Garza Chatter is Stoking the Rays Hot Stove Fire

 

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Chris O’Meara/AP 

 

In the waning moments of the 2010 Major League Baseball Winter Meeting there is an increasing chilly wind whistling around the ornate columns of the Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort. Within the sound swirling through the colorfully decorated corridors, the name heard on the cusp of the wind is that of Rays starting pitcher Matt Garza. The Rays front office has more than let it be known that they will listen to offers and discuss their young budding star, and possibly provide him as additional luggage for some lucky GM before they hit the tarmac off Sand Lake Road.
But more than a few will balk at the attached price tag, while others will try and haggle and possibly snatch the young pitcher but he will not come as a bargain basement item. Garza can easily be thrust up into the top three pitchers made available during the Winter Meetings joining fellow starters Cliff Lee and the Royals Zack Greinke as the 1-2-3 combo of pitcher currently wetting the lips of fellow MLB GM’s. With Lee basically pigeon-holed to the top tier of moneymakers like the Yankees, Nats and Rangers, that leave right-handers Greinke and Garza as top dollar showpieces.


That being said, the Rays would love to keep someone of Garza’s ability and future potential, but the market sometimes dictates the flow and impending exit visa of a player like Garza. And he has gained the most possible trade inquiries instead of fellow starter James Shields. If you melt Garza’s last three season together you get the persona of a highly competitive hurler with an extremely emotional passion for the game. With a projected arbitration guesstimate of $ 5.5 million for 2011, he would be a financially viable option.

One of the possible negatives surrounding Garza might be the return the Rays would expect to pluck Garza from the Rays roster. Even with the aspect of a reduction the Rays payroll with sending Garza to another team, the Rays will want more than a single player in return. And that can be a defining factor that could quickly eliminate more than a few MLB teams from even calling about the right-hander.

But a crafty GM who knows about the Rays impending fiscal binds combined with the stark reality that the Rays might need to pursue a trade with one of their pitchers before the 2011 season to unblock the path of top prospect Jeremy Hellickson who has shown he is ready for full-time MLB duty. After an impressive September, Hellickson is not guaranteed a rotation slot or even a roster spot for the Rays in 2011, but am impressive Spring could force the Rays into a snap judgment pitching decision.

Maybe it is time for all of us within the Rays Republic to accept that even with Garza’s increased proficiency on the mound, maybe he has reached his ultimate zenith in trade value. That by trading him at his highest level, Garza will bring a healthy player return that will fundamentally secure the Rays next level of player development. With the Rays currently having up to 6 open slots in their bullpen for 2011, using Garza to gain some impending relief depth might be the best playable card in the Rays deck of cards.

Most in the Rays Republic might want the team to shop fellow starter James Shields instead of Garza, but Shields is coming off a sub-par 2010 season and needs to reestablish his value in the trade market before the Rays dangle him on a line. Garza has also received the most nibbles by prospective MLB teams, and could provide some internal team control since he is a Super-two arbitration eligible player and a prospective team could control him longer before Garza would hit the free agency trail. But then again, posting a No-hitter automatically has more than a few mouths watering around the league.

 

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Chris O’Meara/AP

It is that classic “Dang if you do, Dang if you don’t” scenario that even putting Garza out there to entice the rest of the league could come back to bite the Rays in the end. We have seen recently that the Rays are trying to get the most in return for anyone they consider “tradable”. With recent Jason Bartlett trade rumors falling by the wayside, it is becoming evident that the Rays value quantity as well as quality in their trade talks. Some teams might want to strike while the Rays iron is hot in the coals and steal Garza away, but that will not happen.

The Rays do not have to trade Garza or any other player currently on their roster to afford them. But the underlying aspect of possibly getting two or three players under contract for the same $ 5.5 million might entice the Rays to trade Garza a little less in return right now. But the deal will still be on the Rays terms, and will involve the players they as either future keystones or possible 2011 foundations rocks to rebuilding the franchise’s current weak spots. The Rays have never been a club that will thrust up the K-mart blue light and proclaim a special low cost price for one of their players. It is not known yet if the Rays will pull the trigger on a trade of any of their players during the Winter Meetings or before the team again begin to assemble this February.

Garza has done a lot for this Rays franchise. He has produced some of the most memorable moments in Rays history from securing the 2008 ALCS Most Valuable Player award to thrusting his fist skyward after his No-Hitter in front of the home crowd against the Tigers. I would be disappointed to see him leave, but I also understand the limitations and circumstances that surround the Rays this off season that facilitate such a move.

The cool Florida winds are still blowing through the Resort lobby, but somewhere beyond our eyesight I can still feel the warmth of the Rays taking calls and making inquires trying to find those special pieces of cordwood to stoke their Hot Stove fires.

 
 

6 Comments

Wow! You are very knowledgeable about the game of baseball. Great insight as well. You predicted that Carlos Pena would sign with the Cubs. Called that one, didn’t you? I heard that the Cubs were interested in Garza too.

Diehard,
When you have a shortlist of teams wanting a guy, sometimes you can take a dart and get a “bullseye”.
Cubs needed a good defensive First Baseman, and with a 1 year contract Pena could be the eventual winner in a 2012 Hot Stove market.
So far it seems that Prince Fielder may be the premier 1B next Winter with Pena possibly being in the top 3.
Every dog has his day, mine was just today/yesterday.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Love your blog and this was a great post. Garza is one of my personal favorite pitchers in the game. I hope the Cubs make a solid offer for him.

Ron

http://strictlycubsbaseball.mlblogs.com/

I’m amazed at how philsophical you are about the possibility of losing Garza. He’s been such a mainstay of your rotation. But as you say, maybe his value is highest right now.

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Strictlycubs,
Not sure if the Rays are dangling Garza to gauge interest, or possibly pull him back for consideration at the Trade Deadline. No matter which decision is reached, I guess I am finally content with the realization that the Rays are a team in transition.
Change because of the economical climate is in the air, and with that comes decisions that will not be popular or condoned, but vital to the longevity of the overall health of the franchise.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Jane,
Guess I have pushed my emotional self in regards to the Rays deep down into my belly until I figure out what direction the team is trying to push the Hot Stove. Right now with a giant question mark holding a huge spot in the 40-man roster, it is too early to fret, and too late to think of the past.
Should be a fun time between now and the day they unroll that A L East banner on Opening Day.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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