Before I get started, I apologize if my formatting goes awry. If a mod sees that, please feel free to go ahead and fix it.
Coming into 2013, Matt Garza was entering his age 29 season. At that time, he sported a 3.84 ERA (108 ERA+), a 1.290 WHIP, a 7.6 K/9 to 3.1 BB/9 (for a 2.46 K:BB) in his 1,027 inning major league career. He was set to make $10.5M in his last season of his contract before becoming a free agent after the World Series in October.
Coming into 2013, Ervin Santana was entering his age 30 season. At that time, he sported a 4.33 ERA (97 ERA+), a 1.300 WHIP, a 7.1 K/9 to 2.9 BB/9 (for a 2.46 K:BB) in his 1,475 2/3 inning major league career. He was set to make $13M in his last season of his contract before becoming a free agent after the World Series in October.
Matt Garza is a little younger and had been slightly better coming into this season. He was also slightly cheaper (as the Rangers will owe him ~$4.28M the remainder of the year, while Ervin Santana is owed ~$5.38M for the same duration.) However, this year Matt Garza has missed 8 or so starts. He has only made 11 starts and has a 3.17 ERA (125 ERA+), a 1.141 WHIP, a 7.9 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 (for a 3.71 K:BB) in 71 innings this season. Whereas, Ervin Santana has really blossomed. He's thrown 130 1/3 innings in 19 starts this season for the Kansas City Royals. He has put up a 3.18 ERA (130 ERA+) with a 1.074 WHIP, a 7.2 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 (for a 3.71 K:BB as well.)
The trade on the books
Matt Garza is about as PERFECT a comparison as you could make for what the Royals could get in trading Ervin Santana this season. So what did the Cubs get in return for Matt Garza? Well, they got a haul. The prime player to come over in the deal was Mike Olt. He's the #22 prospect coming into the year and is a third baseman who has been in AA and AAA this year - and has a career .878 OPS in the minors. He is also widely regarded as a very good corner infielder defensively. That being said, he is mightily struggling this year in AAA and has dropped on some prospect lists. The Rangers also gave up C.J. Edwards, a 21-year old right-handed starter currently in A ball. He has made 31 starts in the minors over the last year, plus. He has thrown 160 1/3 innings with 207 strikeouts and only 59 walks. That's a 3.51 K:BB ratio and 11.6 K/9 innings. Edwards is a formerly 48th round pick just 13 months ago and is showing tremendous abilities in the minors. The third named player in the deal is Justin Grimm. Grimm is a 24-year old right-handed starter who has thrown 36 games (32 starts) at the major league level in the last two years. He has a 2.38 K:BB and 7.1 K/9, but has struggled with a 6.73 ERA (65 ERA+) and 1.670 WHIP. In the minors, he pitched much better; in four levels over three years, he has a career 1.196 WHIP and 3.07 ERA with a 2.93 K:BB in over 280 innings. He's a former 5th round pick. The Rangers also gave up a player to be named later. One player linked earlier to a possible trade was Luis Sardinas - the #83 rated prospect. I sincerely doubt he will be the PTBNL, but if he is, that would greatly increase the haul the Cubs have received in this deal. I would guess it's closer to a nobody than Sardinas, as he is a shortstop with a .716 OPS over 3 levels in 4 years (990 PAs).
Who needs a starter?
Well, there are, as I count now, 14 teams in contention. As a Cardinals fan, I realize that we could use another starting pitcher, but it's not an absolute need. I will not be including theCardinals in this deal because if I were John Mozeliak, I would not go after Ervin Santana at this time. Also, the Rangers just shored up their need and have 7 or so men who are possibilities for their rotation now.
The remaining 12 teams on the list of teams in contention are:
- Boston Red Sox
- Tampa Bay Rays
- Baltimore Orioles
- New York Yankees
- Detroit Tigers
- Cleveland Indians
- Oakland Athletics
- Arizona Diamondbacks
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Pittsburgh Pirates
- Cincinnati Reds
- Atlanta Braves
For the rest of the teams, I believe I'm going to list their starting rotations in terms of effectiveness (as I see it).
The Boston Red Sox have had Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, Jon Lackey, Jon Lester, and Ryan Dempster largely in their 5-man rotation this season. While Santana would represent a clear upgrade over Dempster (and I'd argue Lester), he's not likely to be a HUGE upgrade over the other three. However, Clay Buchholz is injured and isn't supposed to be back for a month or so at the time of this writing. Right now, they are going with nobody worth mentioning as a 5th starter. Santana would be a clear upgrade for 1 month and then Dempster could be moved to the bullpen for the last 40 games or so. Trade Possibility: Above average
The Tampa Bay Rays have had Matt Moore, Jerey Hellickson, Alex Cobb, David Price, Chris Archer, and Roberto Hernandez start at least 10 games for them this year. However, they are not looking to take on payroll - EVER. Trade Possibility: None
The Baltimore Orioles have had Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman, Jason Hammel, and Freddy Garcia start 10 or more games for them. However, they just traded Jake Arrieta for Scott Feldman and will not likely add another starter. Trade Possibility: Pigs flying
The New York Yankees currently have Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettite, CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, and Phil Hughes. David Phelps has been injured and is nearing a return - and he'd slot in nicely as a #3 or #4 based on how he's pitched. However, the Yankees are always looking to add, especially being in 4th place in the AL East currently. Also, Santana would likely fit in 2nd in their rotation behind Hiroki Kuroda in terms of performance this season and might be their #1 based on being able to throw more innings. Trade Possibility: High
The Detroit Tigers currently have an absolutely stacked rotation of Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, and Rick Porcello. Porcello might be better than Santana and might not. However, Detroit has also seen Santana in the past week and Santana did this against them: 7 1/3 innings of 2-hit shutout ball. Keep in mind that Detroit has one of the best offensive teams in either league. Trade Possibility: Slight
The Cleveland Indians have had Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber, Scott Kazmir, Zach McAllister, Ubaldo Jimenez, and 4 others start games. While McAllister is just coming back from injury, nobody behind Masterson has been better than Santana. Jimenez might be at a point in his career in which a move to the bullpen could help him. Santana has pitched quite well against the Indians, too, however. In two games against Cleveland this year, Santana has thrown 14 innings of 9-hit, 1-run, 11 K, 2 BB ball. Trade Possibility: Maybe Average (only this low because they are in the division.)
The Oakland Athletics have had Bartolo Colon, Dan Straily, AJ Griffin, Tommy Milone, and Jarrod Parker all start 15 or more games. While they are all decent pitchers, Santana would marke a clear improvement as their #2/3 starter. But, the A's are always reluctant to take on payroll, so I doubt a move gets made here. However, Bartolo Colon may soon be going on the Suspended List after the Braun suspension and ARod talk today. Trade Possibility: Slightly below average
The Arizona Diamondbacks have had Patrick Corbin, Brandon McCarthy, Wade Miley, Ian Kennedy, and Trevor Cahill. They also have Randall Delgado and Tyler Skaggs pitching at this time because McCarthy and Cahill are currently on the DL and aren't supposed to be back for anywhere between 2 and 8 weeks. I personally believe, with those two coming back somewhat soon, the Diamondbacks are committed to their current 7 members of their 2013 rotation. Trade Possibility: Little to none
The Los Angeles Dodgers have had difficulty with injuries this year and are not adverse to adding payroll. Their rotation consists of Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Zack Greinke, Chris Capuano, and Ricky Nolasco. They just traded for Nolasco and have both Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly on the DL, along with Stephen Fife and Josh Beckett. They have the pieces to pitch well, but I would not be surprised to see a move here. Trade Possibility: Above Average
The Pittsburgh Pirates have had AJ Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Jeff Locke, Gerrit Cole, and Wandy Rodriguez in their rotation lately. Rodriguez is injured - and was largely ineffective - however. They need a 5th instead of Jeanmar Gomez - who has been rather MEH. Santana could step in and be the ace of this staff. The Pirates seem to me to believe they have a real shot this year, as opposed to falling off considerably after the All-Star break the last two years. They don't want that to happen again and I could see a trade here. Trade Possibility: High
The Cincinnati Reds have had Homer Bailey, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, Bronson Arroyo, and Tony Cingrani (slash Cueto when healthy) in their rotation this year. Santana is a clear upgrade over Leake/Arroyo/Cingrani right now and would allow Cingrani to go back to the bullpen. It would also give the Reds a reason to completely shut Cueto down and get him healthy before trying to bring him back for a 4th go-around this year as they'd have a 5 man rotation they could trust. When GM Walt Jocketty was with the Cardinals, he was always apt to trade potential for current production and I don't see it being any different now. Trade Possibility: High
The Atlanta Braves have had Mike Minor, Tim Hudson, Julio Teheran, Kris Medlan, and Paul Maholm basically in the rotation all year. Paul Maholm just went down with an injury, but the Braves are counting on (read: hoping) Brandon Beachy to come back from injury later this season and be effective. Santana, with the injury to Maholm, would be an instant upgrade to the rotation over - who knows who? - the player filling in for Maholm. He would also likely be better than everybody but Minor in that rotation. Trade Possibility: High
What do those teams that might actually make the trade have to offer?
Boston Red Sox
- Jackie Bradley - CF - #32 prospect - Former first round pick in 2011 with a .900 career minor league OPS currently in AAA and
- One starting pitcher of lefty Henry Owens (A+ ball), righty Francellis Montas (A ball), lefty Brian Johnson (A ball), right Luis Diaz (A ball), or righty Sergio Gomez (A- ball) and
- Rubby De La Rosa or Allen Webster from AAA Pawtucket to go along with a
- PTBNL (given that the Red Sox won't have to give up both Henry Owens and Allen Webster as both are top 100 prospects)
New York Yankees
- Mason Williams or Tyler Austin - #41 and #75 respective prospects - both outfielders and
- One starting pitcher out of righty Shane Greene (A+ ball), righty Mikey O'Brien (A+ ball), righty Rafael De Paula (A ball), righty Jose Campos (A Ball), righty Jairo Heredia (A- ball), and lefty Caleb Smith (A- ball), plus
- Vidal Nuno and a
- Nick Castellanos - 3B/LF/RF - Former first round pick in 2011 and #21 prospect with an .809 career OPS in the minors, currently in AAA and
- One starting pitcher out of righty Jake Thompson (A ball) or righty Jonathan Crawford (A- ball), plus
- Lefty Jose Alvarez and a
- Addison Russell - SS - Former first round pick in 2012 and #48 prospect with a career .901 OPS in the minors, currently in High A ball and
- One of righty Drew Granier (A+ ball), righty Sean Murphy (A+ ball), righty Raul Alcantara (A ball), lefty Brent Powers (A- ball), righty Dylan Covey (A- ball), or righty Bobby Wahl (A- ball), plus
- Righty Sonny Gray and a
Los Angeles Dodgers
- Joc Pederson - OF - Former 11th round pick in 2010 and #85 prospect with a career .897 OPS in the minors, currently in AA ball and
- One of righty Ross Stripling (A+ ball), righty Carlos Frias (A+ ball), righty Lindsey Caughel (A+ ball), righty Angel Sanchez (A ball), lefty Julio Urias (A ball), righty Jharel Cotton (A ball), righty Victor Araujo (A- ball), or righty Francisco Villa, plus
- righty Matt Magill and a
- Alen Henson - SS - #54 prospect OR Gregory Polanco - OF - #65 prospect and
- One of righty Nick Kingham (A+ ball), lefty Eliecer Navarro (A+ ball), lefty Orlando Castro (A ball), lefty Cody Dickson (A- ball), or righty Chad Kuhl (A- ball), plus
- maybe Stolmy Pimental or Jeanmar Gomez? and a
- Robert Stephenson - RHP - #51 prospect - 2011 first round draft pick currently in High A ball, plus
- One of righty Jon Moscot (A+ ball), righty Carlos Contreras (A+ ball), right Mike Dennhardt (A+ ball), righty Drew Cisco (A ball), or righty Ben Lively (A- ball), plus
- OF Dennis Phipps and a
When I looked at the Cleveland Indians and the Atlanta Braves, I did not see a good match up. I also think the Cincinnati Reds offer I added is not only quite different from the others, but not as good as the others. If I'm the Royals, I choose between the Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers, A's, Dodgers, and Pirates "offers" listed above - if they were to be offered to them.