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The Cubs get Matt Garza in an eight-player deal

Jan 7, 2011, 11:51 AM EDT

Matt Garza throwing

UPDATE:  Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago says the deal is done: eight players are involved in the deal that sends Matt Garza from Tampa Bay to the Cubs.

Specifically: the Rays will get pitching prospect Chris Archer — the Cubs’ number one prospect — outfielder Brandon Guyer, catcher Robinson Chirinos, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee and outfielder Sam Fuld. In addition to Garza, the Cubs will get a minor-league pitcher and a minor-league outfielder.

This is a big, big deal. Mostly for the Rays, who have added multiple top prospects to an already-stocked minor league system.  While Garza is a fine pitcher, he’s not that fine.  And the Rays aren’t going to miss much of a beat anyway, what with Jeremy Hellickson taking his spot in the rotation.

For the Cubs this is a head-scratcher. They need pitching, but their payroll is bloated and their farm system thin.  At some point they’re going to need to integrate some cheap talent into that mix, and they just gave away a lot of it for a good but by no means great pitcher.

This is a win for the Rays. It may mean a short term improvement for the Cubs, but I don’t like this deal for them.

10:52 AMBruce Miles reports that the Cubs are nearing a trade for Matt Garza.

We first reported that the Cubs and Rays were talking about Garza a month ago. There have been multiple on-again, off-again reports since then.  This stuff now seems like a new, more urgent push, with people in the Twitterverse who are in the know characterizing it as close to being done.

The rumored return: prospects Chris Archer, Hak-Ju Lee,Brandon Guyer and Robinson Chirinos.  Baseball America ranked Archer as the Cubs’ number 1 prospect last year, Lee as the number 4 and Guyer as number 10. Not sure on Chirinos, but I hear he has a great personality. (UPDATE:  Chirinos is the number 16 prospect)

Seems like a steep asking price for Garza.  But the Cubs are pretty desperate for some starting pitching.  We’ll update this as events unfold, of course.

  1. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Jan 7, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    Hefty price indeed.

  2. BC - Jan 7, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    I thought Chirinos was a chain restaurant in the Northwest. Great veal saltimbocca.

  3. nctaxpro - Jan 7, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    The Rays don’t *have* to trade Garza, so there’s no reason for them not to shoot for the moon here. But I think there’s actually less here than meets the eye. Guyer and Chirinos are generic C prospects, and I don’t see Lee as being significantly better than Brignac or Rodriguez.

  4. Panda Claus - Jan 7, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    Hak-Ju Lee should’ve been cast as Kato in the Green Hornet movie with a name like that.

  5. Jonny 5 - Jan 7, 2011 at 12:02 PM

    Now they’ll just flip him to NY. Wouldn’t that be something….

  6. hackerjay - Jan 7, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    The Cubs don’t have a thin farm system. On the contrary, they actually have a really deep system, just don’t have any huge guys. Their whole system is filled with B-level prospects, which is what all these guys are.
    Archer has great stuff, but his control is suspect at best. He had a breakout campaign last year, but he still walked four guys per nine innings, which does not bode well for MLB success.
    Lee has a great glove, but no power. In a perfect world he would be something like Elvis Andrus, which is playable, but Castro is better.
    Guyer and Fuld are fourth outfielders, and Robinson Chirinos is blocked.

    Garza has put up three full seasons in the AL East where he has had an above average ERA, he will be under team control for a while, and he’s only going to be 27 next season. I like the trade.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 7, 2011 at 1:39 PM

      It’s good to hear someone likes this trade for the Cubs. I was worried they gave up too much. The only guy I really liked a lot was Archer.

    • spudchukar - Jan 7, 2011 at 1:43 PM

      A whole system of B-level prospects is by definition a thin farm system!

      • Ari Collins - Jan 7, 2011 at 1:56 PM

        Not by the way most people talk about farm systems. “Deep” means that you have a large number of good prospects. “Deep” doesn’t have to mean good; you can have a good farm system even if it’s shallow, if it has a few A prospects and not too much after that. Baltimore’s system is a perfect example of this.The Cubs system isn’t a great farm system, but it was decently deep. Probably pretty shallow now, though.

        Some deep systems without any great prospects include CLE, TEX, ARI, BOS, MIN, COL, and SD. Those are all average to below-average systems, but their depth of B-level prospects means that they have good potential to end up with some A-level guys by next year.

      • hackerjay - Jan 7, 2011 at 2:09 PM

        No, a thin system is one that has very few players that are expected to make it to the majors. Even after this trade I can count at least ten guys in the Cubs system that have a good chance of having major league careers, even if none of them are stars (though I like Jackson’s chances of being an all-star).

        A thin system is one like the brewers where it’s debatable wether or not they have a single B level prospect.

      • spudchukar - Jan 7, 2011 at 2:15 PM

        B-Level minor league players become C-Level major league players. Nothing like a whole bunch of role players waiting to disappoint.

      • hackerjay - Jan 7, 2011 at 2:23 PM

        If you believe that, then you must think this trade was great, since the Cubs gave up four C-level major league players for one B+ MLBer.

        The fact of the matter is, the Cubs had a top ten minor league system, purely based on the fact that they had a ton of guys that were projected to become major league players. The whole point of having a minor league system is to put players on the major league team. It doesn’t really matter if you do that by bringing your minor league players up, or if you trade them for major league players. nine times out of ten, I’ll take the certainty of a major league player over the uncertainty of high ceiling, but unrefined minor league players.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 7, 2011 at 2:25 PM

        For the next few years, we’re not going to have any idea how good or bad this deal was. It’s rare a prospect truly becomes a star. Garza was a pitcher we needed, and while I’m not thrilled we dealt Archer and 4 others, I’ll enjoy the deal for what it is now; a guy I’ve always liked coming to my favorite team.

      • spudchukar - Jan 7, 2011 at 3:34 PM

        Think about this way hackerjay. Every year each league produces about 5 worthy candidates for ROY, at the most. That is one for every team every 3 years. And this includes all the Grade A, can’t miss candidates. Sure, sometimes there are the late-bloomers but by in large only a small number of the can’t misses make it, much less than those destined to do no better than maybe make the bigs. It seems wiser to gear up for a few Grade A’s and fewer, more hopeful Grade B’s. How you go about that is of course the rub. Maybe emphasize the up side? I just know my guys, yes the Cardinals and their organization has been consistently trashed the past decade for their player procurement decisions. But I’ll take Pujols, Molina, Rasmus, and Garcia, even if they are small in number.

      • hackerjay - Jan 7, 2011 at 7:06 PM

        A) The Cubs graduated a Rookie of the year Candidate last year.
        B) Obviously, having a lot of B-Grade prospects is useful too, since you can trade them for high quality players.

  7. streatordave - Jan 7, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    Cubs just continue to find ways to not be competitive & yet find new ways to get less on the field for more money out of the payroll. Hendry has got to go. The Cubs need to put money back into the farm system as the Rays, Rangers, Twins & even the YANKEES have done.

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Jan 7, 2011 at 12:28 PM

      Right on. Hendry has been the problem for years now. Just off the top of my head: Fukodome, Soriano, Bradley…each of those is a terminable offense.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 7, 2011 at 1:42 PM

        You can say the same about most teams with big contracts. People don’t like the Wells, Zito and Burnett deals, but that was their cost at the time of their free agency, just like Fukudome (who had about 10 teams chasing him) and Soriano.

        Bradley was an error in Hendry thinking he could straighten him out by ‘honoring’ him with a multi-year deal, but most of what Hendry’s done that’s questionable has been at the request of those above him, especially the Tribune before they sold the team.

        I don’t think Hendry’s as solid as Theo Epstein or Kevin Towers, but I’m still a fan.

      • Ari Collins - Jan 7, 2011 at 2:05 PM

        The difference is that most teams get SOMETHING out of their big contracts. The Cubs spent $144 million last year for a below-average team. They had the fourth highest payroll, and you have to go down to the 14th highest payroll to find a team that lost more games. That’s the Mariners, and they spent $50 million less than the Cubs. Even Minaya’s mets spent less and won more.

      • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Jan 7, 2011 at 3:33 PM

        That’s exactly what I’m driving at, Ari. Hendry throws money at bad contracts too often. Soriano’s contract was WAY too long, it wasn’t the money on that one. Fukodome was for too much money for a big question mark. Although, I fault the Cubs less on that one. Bradley, well that one was just the wool over Hendry’s eyes. Garza will be solid, but will the team be a playoff contender in 2011 b/c of it? I doubt it. This shouldn’t be a spending year for the Cubs, it should be a cost-cutting & rebuilding year.

  8. Ari Collins - Jan 7, 2011 at 12:19 PM

    Good trade for the Rays. They can plug Hellickson in and get the same production as Garza, plus add to their already-really-good farm system. It’s an especially good deal if they use the $5 or $6 million they save towards a DH like Manny, Vladdy, or Thome.

  9. BC - Jan 7, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    Wow. I said all along that the Rays should have traded Shields and not Garza… but MAN did they fleece the Cubs. Good trade.

  10. oldhighs - Jan 7, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    Once again, the Cubs trade young talent and prospects in order to make a deal for a big-name. This happens year after year, and it’s always fun to watch it blow up in their face.

  11. spudchukar - Jan 7, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    Just what the Cubs need, another head case.

  12. nick5253 - Jan 7, 2011 at 1:46 PM

    I’m not a huge fan of this deal in principal. The cubs finally declared they would build from within and them immediately ship 4 of their top 20 prospects out the door for a solid #2/3 starter.

    Looking closer though, the 4 lost players would not have affected the major league roster much in the next 2/3 years:

    Archer – had the biggest upside of the 4, could have been a strong setup guy to Marmol or back of rotation starter in 2012 – although blocked as a starter by Z, Demp, Wells, Cashner, Coleman, Shark, Carpenter.

    Lee – will not make it to the bigs until his bat comes around more. IF that happens, it would be 2013.

    Guyer – blocked by Soriano, Byrd, Colvin, Jackson

    Chirinos – blocked by Soto, Castillo

    Plus Hendry is actually selling high on these guys. How many times do Cubs fans complain that Hendry waits until a player hits rock bottom before trading them. 2/3 of these guys could revert to average prospects by this time next year.

  13. spudchukar - Jan 7, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    Add Garza, to Ramirez, Soriano, Soto, Zambrano, Samarzda, and Castro. What a clubhouse. Good move Lou.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 7, 2011 at 1:50 PM

      …Lou? Samarzda? Are you referring to a former manager and Jeff Samardzija?

      • spudchukar - Jan 7, 2011 at 1:53 PM

        OK, I’ll take the hit on the spelling, lazy on my part, and yes I imagine Sweet Lou is basking in the Tampa Bay sun.

  14. spudchukar - Jan 7, 2011 at 1:51 PM

    OOPs, Forgot Marmol. Lee and Theriot just couldn’t fit into the nuthouse?

  15. psousa1 - Jan 7, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    Good deal for both teams. Garza will feast on the NL and the Rays will re-load.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 7, 2011 at 3:03 PM

      Well said. It should be interesting to see Garza face the Astros and Pirates.

    • Ari Collins - Jan 7, 2011 at 3:51 PM

      Moving to the NL will help, but he’s a flyball pitcher with a good-but-not-great strikeout rate. Which makes him a great fit with TB’s defense and a spacious outfield behind him, and not so good a fit with Chicago’s defense and a bandbox behind him.

      I’ll be really curious to see how he does!

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