Pirates Had a Scout Watching Matt Garza

Jon Morosi of Fox Sports has an update on Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza, who has been one of the biggest names on the trade market this year. Morosi says that five teams had scouts at Garza’s last start. The Texas Rangers had two scouts watching Garza, while four other teams had one each. The Pirates were one of those teams with a scout in attendance.

This is the time of year where a scout being in attendance usually sparks a trade rumor. The truth is that a scout in attendance doesn’t necessarily mean a team is interested in trading for a guy, and it definitely doesn’t mean you should pencil that guy in any future rotations or lineups. Morosi notes that the Padres were in attendance, but look like sellers at the deadline. He also says that the Blue Jays were in attendance, but are probably more interested in Garza as a free agent after the season.

As far as the Pirates, he says they don’t have an urgent need for rotation help with A.J. Burnett back, although they could become more interested if Garza is available later this month. I’m not sure what that means. Maybe Morosi is just predicting that the Pirates will have another starting pitching shortage later in the month, since they seem to have a starter going down once every few weeks.

It’s not a guarantee the Cubs will trade Garza. They’ve been talking about trying to sign him to a long-term deal, although that has the feel of a negotiations tactic to try and get a better trade return.

Garza is making $10.25 M and is a free agent after the season. His trade value (if you put him as a 3 WAR pitcher) is $4.7 M. He’s a rental, so he doesn’t have a high price. Even if you put him at his best year (4.8 WAR), he’d have a value of $8.8 M for the rest of the year.

The $5 M value is equal to a Grade B hitting prospect. A lot of the names Morosi mentions are ranked higher than that. He mentions Martin Perez, Joey Gallo, and Mike Olt from Texas, and Francisco Lindor and Tyler Naquin from Cleveland. He says the Indians probably wouldn’t deal Lindor. If you’re looking for equal valued prospects from the Pirates system, you’re probably talking about Alen Hanson, Tyler Glasnow, Josh Bell, Nick Kingham, or Luis Heredia. If the Rangers were offering Olt, for example, then I don’t think the Pirates would have a shot unless they offered Hanson.

That might sound like a lot for a rental, although Garza would almost certainly fetch a draft pick at the end of the year. That would give the Pirates an extra pick in the 11-30 range of the first round of the 2014 draft. That would ease the pain of losing a top prospect for a rental, since you’d be getting a top prospect back a year later. (UPDATE: Forgot about the new rules that say you can’t get a compensation pick for a rental.) The question is whether the Pirates would need to go through that process to add a starter. They have a good rotation now, and Wandy Rodriguez could be the equivalent of a trade deadline acquisition when he returns. On the flip side, a rotation of A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Jeff Locke, Gerrit Cole, and Matt Garza would be pretty powerful for the remainder of the year if everyone stays healthy (and health has been an issue for Garza the last two years). I know everyone’s focus is on offense, but the Pirates have been winning because of pitching and defense, and this would only strengthen that.

Of course all of this is hypothetical discussion, since we don’t know if the Pirates were even looking at Garza as a trade option. And if they were, we don’t know for sure that the Cubs are dealing Garza or extending him. I think it’s going to be the former, and if that’s true, we don’t know if the Cubs would prefer the prospects the Pirates would have to offer (most of the guys mentioned above are in A-ball) compared to the guys the Rangers have to offer (who could provide more immediate help). We also don’t even know if my list of prospects is what it would take, or if the Cubs would want one of Jameson Taillon or Gregory Polanco instead (in which case, absolutely not).

What we do know is that the Pirates have the prospects to make a deal like this, they’d probably get a slightly lesser valued prospect back next year, and adding a pitcher would strengthen the part of the team that has been the reason the Pirates are winning this year. It wouldn’t be a bad approach for them to take this month.

UPDATE: Now that I have been reminded that you don’t get a compensation pick for a rental, I wouldn’t make the deal. The Pirates would be better off going with their current rotation, hoping for Wandy Rodriguez to return in August, and making smaller deals to upgrade the offense and bench. If they do address the rotation, it would probably be better to go for a smaller deal, rather than dealing a top prospect for a rental.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • https://profiles.google.com/110709561392331201235 Vicente Barletta

    Tim: correct If I am wrong but I think with the new agreement a player has to be with the team the whole season to get a draft pick.
    While we are in the trade rumors, several week ago a it was mentioned that the Pirates were interested in Jake Peavy before he went on the DL.
    I really like Peavy for the same reasons you say Garza could be strenghthen the Pirates rotation, but he has a contract for 2014, an insurance in case Burnett doesnt come back. Any thoughts?

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      Someone reminded me of this on Twitter. The article above has been updated.

      I didn’t see where they were interested in Peavy.

  • elgaupo

    Tim, what if I told you I think the scout was actually looking at Dioneer Navarro and pretending to look at Garza?

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      That’s another thing about “(Team) had a scout watching (Player)” talks. That scout might not have been there to watch that player.

      • Operation Shutdown

        Seems more likely that they would end up with Schierholtz rather than Garza by August 1st.

  • BostonsCommon

    My initial thought is that I would rather part with 1 top 10 prospect to make a push this year, than several top 10 that it would require to go after Cliff Lee or Giancarlo, not that either of the ladder would ever happen.

    I think the system has been build up enough to make a move like this and have it not be a major blow. My hope would be that the Pirates can deal someone the industry treats as a top prospect (R. Grossman), but they might not have as high a ceiling on.

    My other thought re: ” rotation of A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Jeff Locke, Gerrit Cole, and Matt Garza would be pretty powerful for the remainder of the year”…

    That’s a lot of lefties. Not that i would be a problem, especially with the quality, and massive PNC park left field. You just don’t see it a lot… Would one of Curry, Dickerson, Lambo, and a low level starter get it done?

    • stickyweb

      Garza’s a righty, so the only LHPs you listed are already stalwarts in the rotation. And of course when Wandy comes back, that will be another, but I think we’ll suffer through 3 lefties if they’re the caliber of Liriano, Locke and Wandy

      • BostonsCommon

        That’s my fault, not sure why I was thinking Garza was a LHP, thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

    I want a hitter. We seem to have enough pitching.
    .

    • stickyweb

      Agreed Lee. Counting on Wandy to come back, but even if he doesn’t they have Jeanmar, Cumpton and even Kris Johnson and Pimentel to step in if needed. With the quality they already have, even if a starter goes down, they don’t need a stud, just someone to pick up a little slack. Just trade a fringe prospect, maybe that they need to make a 40 man or Rule 5 decision on this off season for a 3 or 4 type starter.

      • buster09

        I agree with Lee and yourself Sticky about a hitter being a higher priority,but after watching Stolmy the first half of this season in Altoona,I am not so sure I would want the Bucs postseason riding on his arm .

  • robcod

    Garza is a righty

  • deacs

    Kind of off topic but what do you think the odds are of Wandy or AJ returning next year? Does the injury to Wandy make the 2014 option more attractive?

    • BostonsCommon

      As long as Wandy makes it back this year and pitches at a high level with no surgery involved, I think he’ll learn toward Free Agency. Especially if he helps pitch the Bucs to the playoffs.

      With AJ, I really don’t think he even knows. You get the sense that he really likes pitching in Pittsburgh, likes hanging out with the younger guys like Cutch, and really likes working with the young pitchers (Cole, Locke, ect). But at the same time, he could just assume go fish and watch Walking Dead next year…

    • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

      I guess you’re asking Tim, but I’ll answer. Wandy has a player option for next year and I think current expectations are that he would exercise it and come back. The injury to Wandy this year would likely come up if he chose to look for a deal elsewhere and he may not get as good an offer as the $13 million player option to stay with the Pirates. I think the Astros are on the hook for some of that $13 million so it shouldn’t be a big deal for the Bucco’s.
      .
      Wandy return odds: Very likely to return.
      .
      As for AJ, from what I’ve read he hasn’t commited to anything, whether he’ll retire or want to continue playing. He seems to be in top form still so I would expect him to want to play another year at least.
      .
      AJ return odds: Toss up.

      • JRIcentral

        Agree with both…
        Pirates might go as high as $12M for AJ. But some big spender mighty go higher than that!

      • smurph

        I’ll agree with Jeremy. 13 mill is big bucks. I doubt he could get much more than that even for a 2-year deal, considering his injuries the last couple of years. He’ll take the option.

        • deacs

          My question was whether or not he exercises his 2014 option. I’m guessing this depends on how the rest of 2013 plays out. I would do a one year $12 million deal for AJ if he was up for it. Of course it’s not my money.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

    Mike Olt: Hasn’t he lost some of his top prospect luster? He’s 24 years old and hasn’t hit well at the ML and AAA levels (yet). Olt kind of reminds me of a Jerry Sands or Jeff Clement (actually Sands and Clement at least could hit well in AAA).
    .
    Olt for Garza straight up would be like the Pirates offering Lambo for Garaza straight up. (well assuming this year is legit for Lambo).

    • stickyweb

      BA has Olt at #44 in their just released updated top 50. For perspective, Hanson is #39.

      http://www.baseballamerica.com/minors/midseason-prospect-update-top-50-prospects/

      • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

        Wierd. Jeff Clement was ranked #42 by BA in 2008 when Clement was 24 years old.
        .
        Top 100 rankings are kinda of a hit or miss who’s who of all stars, good players, average everyday players, bench riders and AAAA busts. Most at least turn out to be average everyday players for at least a few years.
        .
        I kind of feel like Olt is going to fall into the AAAA bust but maybe his ceiling is an average everyday player. Similar to Jeff Clement.
        .
        Hanson on the other hand has the potential still to be a hit and make it as an all star or maybe a good player. It’s possible he could be a bust, but it will be 3 maybe 4 years before that notion enters our minds..

    • buster09

      Jeremy : Olt apparently was having some kind of problem with his sight and had to have a proceedure of some sort or another.

  • stullsy

    I heard that they’re also looking at Rios and possibly Rameriz from the White Sox. I actually hope they don’t end up going that way and giving up Polanco. I think Garza would be a good pick up, yes I know he’s a rental, but with the way he has been performing as of late, that would make the rotation strong, and they can’t count on Wandy for the rest of the season with this injury. I think they could get Garza without giving up Polanco… I don’t think they can do that for Rios.