As the winter progresses, the market for Matt Garza, who may be the best pitcher still available via free agency, continues to heat up. Most recently, the New York Post's Joel Sherman has reported that there is a growing feeling in the industry that the 30-year-old right-hander could sign soon, with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Angels currently viewed as the frontrunners. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has also stated that the Minnesota Twins have shown interest as well.
With top free agent starters Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana having received qualifying offers, Garza is a particularly appealing option this winter since he could provide production near or better than that of the aforementioned duo, while also not costing his signing team a draft pick. He is expected to receive a deal in the range of four to five years and $65 to $80 million.
Since 2008, Garza has averaged a 3.76 ERA, 110 ERA+, 2.7 WAR, and 175 innings pitched per season. He put up a 106 ERA+ in 24 starts last year with the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers, who acquired him from the former near July's trade deadline.
The Angels have long seemed a logical fit for Garza given their lack of starting pitching and an objective to contend next season. Tuesday's Mark Trumbo trade certainly aided the club's need, as they acquired two young pitchers, one of which (Tyler Skaggs) has the potential to be more than just a back of the rotation starter. Still, the Angels have one spot in their rotation that is currently open, and Garza would fit in nicely behind Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson, and in front of Garrett Richards and Hector Santiago (assuming Skaggs starts the year at Triple-A).
Even with their signings of Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes, the Twins have a major weakness when it comes to starting pitching. Behind Nolasco and Hughes, the club is currently set to roll out the likes of Scott Diamond and Samuel Deduno next season. While Garza would represent a huge upgrade to Minnesota's rotation, the organization as a while is likely two or three years away from real contention, and by then, Garza would be nearing the end of his deal.
On the other end of the Mark Trumbo deal, the D-Backs have set their eyes on starting pitching even though they already have 5 capable starting pitchers in Patrick Corbin, Wade Miley, Brandon McCarthy, Trevor Cahill, and Randall Delgado. Garza would definitely be an upgrade over Delgado or McCarthy, but their gain likely wouldn't be substantial enough for the club to be justified in giving out $65+ million for.