Monday, July 1, 2013
Five trades for Matt Garza
By Jim Bowden
Matt Garza has regained his All-Star form as well as his trade value.
Chicago Cubs right-hander Matt Garza might end up being the best starting pitcher dealt at baseball’s July 31 trade deadline.
After beginning the season on the disabled list, Garza has returned to form as a top-of-the-rotation difference-maker. In his past three starts, he’s gone at least seven innings and given up less than a run per game with 23 strikeouts. It’s clear his stuff is all the way back and his command and control is phenomenal. As such so is his trade value.
The Cubs’ front office is concentrating on fixing its pitching in the long-term, and that’s what they’ll focus on in any trade talks for Garza. The preference will be acquiring young starting pitching which is either close to the big leagues or major league ready.
The Cubs match up well with the Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies, as all can offer them major league-ready pitching either in the rotation or the bullpen. Garza’s injury history makes him somewhat of a risk, and perhaps that will temper some the return on Garza the Cubs are hoping for. So here are five trades the Cubs could realistically make for Garza:
The Indians don’t have any young starting pitching to surrender for a rental such as Garza, but they might be willing to sacrifice a significant bullpen arm if they can make a major acquisition for the pennant race. Allen’s velocity is now up to 94-97 mph and his hard 84 mph slider is nasty, with curveball-type tilt. Allen, 24, is striking out more than 10 per nine innings and could replace Kevin Gregg as the Cubs’ closer if Gregg is dealt as expected at the deadline, as well. Baker would be a solid throw-in for the Cubs. Baker was the Indians’ fifth-round draft pick in 2012 and currently has a 3.63 ERA in low Class A. He throws in the mid-90s with a hard slider that doesn’t break much and looks more like a cutter.
It would be difficult for the Rangers to part with Ross, who’s been an integral part of the Rangers’ bullpen the past two years. However, Garza would be a solid No. 2 starter between ace Yu Darvish and No. 3 Derek Holland and would greatly improve their chances of winning the AL West and advancing in the playoffs.
The Cubs, on the other hand, could put Ross into the rotation -- he started in the minors -- and since he’s not eligible for salary arbitration until 2015, he would fit nicely in their long-term plans. Robinson would be a solid throw-in. He can play second or third and has some gap-to-gap power.
Erlin originally was drafted in the third round by the Rangers in 2009. He was included in a 2011 trade deadline deal for setup man Mike Adams, who was one of the best in the business at the time. Erlin had a 5.25 ERA in 12 Triple-A starts this season, but has pitched very well since being promoted to the majors, posting a 3.60 ERA with 12 strikeouts and one walk in 15 innings. His fastball sits 88-91 mph with a slow 12-6 curveball and a solid change.
Sampson has a history of shoulder and elbow injuries but finally appears healthy. This season he has a 3.64 ERA between Double- and Triple-A with almost a strikeout per inning. He has a 90-94 mph fastball with late sink and a solid changeup.
In Fife and Magill, the Dodgers can offer the Cubs two young major league-ready starters, both of whom have had time in the majors this year. Fife’s 88-92 mph fastball highlights a solid four-pitch mix that includes a curveball, changeup and slider. His repertoire doesn’t wow scouts, but he should be a solid back-of-the-rotation starter in time.
Magill’s fastball, however, is 92-95 mph and runs in on right-handed hitters. When his slider has optimum spin, it’s a wipeout pitch. His changeup needs more work to be effective. He has had trouble with control and command at the major league level, but in time he should settle down and improve. He also could become a back-of-the-rotation starter.
Pomeranz made his 2013 major league debut Sunday against the Giants after posting a 4.20 ERA in 85 2/3 innings pitched at Triple-A Colorado Springs. He was acquired two years ago for Ubaldo Jimenez, but struggled a year ago finishing with a 4.93 ERA in his first full season with the Rockies. Scouts have told me they like Pomeranz but question if he ever will be effective at Coors Field.
As a result, Colorado might deal him to get an arm like Garza to go with Jorge De La Rosa and Jhoulys Chacin at the top of its rotation. Pomeranz would be quite a coup for the Cubs’ Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, if they could get him for Garza.
Swanner, 21, is a big-framed, slow-legged catcher with power. He profiles as a backup catcher and first baseman, but because of the power would be a nice throw-in for the Cubs.