One of the few teams in baseball with more than enough starting pitching, the Rays have agreed to trade Matt Garza to the Cubs for a collection of young players.
Headlining the prospects package is right-handed starter Chris Archer, who was just days ago ranked as the Cubs top prospect by Baseball America. Archer was touted as having two plus-plus pitches — a mid-90s fastball and a big slider — and BA suggested he could develop into either a front-line starter or a closer.
The rest of the package included SS Hak-Ju Lee (the No. 4 Cubs prospect), OF Brandon Guyer (Cubs minor league player of the year), C Robinson Chirinos (Cubs best defensive catcher who hit 18 homers last year) and OF Sam Fuld (injury prone fourth outfielder type). The Rays will also include a minor league pitcher and minor league outfielder.
That’s not a small package of players coming from Chicago, especially in terms of depth and proximity to the big leagues. If you’re wondering, yes, I think the Yankees could have matched and exceeded that package pretty easily, but it would be hard for me to imagine the Yankees sending a group like that within the division. Same with the Rays sending a player like Garza to New York. It just doesn’t seem likely.
As for the Cubs, Gordon Wittenmyer makes the case that adding Garza makes it easier for the Cubs to trade away a starter, but not from the Ryan Dempster-Carlos Zambrano crowd that might help the top of the Yankees rotation. Instead, it seems more likely that the Cubs would be willing to part with Andrew Cashner, Randy Wells, Carlos Silva, Tom Gorzelanny or Jeff Samardzija. Those five bring various levels of immediate talent and long-term upside — and one of them might be able to help the back of the Yankees rotation — but they’re not the kind of pitchers who are going to slide in behind CC Sabathia or make the Yankees no longer want Andy Pettitte.
For the Rays, dumping Garza clears some payroll and makes it easier for Jeremy Hellickson to find a spot in the Opening Day rotation.
UPDATE, 12:43 p.m.: Fernando Perez is the outfielder going from Tampa to Chicago. (tip of the hat to MLBTradeRumors)