We all know Hal Steinbrenner has set a goal of cutting the Yankees' payroll to $189 million for 2014. Your duty as a Yankees fan is to make sure he doesn't achieve that goal, and our job at ESPNNewYork.com is to provide you with reasons to make sure he doesn't. Hey, it's Hal's money, not yours. With that in mind, we are going to examine potential free-agent and trade candidates in a new feature we call, appropriately, "Spend Hal's Money."
Today's candidate: Matt Garza
Position: Starting Pitcher
Age: Turns 30 on Nov. 26
2013 numbers: 10-6, 3.82 ERA, 24 starts for Cubs and Rangers
Expected going rate: Veteran free-agent starting pitchers can be pricey. It would make sense for Garza's agent to point to Garza's former teammate, Edwin Jackson, who got four years and $52 million from the Cubs last season and say "My guy is better than that."
Garza's career numbers are comparable to those of Anibal Sanchez (Sanchez is listed as his fourth-most comparable player on Baseball-Reference.com) and the Tigers gave Sanchez five years and $80 million this past offseason.
The pros: The good version of Garza is an above-average starting pitcher. Over the past three seasons, he has an ERA of 3.62 and a strikeout-to-walk rate of better than 3-to-1.
Matt Garza vs Anibal Sanchez
He had stretches in which he pitched like a high-end starter, such as his last six starts for the Cubs prior to his trade to the Rangers (1.24 ERA in 43 2/3 innings)
Garza has a good history against the Yankees AL East rivals. He's pitched well in Rogers Centre and decently in Fenway Park and Camden Yards. He beat the Red Sox twice in the 2008 ALCS.
Garza won't cost the Yankees a draft pick. Since he was traded in midseason, he is ineligible to receive a qualifying offer (if the Yankees sign a free agent who receives a qualifying offer, it would cost them a first-round pick).
The Steamer projection for Garza in 2013 per Fangraphs.com is a 3.94 ERA over 173 innings. That's basically a match for what the Yankees got from Andy Pettitte in 2013.
The cons: Garza has made 18 and 24 starts the last two seasons due to a pair of injuries (elbow, strained lat), so his ability to stay healthy will be a concern. He typically throws about 20 sliders a game, which can be hard on the arm.
Garza described by his teammates and emotional and ultra-competitive (it was awhile ago, but in 2008 he did get into a fight with his catcher in the Rays dugout) which might not be the best fit for someone prone to giving up home runs who would have to pitch in hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium 16 times a year.
Lastly, though there were some free-agent signings last year that looked good in Year 1 (Sanchez and Zack Greinke among them), long-term starting pitcher signings are dicey. There are definitely more Carl Pavanos than Mike Mussinas.
THE VERDICT: Signing Garza would be a bit of a risk, one the Yankees might not be looking to take given their desire to stay under a payroll of $189 million. Our verdict would be to pass on Garza if he's looking for Sanchez-type money, but to put him on their short list if he can be garnered for something closer to Jackson dollars.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments.