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Friday, January 7, 2011
Steep price worth it for Garza

By Bruce Levine

Matt Garza
Matt Garza came at a steep price, but he's coming off his best season and could be worth what the Cubs gave up.
There is no doubt obtaining Matt Garza from the Tampa Bay Rays for a boatload of young talent -- Chris Archer, Robinson Chirinos, Brandon Guyer, Hak-Ju Lee and Sam Fuld -- was a steep price to pay, but the end result might be worth it.

Garza gives the Cubs a top-of-the-rotation pitcher to go along with Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster. After finishing in fifth place last year, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry had to fortify his staff to compete with the Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers.

Hendry's second move of the offseason, signing Kerry Wood to a free-agent contract, solidified an already-solid back of the bullpen that includes Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall and John Grabow.

The Garza trade will allow power-pitching right-hander Andrew Cashner to vie for the fourth rotation spot. Garza's contract with the Cubs runs through 2013. Physically, the Cubs are getting a player who's never had an injury problem and is coming off his best season. He was 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA. Garza, who's known as being a bit quirky, will fit into an already quirky group of pitchers with the Cubs. He'll make $5 million-$6 million in 2011 through arbitration.

The Cubs also picked up right-handed hitting outfielder Fernando Perez in the deal. The 27-year-old outfielder has had a dislocated wrist and shoulder surgery over the last two seasons. Perez is a speed player who may become a fourth or fifth outfielder off the bench in 2011.

The key players in the trade for the Rays were Archer and Lee. Archer is being projected into the Rays' rotation by 2012. The 22-year-old right-hander was 15-3 during two different minor-league stints last season. Archer was listed as one of the Cubs' two top minor-league pitchers, along with right-hander Trey McNutt.

Lee is considered to be a couple of years away from the majors. According to a couple of minor-league scouts, Lee will be a top-flight defender but may not hit for average in the majors. He has outstanding speed and very good range at shortstop.

Chirinos and Guyer should make it to the majors, but they weren't deal-breakers as far as the Cubs were concerned, with catchers Geovany Soto and Wellington Castillo ahead of Chirinos. And the Cubs have No. 1 pick Brett Jackson ahead of Guyer.