Cubs open to trading Matt Garza

We learned awhile back that the Cubs would listen to offers on any of their players so I had really wanted to avoid writing about specific players until a credible rumor surfaced. However, Matt Garza is one of the most valuable players the Cubs have and I read elsewhere a few days ago that the Cubs are talking to other teams about him. It’s important to remember that while Garza may be the best starting pitcher the Cubs have, he’s likely not going to be the best a contending team has. Garza seems so valuable to us Cubs fans in part because he’s so damn good compared to the other starting pitchers on the staff. He did have a great 2011 and hopefully the Cubs made enough changes with him that we could expect similar production next year.

We can’t do that yet though. We have several years prior to 2011 in which Garza was good, but far from great. In order to get an idea of his value we need to look at the projections that include previous years. The average of Garza’s available projections (Bill James, CAIRO, ZiPS) is a 3.71 FIP. That’s about .4 runs worse than CC Sabathia‘s CAIRO and more than a half run worse than Justin Verlander‘s. Over 200 innings for Garza and using a 4.25 league average FIP, he would be worth 3.8 WAR next season.

He has one year left on his contract and the win value can be epected to be about $4.8 million next year. In dollars, Garza is worth $18.2 million. We’ve already estimated that Garza would be paid about $8.7 million in his last year of arbitration. That leaves a $9.5 million surplus. It’s distinctly possible with a season like this that Garza would be worth two draft picks in 2013 so that’s worth about $5 million. His overall surplus trade value is $14.5 million.

Based on this work, Garza would be worth a top 51-75 hitting prospect or just slightly less than a top 26-50 pitching prospect. Prior to 2011, Yonder Alonso was the 73rd ranked prospect in baseball. Intradivision trades are rare, but the Cubs could use a first baseman with 5 years of club control who is as good as Alonso.

Aside from Johnny Cueto the Reds rotation was terrible last year. They were even worse than the Cubs. The Reds alreay have Joey Votto who isn’t going anywhere. It would seem to me if they could acquire a guy like Garza who would at least be their second best starter then it would be a big improvement for them.


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