Matt Garza Update

It’s been a few days since we had a post about Matt Garza and since we’re rebranding as the Matt Garza Blog we figured it was time for an update. Jon Heyman says that there is no leader in the trade talks.

There is “no real favorite” in the five-team Matt Garza sweepstakes, according to someone familiar with the talks.

The teams involved the derby for the 28-year-old Cubs righthander at this point are the Yankees, Blue Jays, Tigers, Red Sox and Marlins. With the Cubs seeking young pitchers, it would seem that the Yankees, Blue Jays and Tigers could hold an edge ultimately. The Yankees have Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, the Tigers Jacob Turner and the Blue Jays several well-regarded prospects at the lower levels. The Cubs are hoping to improve their young pitching stock, and Garza is the most marketable player they’re willing to deal.

Jacob-TurnerWith Jacob Turner available, I’m not sure this is really a tough decision on the Cubs part. Sure, they should try to get as much as possible, but a Turner for Garza straight up trade is more than beneficial to the Cubs. The Detroit News is suggesting it’s not just Turner in the deal.

The Tigers absolutely would be required to include more than Turner in any trade package for Garza. But it is believed multiple prospects, apart from Castellanos, are being offered as the Tigers talk with new Cubs general manager Theo Epstein.

Prior to the 2011 season, this is what Baseball America had to say about Turner (ranked 1 in the Tigers organization and 21st in baseball):

Scouting Report: Turner has the ideal frame for a power pitcher. He throws both two- and four-seam fastballs, sitting at 92-94 mph and peaking at 96. In addition to its easily above-average velocity, Turner’s fastball also has heavy sink. While Turner was polished for a prep pitcher, he was able to carve up high school lineups by simply blowing his heater by hitters, so entered pro ball with secondary pitches that needed refinement. He made strides with both his curveball and changeup in 2010. He throws a 12-6 curve that can get a little short but also shows glimpses of being an upper-70s hammer. His changeup should become at least a solid third pitch, with a chance to be better. Turner throws strikes but will need to sharpen his command within the strike zone as he climbs the ladder. Doing so shouldn’t be a problem because he’s a good athlete with a strong work ethic and relatively clean mechanics, though his delivery could use a little more fluidity. Turner shows terrific savvy and mound presence for his age, mixing his pitches well and rarely gets rattled. He has the swagger scouts want to see in a pitcher projected for the front of a major league rotation. He still has to add the strength to take the ball every fifth day and work deeper into games. He averaged fewer than five innings per start in 2010 and has never pitched in the 7th inning.

Turner earned a cup of coffee last season. I know some have been concerned about his strikeout rate (7.7 per 9), but keep in mind how young Turner is. He’s only 20 years old. He kind of reminds me of Madison Bumgarner. His K/9 in the minors was 8.0, but in the high minors in 2009 and 2010 it was about 6.1 per 9. He was also only 20 years old and the 14th ranked prospect in all of baseball. Bumgarner’s first full season in the big leagues was in 2011 at the age of 21. He struckout 8.4 per 9.

Bumgarner also had terrific control in the minors. He walked only 1.9 per 9 and it’s just over 2 in the big leagues so far. Like Bumgarner, Turner has had very good control, walking only 2.1 per 9 innings. I’m not at all concerned about Turner’s strikeout rate. As with all things minor leagues, age is the most important factor. If he was 24 years old I’d be concerned, but he can’t even legally drink yet.

If the Cubs acquired Turner he would be the top prospect in the Cubs organization. I’m very surprised the Tigers would consider trading him for Garza. If the Cubs really have the opportunity to acquire him they should.