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Trade talk: Matt Garza

12/19/2011

We continue looking at free agents and trade possibilities for the Texas Rangers this offseason and today we circle back to a player we discussed just after Thanksgiving: Matt Garza. Since many of you have emailed and tweeted about Garza, let's talk about him again.

Garza, 28, was 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA in 198 innings (31 starts) for the Cubs in 2011. Six times, Garza left with a lead late in the game only to watch the bullpen give it away. He had 197 strikeouts and 63 walks as the Cubs finished 20 games under .500. He came to Chicago after an offseason trade with the Rays (the Cubs sent five minor leaguers to Tampa Bay for Garza) and was 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA in 2010, his final season in Tampa Bay.

ESPNChicago.com reported that the Rangers and Cubs had discussions about Garza during the Winter Meetings. The Cubs apparently want "top-tier" prospects and also discussed Scott Feldman, according to the report.

Like many of the starting pitchers on the trade block, interest should pick up once the Yu Darvish sweepstakes is resolved (likely Tuesday afternoon). That would help crystallize the market for Garza (and Gio Gonzalez, John Danks and others).

Garza is under team control through the 2013 season before becoming a free agent in 2014. He's arbitration eligible for two more seasons and made nearly $6 million in 2011. He's expected to cost between $8 and $9 million in 2012. So on the one hand, you're giving up some top-tier prospects for someone who would be in the rotation for more than one season.

Why he could make sense: Garza has more of a track record than many of the young starters in the rotation -- Garza has four straight seasons of at least 30 starts (more than 200 innings in two of those as well) and an ERA between 3.32 and 3.95 in that stretch. In other words: You know what you're getting. And his experience would certainly help the current young Rangers crop. The club has been interested in him before and he has postseason experience, which never hurts when you are talking about the two-time defending AL champions.

Why he might not make sense: The Rangers must choose when to use their key prospect pieces to make trades. Is Garza that guy? The Cubs want a lot for him, but perhaps the Rangers could get him for less than what the A's are likely to ask on Gonzalez (who is under team control for longer). Or is there someone better on the market that makes more sense (or will someone else pop up closer to the trade deadline that might be worth saving some of these prospects for to make a deal)?

Frankly, it all comes down to cost -- in terms of prospects -- doesn't it? What do you think of Garza? How does he compare, in your mind, to Gonzalez, Danks and some of the other starting pitcher trade possibilities we've discussed? What are you willing to give up in terms of prospects to get him?