able to trade for one?
This July, they're everywhere.
Well, not everywhere, but the Rangers (Cliff Lee), Angels (Dan Haren) and Phillies (Roy Oswalt) were each able to trade for a starting pitcher whose was a multiple-time All-Star. Two of the three (Lee and Oswalt) have been 20-game winners. All three have received Cy Young votes.
There have been other trades made this month. There will be more trades made before Saturday's 4 p.m. EDT deadline for making deals without waivers.
But we can already say that this will be the July of the ace pitcher.
The Phillies won't be surprised. They've made five in-season trades for starting pitchers in as many years. They've made two trades for All-Star pitchers named Roy in just the last eight months.
Three of the four starters in their likely postseason rotation (if they get there) were acquired in trades.
Trading for Joe Blanton two years ago helped the Phillies win the World Series. Trading for Lee last year got the Phillies back to the World Series.
Now they have Oswalt, to slot in behind Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels in a top of the rotation that could be the best in the game.
Other teams will deal for starting pitchers this month. The White Sox were trying to get Edwin Jackson Friday morning. The Dodgers were reportedly talking about Ted Lilly. Jake Westbrook and Jeremy Guthrie are still out there.
There are some hitters still available, most notably Adam Dunn and Lance Berkman.
But this will be known as the July of the ace, the July of Lee, Haren and Oswalt.
On to 3 to watch:
1. Halladay made his Phillies debut with an 11-1 win on opening day in Washington. Now Oswalt goes to the same spot for his Phils debut, in Phillies at Nationals, Friday night (7:05 ET) at Nationals Park . The Nats won't have Stephen Strasburg to help them sell tickets this weekend, but all that means is that there will be more available for the army of fans traveling down from Philly. One thing they might not want to know: Oswalt is winless in his last seven starts against the Nats, last winning in 2005 at RFK Stadium.
2. It's probably the pennant race more than the possibility of a 600th home run, but Tropicana Field is sold out for all three games this weekend. It will be the first time that the Rays have sold out three consecutive regular-season games. One attraction is Matt Garza, whose first start since his no-hitter comes in Yankees at Rays, Saturday night (7:05 ET) at Tropicana Field .
3. What the Padres have done so far this year is impressive, but the National League West race still seems wide open. One scout familiar with the division predicted this week that the Giants have the best chance of winning it. It sure would help if they added a hitter. By the time they see Clayton Kershaw, in Dodgers at Giants, Sunday night (8:05 ET) at AT&T Park , we'll know whether they have.
Posted on: July 27, 2010 2:07 pm
Teams that have spoken to the Nationals about Adam Dunn believe there's a good chance Dunn will be traded by the end of the week.
They also think that the price Nats GM Mike Rizzo is asking for Dunn right now is ridiculously high. Rizzo has been telling teams that to trade Dunn, he would need to get a young starting pitcher who is either major-league ready or close to it.
How ready? Well, according to a source familiar with the talks, last week the Nationals asked the Rays for Matt Garza.
Obviously, that wasn't happening, even before Garza threw the first no-hitter in Rays history on Monday night against the Tigers.
While there's no way for them to know for sure, rival teams believe that Rizzo plans to move Dunn, who is in the last year of his contract. Because of that, they believe that Rizzo's asking price will eventually drop, and that a deal will get done.
The Rays and White Sox have shown interest in Dunn, but a scout from another American League team said he thinks it would be a mistake for an AL team to trade for him. Dunn has said many times that he has no interest in being a designated hitter, and the scout believes that Dunn wouldn't be happy with an AL team.
The Giants, who have also checked on Dunn, would seem to be a better fit. But Giants GM Brian Sabean has been reluctant to move any of his best pitchers, and it's hard to believe he would include them in a move for a rental player like Dunn.
In other trade talk Tuesday, opposing teams increasingly believe that the Phillies want to move Jayson Werth. The asking price for Werth has been similar to what Washington wants for Dunn: a young starting pitcher. Werth will also be a free agent this winter, and while there's believed to be little chance he'll re-sign with the Phillies, one scout said: "He should never leave that ballpark." . . . Other teams still don't count out the Phillies in the Roy Oswalt sweepstakes, even though it's well-known that Oswalt would prefer to be dealt to St. Louis, Atlanta or Texas. The Cardinals have interest, but some people who know Astros owner Drayton McLane don't believe he would send Oswalt to the Cards -- or to the Rangers. And the Braves have not shown interest.