It may be 102 degrees in St. Louis where the Dodgers are opening a four game series tonight, but the trade rumors are blazing hot. We’ve got more trade talks than you can shake your money-maker at.
It’s no secret that the Dodgers and their new owners, with deep pockets, are looking to upgrade the team for the stretch drive. Unlike seasons before the Dodgers have plenty of money, but lack top prospects needed to make deals. That’s why the Dodgers have said they are willing to take on bad contracts. They don’t have any other choice. The Dodgers have been said to be looking for a third baseman, first baseman, starting pitcher, and left handed reliever. It is unlikely the Dodgers will even get half of that this trade season.
The Dodgers have been coveting Cubs Starter Ryan Dempster. We have already taken a look at him over here at Lasorda’s Lair, but today we will be taking a look at another possible trade target the Dodgers are eyeing on the same team. The new trade target is Starting pitcher Matt Garza. According to sources, the Cub’s asking price for Dempster was too high, and the Dodgers have backed off their pursuit of Dempster, and have now shifted their attention to Garza. Apparently the Cubs have a deal on the table to send Dempster to the Braves for pitcher Randall Delgado, but Dempster is a 10 and 5 rights man, which means he can veto any trade, and has yet to approve the deal.
Assuming both pitchers are still available, which one is a better fit for the Dodgers? Well if you ask me it’s neither. I think trading for Dempster, or Garza is a waste of resources, and while the Dodger’s new ownership is rich with cash, they are poor with impact prospects, and have a noticeable lack of position player depth in the farm system. It’s looking like the Dodgers only have the resources to make one trade, but should it really be for a starting picher? Especially when Ted Lily is due back soon, and Rubby De La Rosa makes his return in September? Remember also the Dodger’s starting third baseman is hitting .190 with two home runs, and our starting first baseman, is hitting .248 with two home runs.
Despite our auto outs, at the corners, and our desperate need for an impact bat that can play first and or third base, the Dodgers are still trying to get Dempster, and or Garza. Don’t get me wrong, both would be fantastic additions to the Dodger’s pitching staff. We already know that Dempster is having a career year at age 35, but what about Garza?
Matt Garza, a 28 year old right hander, is 5-7 with the Cubs this year, posting a 3.91 ERA, 96 whiffs, and 32 walks, in 103 innings pitched. Garza has a 8.3 whiff per nine rate, and a solid .236 opponents batting average against, and a 2.95 ERA on the road.
Garza is originally from Selma California, graduated from Washington Union High, and then Cal State Fresno, before being drafted in the 25 round of the 2005 amateur draft by the Twins. Garza has played for the Twins, Rays, and Cubs, and has seven years experience in the majors. Garza has a career record of 57-61 and a 3.84 ERA. Garza has 845 whiffs, and a career 7.6 whiff per nine rate, and 3.1 walk per nine rate. Garza won a career high 15 games in 2010 for Tampa Bay, and has pitched 200 or more innings in two seasons (2009-2010). There is no doubt that Garza is a good pitcher too, and would be a welcome addition to the Dodger’s rotation. So which pitcher would be a better fit for the Dodgers? Dempster? Or Garza?
There are a few factors involved here. First of all, I think that Dempster is without doubt, the more talented, and experienced pitcher having a career year. He leads the league in ERA, and has the higher talent level. Of course Garza is good too, not quite at the level of Dempster, but still an impact arm. Both are impact arms. However Garza would probably be better in the long term, then Dempster, and it has nothing to do with numbers.
Dempster is in the final year of his contract, and is a free agent after this year. Because of the new rules of the collective bargaining agreement, if Dempster leaves after this season, to sign with another team, the Dodgers would not receive any kind of draft pick compensation. Basically if the Dodgers acquired Dempster, he would more than likely be a two month rental.
As for Garza, he is under team control through the 2013 season. This year is the final year of a 9.5 million dollar contract, and Garza then would be eligible for salary arbitration. So if the Dodgers pick up Garza, they could offer him Arbitration, and then potentially sign him to a longer contract. If he leaves, the Dodgers would get draft compensation. Garza is also considerably younger that Dempster is. Of course there is one more detail that has thrown a wrench into the Dodger’s plans. Last start, Garza was pulled because of a forearm injury. The Cubs don’t think the injury is serious, but this scares me a bit. What if the Dodgers trade for him, and the he gets hurt? The Dodgers need to be careful here. There are considerable risks involved with both pitchers.
Of course people have to understand, that these teams aren’t going to just give us prospects, just because they are labeled as “sellers” , and we’re the Dodgers. No, it doesn’t work like that. The Dodgers have been calling on just about every player, but don’t have any deal in the works. The closest deal they have in process at all, is a discussion with the Cubs about Garza. The rumor is the Dodgers are shopping their organizational pitching prospect Zach Lee.
The top 50 ranked prospect is pitching in Double AA right now for the Dodgers, but they are reluctant to part with him. I don’t blame them. The Cubs and these other teams, are going to want top prospects, otherwise, they can just move on and take a better deal with another club. Another factor is the second wild card, bunching up the standings, and making more teams think they are in contention later in the season. Therefore, creating a ton of buyers, and few sellers. The Cubs and the other teams, can just sit back, and pick and choose the best offer on the table, with the best Prospects.
The Dodgers are trying, but they don’t have any trade chips to bargain with. Their only trade chip is Zach Lee, and I do NOT want the Dodgers trading him for either Garza, or Dempster. The Dodgers need an impact bat way more than a pitcher.
The thing is, the Dodger’s front office is facing a ton of pressure from the media and fans, to make some kind of trade or trades, and possibly could make a move, trading Lee, to pacify the media and fans. So it looks like they are doing something. But that is a mistake I say. I am just preparing all of the Dodger fam that it is very likely the Dodgers won’t do anything this trade season. They just don’t have the prospects. They might pick up someone off of waivers or something, but they are not going to trade away their top pitching prospect for two months of a very good 35 year old pitcher, or a 28 year old mid-rotation guy, who may be injured.
I still think this is the reason why the Dodgers should stand pat, unless they can get an impact bat. I would not trade Zach Lee for anyone, unless it’s an impact bat that can play first or third base. The Dodgers are only a game and a half back of first place in the NL West, and with Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier healthy, one middle of the lineup power bat, could put them over the edge. Will the Dodgers make any moves at all at the deadline?
It would be a mistake for the Dodgers to not make any moves this trade season. However I think it would be an even bigger mistake for the Dodgers to waste valuable resources on an area of the team that doesn’t really need to be improved.