Rays Motivated to Trade Matt Garza
The Texas Rangers are one team that is interested in Garza, particularly if free-agent left-hander Cliff Lee opts to sign with the Yankees or elsewhere and if Royals ace Zack Greinke is beyond their means in a trade.
The Brewers have also shown interest in Garza, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Milwaukee finalized a trade with the Blue Jays for Shaun Marcum on Monday to bolster a rotation that struggled mightily in 2010.
There has long been speculation that the cash-strapped Rays might try to capitalize on their pitching depth by moving one of their more experienced (and therefore more expensive) starters this winter, with Garza and James Shields the candidates.
Garza, 27, is arbitration-eligible again this winter after making $3.35 million last season. He'll get a significant raise this offseason but will still be more affordable than many pitchers of his caliber, which should allow the raise to command a premium in return.
Bullpen help is Tampa Bay's top priority, as manager Joe Maddon made clear several times during his press conference Tuesday at the Winter Meetings. But Tampa Bay could also use a bat to help replace the production of the departed Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena. The Rays also have been trying hard to move shortstop Jason Bartlett, and they reportedly are deep in discussion with the Orioles about a deal involving Nolan Reimold.
Garza, however, would be a much more lucrative trade chip. A durable power pitcher, he has posted ERAs of 3.75, 3.95 and 3.91 for Tampa Bay after coming over from the Twins. allowing fewer hits than innings pitched in each season. He was 15-10 in 2010, setting a career-high in wins and innings (204 2/3).
Tampa Bay would fill the void left by Garza's departure by plugging Jeremy Hellickson into the rotation. The Rays' top pitching prospect made his big league debut in 2010, going 4-0 with a 3.47 ERA over four starts and six relief appearances.
"I really think Helli's ready to pitch in the big leagues," Maddon said Tuesday.
Joe Maddon addressed the media Tuesday at the Winter Meetings. Watch video below: