Matt Garza was eligible for arbitration for the third time this year, but since he was a super two he'll have one more year of arbitration. After the 2013 season he's eligible to file for free agency. The Cubs have a few options: trade him, keep him through next year or sign him to an extension. Like most players, maximum value for the player in the trade is in the past so the Cubs have already seen his value lessen. Garza's performance this year pales in comparison to last so that too has undoubtedly affected his value.
In his first season with the Cubs Garza was quite good. The second season has some bright spots, but overall he's been considerably worse. He's still been above average if you look at defense independent pitching stats, but his ERA and RA are below average. The reason for this is actually simple to explain.
He's getting shelled with men on base and in scoring position whereas last season he didn't. Obviously if batters hit better with men on base more runs will be scored. His K-BB% is nearly identical. He's striking out just a few less batters, but walking a few less too. His line drive rate is down and so is his BABIP. Also down is the number of infield fly balls he's allowed. Last year he allowed a career best 12.0% infield fly ball ratio and this year it's back to 8.3% (career average is 8.6%). We should have expected some regression there. Another huge difference is the number of fly balls that are leaving the ballpark. Last season only 7.7% of all fly balls left the park. This year it's 15.7%. His career is 9.5%, which is right where we'd expect it. We should expect his HR/FB ratio to regress this season and we also expected it to regress a bit entering the year.
What you have is a guy who is getting hit the hardest when there are men on base and he's allowing more home runs than you'd expect. The result is an ERA and FIP higher than you expected, but an xFIP in line with what did expect.
As for trade value, we need to establish his talent level first. PECOTA pegs him for 1.1 WAR the rest of the year in 113.1 innings pitched. ZiPS projectsa 112 innings and a 3.64 FIP, which is good for about 1.5 additional WAR. Oliver projects 125 innings and 1.1 WAR. The average is 1.2 WAR over 116.2 innings. Over 200 innings that is 2.1 WAR.
Over the remainder of the contract it's more than reasonable to expect about 3.3 more WAR from Garza. At $5 million per win he's worth $5.5 million the rest of the season. We can estimate it's $5.5 million next year making him worth $11.6 million. That gives us a total of $17.1 million in value.
Garza is earning $9.5 million this year so he has about $5.1 million remaining this season. He's arbitration eligible next season for the final time so we'd have to estimate his salary at about $12 million. Garza is owed approximately $17.1 million prior to becoming a free agent.
I assume you can do the math at this point. $17.1 million in value. $17.1 million in salary. Equals no trade value. We should add in the $5 million in value for the draft picks the team will collect as he's very likely to be offered the minimum salary entering arbitration. So his surplus trade value is $5 million.
This is considerably less than the $17 million I found it to be this past offseason in a guest post I wrote for Bleacher Nation. At the time, to keep things simple, I used Oliver. I can't remember why exactly. Maybe it was the first available. Maybe I had just re-upped my subscription and wanted to use it. I don't know, but I do know that we later found the average WAR for the projections was 3.0. Had I waited a couple months to write the article for Brett, I'd have used the projections Berselius combined in that post. As a result, the trade value entering the season wasn't anywhere close to $17 million.
A surplus trade value of $5 million will get a Grade B hitter. The idea of the Cubs getting multiple top prospects for Garza was always a stretch and it's even more a stretch now. This begs the question: should the Cubs just re-sign him?
Well, I don't know that answer. I don't think the Cubs do either. When are they going to contend? Things don't look good for the next few years. At that point Garza will be well past his prime and it's not like he's going to increase his trade value while earning more money than he currently does. I see no point in re-signing Garza. A Grade B prospect isn't at all a bad prospect. Entering the season Mike Olt was a strong B prospect according to Sickels. DJ wondered if we might get him for Ryan Dempster. I suppose it's a possible return for Garza, but I'd be surprised if the Cubs can get someone quite that good.
Olt was the 65th ranked prospect by Sickels so if you want an idea what the Cubs might get look around that spot in the rankings. The 109th ranked prospect, Javier Baez, was a Grade B entering the season.