Earlier today we heard that the Pittsburgh Pirates are one of the teams strongly pursuing Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza. Garza has been linked to the Pirates a few times in the last week. I would be shocked if the Pirates end up trading for him, but I will take a look at his trade value to see what he would cost (or should cost), and to analyze why I don’t think the Pirates should even consider him.
NOTE: The purpose here isn’t to suggest the Pirates are offering this amount for these players. The purpose is to see the value of these players, using projected values (calculated as [(WAR*$5 M) - Salary]) and prospect trade values. We use our updated values for top 100 prospects, and Victor Wang’s research on prospect values for non-top 100 prospects.
Matt Garza Trade Value
|Year||Salary||WAR||FA Value||Surplus Value|
Finding the Value: Garza is making $10.25 M this year, and is a free agent following the season. He has been inconsistent the last few years. Last year he had a 1.1 WAR. The 2011 season was a career year with a 4.9 WAR. He was a 3.0 WAR player in 2008-2009, but a 1.6 WAR player in 2010. Putting him as a 3.5 WAR player is more than fair, and might be too high. If you average the last three years he’s a 2.5 WAR player. Last year was lower due to injuries, but he missed time this year with injuries so it’s fair to consider that impact. Garza’s next start is July 22nd, so I set his 2013 value from July 22nd through the end of the year.
What He’s Worth: At a 3.5 WAR, Garza is worth a young Grade C pitcher. That’s a Clay Holmes type. If you lower the WAR, you’re talking an older Grade C pitcher, like a Vic Black. Either way, the value is low due to the fact that he’s a rental and will be due almost $4 M over two months. However, Garza is sure to get more than his value. For one, he’s one of the best pitchers on the market, if not the best. That will lead to a bidding war that will drive up the value. The Cubs would also get a first round pick if they kept Garza and tendered him an offer following the year, so there’s that return to bid against. Because of his salary and production, he’s worth no more than a Grade C pitching prospect, but he’s going to get a lot more.
Analysis: Due to the value issues mentioned above, Garza is going to get more than he’s worth. I wouldn’t be surprised if he lands a top 26-50 ranked hitting prospect, which has a value of $18.12 M. From a value standpoint, the Cubs could pay all of Garza’s salary, throw in Nate Schierholtz and pick up all of his remaining salary, and they still would be about $5 M in value short. It wouldn’t surprise me if they got that value for Garza though. It will probably come from a team that doesn’t need to worry about getting a low value for a top prospect, and a team that has no issues paying a top prospect and taking on extra money.
The Pirates shouldn’t have an issue taking on salary, and they shouldn’t have an issue trading prospects. But pairing the two together for a guy who is a two month rental isn’t smart. That’s especially true when you consider pitching has been the strength of this team, and the upgrade Garza could bring wouldn’t be as big as the upgrade of a new right-fielder or everyday first baseman.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Texas lands Garza. They don’t need to worry about prospects or salary, so they could afford to give up a top 50 guy for a two month rental. You also have to consider that it’s the Cubs. It’s bad enough to give Alen Hanson (for example) for a two month rental. It’s worse when you then have to play Hanson for six years if he makes it. I wouldn’t want to see the Pirates trading for Garza, since he wouldn’t be worth the price, and wouldn’t be as big of an upgrade as a first baseman or a right fielder.