Now that the MLB Draft is over teams will really start to focus on their plans for the trade deadline. The first major rumor for the Yankees this year was that they are interested in Chicago Cubs pitcher Matt Garza. Garza is a familiar name after pitching 3 years for the Rays. Garza had a breakout season last year, but has struggled this season going 2-4, with a 3.99 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 8.4 K/9. Garza may be the best pitcher on the market this year, but may be one the Yankees would be wise to avoid.
It may too early to write this article since a lot can happen between now and the trading deadline. You do not know who will be pitching well or who will be injured. However, if the deadline was today I would avoid Garza and probably would avoid him on the real trade deadline as well. The recent surge of the Yankees has been led by the starting pitching. C.C. Sabathia has not been quite as dominant as he usually is, but he is nobody to worry about. Andy Pettitte has been the ultimate stabilizing force for the rotation. Even the most optimistic Yankees fan could not have predicted how dominant he has been. Hiroki Kuroda has not gotten enough credit for the job he has done. Kuroda is 5-6 on the year, with a 3.46 ERA, and a 1.25 WHIP. Also, he has allowed 3 runs or less in 9 out of his 12 starts. Kuroda is a solid #3 starter even in the AL East. Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova are wild cards, but have shown signs that they are ready to pitch to their talent level. Hughes has allowed 2 runs or less in 4 of his last 5 starts. Nova showed what he can do last season and fired a gem Wednesday against the Rays, so maybe that will get him back on track. The 2009 Yankees won the World Series with C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte as their 2 best pitchers, so they proved that they can win with that combo already. I am confident that Kuroda, Hughes, or Nova are all capable of being a solid # 3 pitcher and that one of them will step up.
Matt Garza is not an ace pitcher, but Theo Epstein may try to sell him as one. The Cubs are in desperate need of young players and will try to get a haul for Garza. They overpaid for Garza to begin with and will want to recoup that talent. Garza was outstanding last season going 10-10, with a 3.32 ERA, a 2.25 WHIP, a 2.95 FIP, and 9.0 K/9. However, that season is an anomaly when you compare it to his career stats and it’s not a coincidence that his breakout season came in his first season in the NL. Garza was a nice #3 pitcher for the Rays in the AL East, but was never a #1 or 2, as he averaged a 3.85 ERA over his 3 years in Tampa. Garza also struck out less people in Tampa than in Chicago, as he struck only 7.01 batters per 9 innings. In addition to that Garza’s FIP was only 4.24 in Tampa. Another warning sign to me is that this would be the third time in his career that Garza would be traded. The Twins, Rays, and now perhaps the Cubs felt he was expendable so why should the Yankees pay a big package for him? Very few great players get traded 3 times in a career. Maybe it was because he was with two small market teams who wanted to get something for him, but it may not be a coincidence that the Twins and Rays traded him.
A lot of the improvements Garza made last season have not been there this season. This combined with only 1 stellar season in the NL leads me to believe he is only a #3 pitcher in the AL East. The Yankees may need to trade for a starter at the deadline and Garza may very well be the best one available, but that does not mean they should target him. Trading is about value and I have a feeling Theo Epstein wants a lot more than what Garza is worth. The Yankees could probably trade for somebody for less who would do almost as well, or just stick with what they have. I don’t think Kuroda is much worse than Garza if he is worse at all. The Yankees farm system has taken a slight hit this year so they really can’t afford to give away any big pieces in the wrong deal. The Yankees should not be buying Matt Garza as a pitcher who will put them over the top.