A while back, I opined that the Tigers should be at least looking into trading for Rays right hander Matt Garza, and no, it wasn’t just because he threw a no-hitter against them. The Tigers are said to be looking for a rotation upgrade and were reported to have been interested in Shaun Marcum before he was dealt to Milwaukee earlier this winter. My thought was, if they liked Marcum, then surely they would see the value in trying to get Garza.
The Rays have made no secret that they are open to dealing their right hander, but the Tigers haven’t been linked to him at all. With word coming down today that the Cubs are close to netting Garza from Tampa, I can see why the Tigers haven’t been active in going after him.
Chicago was rumored to be in talks with Tampa going back to last month, but within the past 24 hours, the deal has gained serious steam to the point that many national sportswriters are tweeting that the deal is close to being completed. While Chicago will be landing a useful starter, he’s no ace. But the ransom commanded by the Rays is considered a significantly larger return than the Royals got from the Brewers in the Zack Greinke deal.
The Cubs are reportedly sending their numbers one, four, ten, and 16 prospects to Tampa in exchange for Garza. That four of the top 16 in their whole system and two of the top five, including Chris Archer, their number one prospect. If you want to compare this to the Tigers system, imagine Dave Dombrowski agreeing to trade Jacob Turner, Daniel Schlereth, Casper Wells, and Adam Wilk. If he were to do that, the return had better be far greater than Matt freaking Garza.
There’s really no other way to slice it, this is a desperate move by Cubs GM Jim Hendry. But the sad truth is that even with Garza, the Cubs likely won’t be better than St. Louis, Cincinnati, or Milwaukee in 2011. You only agree to trade that much of your farm system if you are getting a player like Felix Hernandez, or if your club is very close to being World Series caliber, but in need of a good number two starter to seal the deal. In this trade, Hendry is not getting a Cy Young winner and his club will be no closer to winning a title next year.
What’s worse, by gutting the farm system this way, Hendry is actually crippling the franchise for years to come in order to get a player that really no better than a handful of pitchers who would have been available at the trade deadline for half the price.
So the Tigers move on with Garza appearing to be off the board, at this point I assume their talks with Tampa would have ended after one phone call. Garza represented the last best chance to trade for a front-end starter, not an ace but still no worse than a number three guy.
Reports circulated yesterday that Detroit is still in pursuit of free agent right hander Brad Penny, whom is capable of being better than Garza anyhow, but is a significant injury risk. Penny, should he sign in Detroit, would represent the biggest competition to Armando Galarraga for the final rotation spot. If he’s healthy, Penny could be an excellent number five starter.