Should the Red Sox Try & Acquire Matt Garza?


For weeks I’ve been saying that the best solution to fill the Red Sox gaping holes in their starting rotation is through free agency.  But now reports have surfaced that Chicago Cubs starter Matt Garza is available through the trade market and that may change things.

With Theo Epstein now firmly entrenched in the daily grind of the Cubs organization, Garza is a name that is appearing more frequently in the rumor mill.  Epstein has said he will listen to offers on anyone within the Cubs system, focusing more on unloading some of the fat salaries.  While Garza doesn’t necessarily represent an overpaid, under producing player, he does poise one of the greatest opportunities for Epstein to restock his prospects cupboard.

So should the Red Sox try and land the former Tampa Bay Ray stud pitcher who for years ran rough shod over the Red Sox?  I reached out to Jordan Campbell, senior editor on the Fansided, Cubbies Crib and got some insight as to how he sees the Garza situation playing out.  

Former Cubs GM, Jim Hendry unloaded a boat load of prospects in order to acquire Garza last winter.  It was a move that really decimated the Cubs prospect list.  Now it’s up to Epstein to try and restore that list and even the boy wonder knows that in order to win a World Series, the best building blocks come from within.

We know the asking price for Garza will be steep and as Campbell points out it isn’t any one player at this point that the Cubs have a focus on getting in return.  Rather it comes to raw talent.

“There are no specifics that the Cubs are looking for, just as long as they acquire talented prospects for any player that they trade. As an organization, the depth is weak at the catching, first base, third base, and starting pitching positions. So those are four positions that Epstein and company would target in any trade that they make.”

Interesting that Campbell make the comment about first and third base being a hole for the Cubs.  When I asked him about the possibility of a package that included Kevin Youkilis, he was quick to shoot that down.

“I personally do not see a Youkilis for Garza trade happening. Reason being that Youkilis does not fit into the Cubs’ plan at this moment. Epstein has spoke highly of career minor leaguer Bryan LaHair, and that has increased the belief that LaHair is on the inside track to become the Cubs’ starting first baseman in 2012. And for the third base position, if not traded, third base prospect Josh Vitters is inching closer to being ready for the major leagues.”

So it appears that a prospect filled offer will be what it takes to even get Epstein and company to seriously consider moving Garza.

But keep this in mind.  The Red Sox have yet to receive any compensation from the Cubs for Epstein’s relocation to the Windy City.  When Boston first asked for Garza straight up for Epstein they were swiftly denied that possibility.  With the winter meetings set to get under way next week in Dallas, TX, both Epstein and his posse will be in the same room as Cherington and his entourage.

It’s already been said that the Epstein compensation will likely be determined around the winter meetings, so as Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe points out, send Garza to Boston for a couple of prospects and call the Theo compensation complete.

Abraham goes on to mention two prospects that he could see potentially involved in the deal and they are Anthony Ranaudo and Kolbrin Vitek.  This would make sense for the Red Sox.  They aren’t giving up any of the top end, soon to be major leaguers in Will Middlebrooks, Jose Iglesias or Ryan Lavarnway, so a return of Garza would definetly be worth it.

Picture this for a starting rotation; Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Matt Garza and a fifth starter to be determined later.  Not to shabby is it?

As Campbell points out though, the Red Sox will be in tough as he sees the Texas Rangers as a team severely interested in Garza.

“The talk around Chicago is that the Texas Rangers are going to make the biggest push for the starting pitcher. The Rangers were on the cusp of landing Garza last winter until the Cubs swept in at the last second. With C.J. Wilson looking less likely to return to Texas next season, the Rangers would seem to be the ideal front-runner.”

While Cherington may have to sweeten the pot a little in order to get Garza, you get the feeling that this deal makes sense.  He’s only 28-years old and he’s quickly becoming a guy who could lead any pitching staff.

Last season Garza went 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA.  These numbers don’t accurately represent Garza when you consider how poorly the Cubs did last season.  He did strike out an average of nine batters per nine innings and surrendered a career low average of 0.6 home runs per nine innings.  While these numbers are all fine and dandy and give us something to talk about, it’s the numbers that Abraham highlights that make a Red Sox fan drool; his career numbers against the AL East teams:

– versus the Yankees: 4.48 ERA, 1.40 WHIP in 12 games

– versus the Orioles:  3.03 ERA, 1.19 WHIP in 12 games

– versus the Blue Jays: 2.14 ERA, 1.19 WHIP in 13 games

Garza’s salary is within reason at this point of his career.  He’s scheduled to make around $9 million next year and is under the team’s control for 2013.  While some may say this is another high priced contract the Red Sox need to stay away from, consider what they’d pay for Mark Buehrle on the open market.

Edwin Jackson will likely receive a similar amount to Garza this winter, so when you compare what Garza has done to that of Jackson’s, I’m taking Garza.

When you consider that the Sox are owed something for Epstein, a couple of prospects for Garza and we’ll call it even, this is a deal that most Red Sox fans should want.

But Campbell doesn’t necessarily see Garza being traded.

“The belief is that the Cubs are going to listen on Garza, and if a team blows them away–like they did to the Rays last winter–they will pull the trigger on the trade.”

“I have a hard time believing Garza will be traded, considering the Cubs’ starting rotation is already a weak-point.  “I expect Garza to be with the Cubs on Opening Day 2012.”

So let the discussion begin.  Should the Red Sox make a serious push for Matt Garza?  It looks as though they’ll need one hell of an offer to get him.

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