The Arizona Diamondbacks are content with their starting pitching. They are simply looking for some insurance in the bullpen. This is the case if you believe most of the news outlets and rumor sites covering the DBacks. However, the truth is Arizona needs some starting pitching help if they are going to make a run at the Giants this year and continue to stay competitive. That pitching help starts and ends with Matt Garza.
The Diamondbacks rotation as it stands right now is Ian Kennedy, Trevor Bauer, Wade Miley, Josh Collementer, and Trevor Cahill. Joe Saunders is on the disabled list and likely on his way out of Arizona altogether with Bauer’s call-up, and Daniel Hudson has been lost for the season thanks to a torn UCL and Tommy John surgery. Arizona’s team ERA ranks just 18th in the league, they’ve opponents are batting .263 against them – good enough for just 23rd in the league, and they’ve given up the tenth-most total bases. The staff needs help.
Matt Garza has been available for months now. In fact, he was originally placed on the trading block last winter when Theo Epstein agreed to come on board as the Cubs’ Vice President. Teams have shown interest, but the Cubs haven’t found anyone willing to part with the type of talent Chicago wants in return. The Diamondbacks have that type of talent, and with Garza in the rotation, they could afford to part with said talent. That talent goes by the name of Tyler Skaggs.
Prior to this seasons, Skaggs was rated the 13th best prospect in all of baseball. He will likely move up on the list now that Trevor Bauer (9th best prospect) has made his Major League debut. Skaggs was drafted 40th overall by the Los Angeles Angels in 2009. The Diamondbacks traded Dan Harren for Skaggs and Joe Saunders.
Skaggs spent the majority of this season so far at Double-A Mobile, but was recently promoted to Triple-A Reno. He’s made just one start at Reno, so his numbers there are not indicative of his true talent. However, in his minor league career spanning 69 games and 343 1/3 innings, Skaggs has a 3.07 ERA and is striking out 10.1 batters per nine innings. When a guy is striking out that many, teams can generally deal with a higher-than-ideal ERA. At 20 years old and with the numbers Skaggs has already put up, he fits the profile of exactly what the Cubs want. They are trying to rebuild their farm system and develop some home grown talent rather than blowing a lot of money on the free agent market.
The Diamondbacks can afford to give up Skaggs if, and only if, they get a pitcher like Matt Garza. Garza is young enough to where the DBacks can sign him to a long-term extension and get 4-6 years of solid work out of him. Garza isn’t a free agent until after the 2013 season, so the DBacks wouldn’t need to negotiate the contract right away either.
Garza is making $9.5 million this year and will be worth somewhere in that range, maybe higher, next season in arbitration. Garza is not too expensive for the Diamondbacks and could sign a long-term deal with them if they give him a real chance to win a World Series.
In his career, Garza is 56-60 with a 3.85 ERA. His win/loss record has very little to do with his performance. He has played on a bad team the last two years. His career ERA is 8% better than league average, and Garza figures to improve on that this year. He has struggled to start this season, posting a 4.01 ERA in 15 starts with the Cubs. Given a move to a competing club, it would surprise very few to see Garza have an impressive second half.
It’s surprising that the Diamondbacks have not been more active in seeking out starting pitching help. Their offense is coming around with the bats of Justin Upton and Ryan Roberts heating up. They need the rotation help. And imagine this rotation: Matt Garza, Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Wade Miley, Trevor Bauer. That could be the type of dominant rotation that makes the Diamondbacks a World Series favorite in 2013. They just have to pull the trigger this year.
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