Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Why Garza could finish '13 with Cubs
By Jason A. Churchill
Matt Garza was one of the more oft-mentioned names on the trade block last season until a stress reaction in his elbow ended his year after just 18 starts. It's been assumed, to an extent, that once Garza shows the league he's healthy again -- likely 2-3 months into 2013 -- he'll again hit the trade block. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes why that may not be the case.
Wittenmyer's lede says it all: "Anybody who still is wondering whether right-hander Matt Garza has a prayer of being a Cub after this season should take a look at Kyle Lohse." We've discussed Lohse regularly here at Rumor Central because he's among the very few high-profile free agents remaining, and one of the likely factors in that is what could prompt the Cubs to keep Garza through the end of the year.
Lohse was tendered a qualifying offer of more than $13 million by the St. Louis Cardinals, which means the club will receive draft-pick compensation if and when he signs with another team. So far, teams are unwilling to give Lohse the contract he wants, but sacrificing a first-round draft pick is also an obstacle for some front offices. It certainly was in the New York Mets' considerations for Michael Bourn, and may be why the Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Mets and Baltimore Orioles have stayed away.
The Cubs will weigh such scenarios when fielding offers for Garza this coming summer.
Wittenmyer: "The best pitcher from the St. Louis Cardinals’ playoff team in 2012 remains jobless because of an ill-conceived change in draft-compensation rules for free agents that went into effect this winter."
The draft-pick compensation rule is not new this year. The actual rule change with the new CBA regarding free-agent compensation is that in order for a team to get that compensation, the player must start and end the season with the same team. Zack Greinke went from Milwaukee to the Angels last July, meaning neither club collected a draft pick when the right-hander signed with the Dodgers this offseason. The Braves, however, will receive compensation for losing Bourn to the Indians, because he remained with the club the entire year.
Lohse is not jobless at present solely because of the compensation attached, and the new rule -- that he had to spend the entire season with one team for that team to qualify for compensation -- has almost zero impact. I say almost zero because if that team wasn't the pitching rich Cardinals, Lohse may have been re-signed by the team with which he ended 2012. Otherwise, however, it has no impact at all.
Garza, in the end, may prefer to be traded, so the compensation issue does not affect his free agency, but I see no scenario where a healthy Garza returns to Chicago on a one-year deal. A multi-year contract is certainly plausible, but if The 30-year-old continues to have elbow issues, that will be his biggest problem as a free agent pitcher next winter.
Wittenmyer makes a good point on Garza's potential continued presence in the Cubs rotation beyond 2013, writing that "it might nudge the Cubs’ rebuilding timeline up from the 2015 projections."