Pittsburgh Pirates Are Rumored to be Front-Runner for Left-Handed Pitcher Jaime Garcia

According to La Prensa (link is in Spanish), the Pittsburgh Pirates have shown a lot of interest 31-year-old left-handed pitcher Jaime Garcia this off-season and they are considered the front-runners to sign him. La Prensa notes that the Milwaukee Brewers and Kansas City Royals have also shown interest, but the Pirates have shown the most interest and they are the most likely landing spot for Garcia.

Garcia split the 2017 season between the Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees, making 27 starts total and posting a 4.41 ERA and a 4.25 FIP in 157 innings, with a 1.41 WHIP and 129 strikeouts. He spent the previous eight seasons with the St Louis Cardinals, where he had a 3.57 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP over 896 innings. In 2016, he had a 4.67 ERA, 4.49 FIP and 1.38 WHIP in 171.2 innings, with 150 strikeouts.

Garcia’s best season was 2015 when he had a 2.43 ERA in 129.2 innings, with a 3.00 FIP and a 1.05 WHIP. He missed part of the season with a groin strain, but has been relatively healthy since then. Prior to 2015, he dealt with a shoulder injury that limited him for the better part of three seasons and he had Tommy John surgery back in 2008. He has thrown over 450 innings the last three seasons, so durability shouldn’t be an issue, but he would need to get back to the 2015 and earlier results to provide solid value.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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BigB2323

When the Buccos trade Cole to NYY for Frazier, Torres, and Andujar. Garcia signing will make sense. 😉

rjgrinde

Breaking News: Pittsburgh Pirates rumored to be in lead for the services of Kenny Powers. Saw his homemade highlight real and were impressed with his machete technique. No other teams are said to be pursuing Powers with one executive even saying, “What? No. The Pirates maybe, but any other team? No, no certainly not. He is fictional, and personally Danny McBride doesn’t appear to be in the best of shape”. Despite the lack of competition the Pirates are rummored to be aggressive in their pursuit of Powers and are prepared to offer a substantial sum to acquire the fictional fallen star. The Pirates project Kenny Powers as a front of the rotation starter for the 2018-2019 season.

rjgrinde

If I am thinking of the same Jaime Garcia I have only seen him used as a reliever and a bad one at that. Sounds about right through. Go get us an aging soft tossing pitcher whose arm is held together with crazy glue. Oh, and while you are at it, see if you can find a way to throw in a top 5 prospect for money even though he is a free agent.

swartnp7

Will they just make him a bullpen lefty w/ a killer sinker?

Roberrto21

That’s the best they can do? Why bother with the 2018 season?

Arik Florimonte

I think if Neal H took a step with his left foot people would complain that he didn’t have a plan for his right.

NMR

I mean if he just kept dragging the poor thing along as it got worse and worse then yes, seems like a worthy complaint.

rich

I think I figured out the strategy:

NH is stockpiling all of the #4 and #5 pitchers around the league – so that we will only face three good pitchers out of five. This would virtually assure us of not losing 100 games as we would be 64-98

BuccosFanStuckinMD

Is he really worth pursuing and potentially blocking young pitchers like Glasnow, Brault, Holmes, Kingham, etc? I think this is another Hudson type of scenario – paying millions when there are viable and cheaper internal options….

Scott K

Lefty? Check
Sinkerballer? Double Check
Veteranosity? Triple Check

Pay that man his money!!!

-Pirates Brass

Adam Y

A rumor reporting that we might sign him is a lot different than a signed contract. Relax people. If we do sign him, spew your negativity, if that’s what you feel like you need to do.

thecrow124

Why one earth do the Pirates need another #5 starter? They have a whole rotation full and plenty of them stashed at Indy. Then again, I guess I should have seen this coming.

leefoo

WHY?

Daniel D

I think Pirates are looking for the most “bang for the buck” and they’re not necessarily looking for a SP over a hitter. They probably targeted Garcia speculating that he is possibly the best candidate to have a a bounce back (2015) season. IMO, they see him as a potential 2013 Liriano. NH is looking to place his chips on an undervalued player who could succeed bigtime. That player happens to be a SP.

Eric Marshall

I don’t see how this moves the needle. They have an over abundance of pitching options that project 3-5 on staff or in Indy. They need to let those guys pitch in the rotation and fill the bullpen vs. spending resources that should go to the offense to even the field per se on the team. I hope they don’t do this to show an appearance of trying.

juniorkrz

One simple question comes to mind: Why draft and develop all this pitching if they are not going to use it? Throw this money – and maybe more – at a bat with pop!

joe s

Why would they want him? Brault is just as good and would not cost much. Must mean that they will move on from Nova and trade him for a bag of peanuts and two of their high end prospects to get out from under his contract. This team is in free fall and I hope it will not last another 20 years???????

leowalter

” Brault is just as good….” I would like to see you prove that somehow. Don’t knock yourself out trying though.

NMR

I think there’s an extremely good chance Garcia is considerably better than Brault…I just also don’t see how he moves the needle at all.

At his stage of career and injury history, this is the kind of guy who teams sign to fill out their rotation in hopes of catching some luck for an extended run. This isn’t the next Burnett or Liriano.

piraddict

If they sign Garcia could they trade NOVA and a couple of AAAA pitchers somewhere for a 3B?

NMR

I don’t see how they’d be able to pull that off, at least not for an appreciable improvement.

Darkstone42

Unless the plan is to move Brault and Kuhl or Glasnow to the bullpen, solving the weakness in the pen by signing a starter instead of directly, I agree. I don’t think he’s a significant direct upgrade over anyone.

Though Garcia is a legitimate bounceback candidate, and maybe they think they have a taker for Nova, and would like to save some money going from Nova to Garcia, and get a lefty in the rotation, without an appreciable drop in production.

NMR

Bounce back to what, though?

I had hair the last time Garcia put together a full season of appreciably better performance. At age 32, seems far more likely this is who he is.

Darkstone42

Even last year he was worth 2.1 fWAR. Two years ago 2.8. I don’t think he’s actually regressed all that much, and his biggest problem being home runs should be masked at least a little bit as a lefty in PNC Park.

NMR

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John W

LMFAO! Oh the memories of how the Pirates would “win” the Walker trade as Pnc/Searage was going to give us 3 years of 2.5-3 WAR pitcher. Sandy is probably still laughing.

Daniel D

“This isn’t the next Burnett or Liriano.”
I believe that is exactly what NH thinks Garcia could be.

sammykhalifa

But is Brault better than the other bullpen options?

Bill W

I agree and I am thrilled that you did not state any Ray Searage magic dust!!!! If they sign this guy let him pitch. At 31 he knows what he is doing.

rickmontgomery

The only way this makes sense to me is if Searage is confident he can make the adjustments necessary to get Garcia back to performing as a reliable #3 starter AND if they trade Nova and one or two prospects for someone with some pop in his bat. If Garcia arrives, Nova needs to go. Doesn’t make sense to load up the rotation with two marginal arms.

joe s

Searage can’t fix anyone. IF he could Glasnow would be a 20 game winner.

Cudds

I really hope that this was sarcasm because Searage can definitely fix pitchers. Glasnow just hasn’t been able to pitch like a major leaguer. You can’t get away with all of the walks in the big leagues.

Joe S

Yeah, it’s really a miracle that Searage has a job…

NMR

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Micbg77

I like Garcia but I’m not really sure how he is an improvement over the other options in house. Now if they signed him and somehow flipped some of their pitching depth to bring in some help for the offense that might work. Garcia is at least a guy who has seen success in the NL Central.

Isit2016Yet

Garcia’s sinker was nearly dominant last year yet he only threw it 30% of the time. I suspect Searage would try and get that up to 45% or so and hope for better results from him.

NMR

The Pirates are stuck in 2013 as the game has moved on.

Keep trying to groundballing and shifting your way to success, and I suppose they’re in good shape when the game moves back toward favoring that strategy in another ten years. Innovation!

ccorazz

When that happens they will have had about 15 years of practice with this methodology. So, there’s that

John W

Shifts

Ground balls

Pitch to contact!

NMR

Root, root, root for our home team the *last* Pirate generation everybody yell…

jaygray007

I get what you’re saying, but maybe the point is more about

“garcia has a pitch that was really good but was underutilized”

than

“garcia has a *sinker* that was underused”

NMR

Except that pitch *was* a sinker.

I can understand your argument for the general, but we’re speaking of the specific.

jaygray007

would you put forth the argument that Garcia wouldnt be better if he used his sinker more?

I guess i dont know what metrics IsIt2016Yet is looking at either. I’m of course assuming that his sinker was, indeed, good and underused.

I guess what i’m trying to say is that i dont really care what’s trendy as long as it works.

i dont really think Garcia is some hill i want to die on. i’d rather them spend $10 million on the offense unless they thought there was a 3-4WAR season in there somewhere

NMR

No, I wouldn’t.

With the benefit of hindsight, I think it’s obvious that the sinker-the-hell-out-of-them fad was just that. Particularly over the last two years, there’s simply a limit to how much actual success a pitcher can have on balls in play.

With Garcia in particular, he’s already an extreme fastball pitcher; he just manipulates the ball in many different ways. Seems there’s *at least* as much of a chance that removing this variability, thereby becoming more monotonous and predictable to hitters, could have equally poor results.

Thom

Cubs are still relying heavily on GB/Sinker pitchers. They signed Chatwood to do just that. Cubs seem to be doing alright.

NMR

Pretty that’s not why Tyler Chatwood has generated so much…wait for it…chatter this winter:

https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/instagraphs/cubs-sign-tyler-chatwood-interesting-pitcher/

Tim Williams

I wonder if the new approach is also a fad, and if the classic “Let pitchers just do what they do best” will win out in the end. It just seems like any approach to make every pitcher throw the same way is going to have limitations.

NMR

The game will always adjust.

NMR

Bingo!

John W

You mean like the Pirates approach which until very recently(started at least working up in the zone) had been preaching for basically all of their starters to pound the bottom of the zone with a 2 seamer/sinker?

clemo83

Agreed with you per usual. The Pirates still value pitching to contact and generating ground balls as fast as possible. It feels like they are under utilizing/under valuing/under developing our pitchers ability to generate strikeouts and I think its really hamstringing the success of our staff, particularly guys like Garrett Cole and Taillon, who I think in particular could definitely generate more strikeouts. Last time we had a successful staff was led by big strikeout guys like A.J. Burnett and Liriano. Burnett carried the added bonus that he could generate a lot of ground balls as well. This pitching strategy feels analogous to the Pirates limiting strategy on the offensive end in regard to collecting hitters with high OBP and ignoring power. Both strategies can have limited success but I really think you need to be balanced in both areas – get some strikeout pitchers and get some power hitters and mix them with the pitch-to-contact groundballers and the high OBPers. Why limit yourself to one particular strategy? Then the opposition knows what’s coming.

NMR

I think that’s a great analogy. The Pirates seem to have adopted an organizational philosophy that limits upside on both sides of the game.

Thom

Also looks like he had an uncharacteristically high BABIP against his slider and curve.

jaygray007

interesting. I really do like the idea of Garcia in a vacuum the more i think about it, but i just can’t wrap my head around how this team could have ~20 million wrapped up in Nova and Garcia when the offense needs money thrown at it.

John W

Durability is always an issue with Jaime Garcia

Y2JGQ2

Its not when you have 4 young pitchers ready to step in if he gets hurt.

NMR

Ha, yeah, Jaime Garcia and durability are about the last two words I expected to hear.

leowalter

In the same sentence without the words ” lack of ” preceeding durability ?

angie0399

But why? Brault’s a lefty and a cheaper option than Garcia…

rjgrinde

I am confused as to why people think Brault will be a serviceable starter in the major leagues. He maybe serviceable as a mid reliever That you would put in if you were down 5 plus runs. The only STARTING Pitcher prospect worth getting excited about anymore is Keller as he appears to be the real deal. There are guys with stuff in the lower to mid – levels but, as we have seen in recent years, development is an issue for the Pirates with command and control issues seemingly being ignored just as long as the guy throws 95 or higher. It is becoming pervasive.

Sean M

I wish he was close to that gem he pitched against the brewers, but every other game he started has me agreeing with you

Y2JGQ2

Because Brault was an amazing AAA pitcher. Generally they become at least serviceable starters (or good relievers) assuming they don’t develop arm troubles

angie0399

I wasn’t saying I’m certain Brault will be as good as Garcia is. Garcia’s proven and Brault’s not. Who knows what’ll happen. But still, Brault’s also a lefty and would be at least 5 times cheaper than Garcia. And he had a very very good season in AAA level.

Brault might not have that 2.40 ERA ceiling but 4.40 ERA is an achievable ERA and I’d say Brault deserves some chances, and it’s worth risking it if you look at the money difference. Honestly I would trade Nova and open up a spot for Glasnow and/or Brault. Unless we’re trying to sign a #2 -3 starter, I would be opposing any SP acquisitions.

michael schalke

Brault doesn’t pass the eye test with me as he’s shown to be eminently hittable with no out pitch. I realize he’s cheaper than Garcia but not nearly as good.

angie0399

That’s exactly how I felt regarding Trevor Williams and look what he did last year. lol…

My problem with Garcia is, who is he going to replace? Nova? Then I’d be okay with that. But if we aren’t getting rid of Nova, then I don’t want any older, more expensive pitchers taking up spots unless they’re solid #2 -3 starters.

Stonecipher

Probably not a bad idea to add a left handed pitcher to the rotation. But back of the rotation options are not scarce on this team.

Cudds

I’m so confused by the direction of this off-season

bucs1971

To date, there is nothing to be confused about, since they have not done anything or said anything. Perhaps we will get some semblance of clarification next week after the winter meetings.

Y2JGQ2

….thats whats confusing. EVERY year.

bucs1971

You should be accustomed to this type of approach by now with this ownership.

Y2JGQ2

its hard to get accustomed to a lack of logic.

Bridgevillebuck

Im confused with the direction of every offseason…..

Scott K

Off season doesn’t begin until winter meetings (next week). That’s what confuses me.

NMR

The other GM’s kept Neal out of their group chat. Sad!

dr dng

What direction?

leowalter

Its the 7th of December, not February.

John W

It’s really not that complicated- just hope everyone has career years.

jaygray007

not entirely sure i’d see the point of wrapping up $20 million and 40% of the rotation in Garcia and Nova when young SP (who are probably better than Garcia and Nova) are the strength of this club.

unless of course they are super confident they can fix him and turn him into a real #3 .

Y2JGQ2

We need a lefty, and Garcia has been very good in his career (if not for the past 2 years) – I’m all for it.

bucs1971

That’s precisely why signing him is a huge, and probably very costly, risk. He has been injured for the past couple/three seasons.

Y2JGQ2

he wasn’t injured the last two seasons, he just wasn’t very good. when he’s been injured, he’s been awesome.

bucs1971

I would agree completely with your points here, Jay. Garcia was a very fine pitcher at one time, some three or four years ago. Injuries have made him very questionable in my mind at this point. We’ll see.

BuccosFanStuckinMD

This team complains about payroll, yet every year they waste millions by trading for and signing overpaid mediocre veterans – I guess Garcia will be the next one – and he will be gone by the all-star game when he flames out like Niese did….he isn’t good enough to justify this signing. Trade Nova, don’t sign this stiff, and let the likes of Glasnow, Brault, Kingham, Holmes, etc. compete for the final 1-2 spots.

Then use the millions that would be wasted on Garcia by signing some of the better International free agent prospects and actually be a player in that market….for a small market team, that would make a lot more sense.

Chuck C

They can only afford a pitcher like Garcia if they increase their payroll. 100m just doesn’t make it in baseball anymore. All it gives you is a summer of baseball with your vacation starting in October.

Y2JGQ2

I can’t say that I disagree with this…..

SufferinBuccotash

I’m going to guess they will trade Nova if they sign Garcia.

Steven Brault can’t be happy about this news,

Scott K

Brault is going to be the next Tony Watson.

rjgrinde

If he learns how to pitch well and add about 4 or 5 mph to his fast ball….then maybe

Y2JGQ2

He already throws as hard as watson….

jaygray007

yeah, either a trade or maybe they do some weird piggybacking s*** this season or something. who knows.

Thom

Really?? Whose spot would he take in the rotation?

Thom

Unless this means they’re planning to trade Cole…

Scott K

You misspelled Nova.

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