Rays Trade History: Matt Garza, Part II


Yesterday, I took a look at the deal that sent Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett to the Rays from the Twins. Today, I will take a look the deal that sent Matt Garza away from the Rays. While this deal has not yet lived up to its full potential, we can already tell this will be one of  the better deals in Rays history.

On January 8, 2011 Rays traded away their clear number three starter, getting back a package that basically re-stocked the farm system. The Rays sent  Matt Garza, Zach Rosscup and Fernando Perez to the Cubs in this deal. Perez has since been released. The Rays received five players in the deal, all with big upside, and one that’s a legend. Sam Fuld, Robinson Chirinos, Brandon Guyer, Chris Archer, and Hak-Ju Lee all came to the Rays in this deal. Fuld, Chirinos, and Guyer have all already played in the bigs, but they all still have huge potential.

Guyer could become BJ Upton’s replacement in the future, with Desmond Jennings moving to center. Guyer didn’t have much success last season in the bigs, but had a great year in Durham. Guyer hit .312 with 14 homers and a .384 OBP. He put up even better numbers the year before in Double-A with the Cubs, so he has a chance to be a good hitter with the Rays. It will be interesting to see if  Guyer can become a good hitter at the big league level if given a starting job.

Sam Fuld created a legend last season with the Rays, bursting onto the scene as the starting left fielder and leadoff man. Even after Fuld cooled off and found himself on the bench, he still came up with timely hits for the Rays and continued the legend. He became one of Joe Maddon’s favorite late-game replacements and will enter next season in the same role.

Robinson Chirinos was a big piece in the deal, bringing a young catcher to the Rays. Chirinos had a decent showing at the plate last season, hitting .218 in 20 games with the Rays. Chirinos is clearly still developing, but he has run into the injury bug. He suffered an injury this offseason, but so did Jose Lobaton. If healthy, both will be fighting for the second catcher spot to catch with Jose Molina.

Chris Archer is still very young, at 22, but was a key prospect in the deal. He has already spent 6 seasons in baseball despite his young age, coming out of high school. Archer did not quite perform up to snuff in Montgomery last season, going 8-7 with a 4.42 ERA in 25 starts. Despite his disappointing season, he earned a call-up to Durham and pitched great in two starts, winning once and allowing only 1 earned in 13 innings. There is a chance Archer could be converted into a closer before making the bigs, but wherever he is, he should be a great player.

Finally, we get to Hak-Ju Lee. Lee is still very young and progressing, but he is the best prospect in the deal. Lee impressed in Charlotte last season, hitting .318  with 28 stolen bases. He earned the call-up to Montgomery, but didn’t quite get off to a good start in 28 games there, hitting .190. He is still very young at 21, so he could just not be ready yet. Lee will most likely spend next season at Montgomery and we will see how he does.

As for what the Cubs received, Garza had a good season for them last year, even if the record didn’t show. He finished the year 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA. Garza could enter the season as the Cubs ace if he is not dealt away first. The Cubs are shopping him, but Theo Epstein has said they are happy just keeping him. If they do decide to trade him, they will most likely be looking for a Rays-like return.

In the end, the Rays clearly got the best of this deal. The Rays received five guys with tons of upside for what amounted to be a single starting pitcher. Considering the Rays rotation was just fine without Garza, Andrew Friedman and company did a great job with this deal.