According to Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago, the Rays and Cubs have completed an eight player trade that results in pitcher Matt Garza being shipped to the north side of Chicago.
From the Rays perspective, I love the trade. While Garza (15-10, 3.91 ERA) may’ve appeared like he was finally harnessing his ace-potential, there is reason to believe his 2010 performance was a mirage. His strikeout rate plummeted, while his contact rate jumped. His ERA outperformed his FIP by half of a run. He continued to exhibit greater flyball tendencies, which will likely lead to more home runs in the future. Could he turn these indicators around? Sure, he’s only 27. But why take the risk when you have a surplus of young pitching? Jeremy Hellickson has ace quality stuff, and should have no problem taking Garza’s spot in the rotation. Top prospect LHP Matt Moore should be ready by mid to late-2011 should they need re-enforcements down the stretch. Rays GM Andrew Friedman is selling high, which is exactly what he should do.
In exchange for Garza, they’ll receive five prospects: RHP Chris Archer, OF Brandon Guyer, and SS Hak-Ju Lee, OF Sam Fuld, and C Robinson Chirinos. Archer appears to be the gem of the deal. According to Baseball America, he has two plus-plus pitches, which includes a fastball that touches 96-97 and a slider that dives out of the zone. His control (4.1 BB/9 rate between high-A and AA ball in 2010) isn’t tremendous, but he’s only 21. Should he harness his control, I don’t see any reason why he won’t end up being a solid number two quality starter in the major leagues. Guyer and Lee both project to be solid major league players, having been given a solid “B” grade from John Sickels of minorleaguebaseball.com.
From the Cubs perspective, I don’t really get it. Then again, Jim Hendry is their General Manager, so most of his moves are down right confusing. In the short-term, it kind of makes sense. They do need starting pitching, but there are better, more efficient ways of fulfilling your team’s needs. This was the kind of trade a legitimate playoff contender makes. The Cubs are not a legitimate playoff contender. They’re an old team on the decline with a bloated $144M payroll. If anything, they should be doing everything in their power to shed payroll and rebuild their already weak farm system—not trade away three of their top ten prospects. It’s bad business.
There are probably thousands (if not millions) of Cubs fans rejoicing at the news of their team acquiring Garza, but I’m not really sure why. This move gets the Cubs further away (not closer) from the elusive World Series championship they crave. In reality, Cubs fans should be calling for Hendry’s ouster.