Given the significant compensation required to sign the likes of Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez, who will each cost the team that eventually signs them a first round pick, it isn’t terribly surprising to see each of them still on the market even in the middle of the month of January. There haven’t been too many teams attached to either, and it remains to be seen when things will get serious for the two of them.
More surprising is the fact that free agent starter Matt Garza still remains without a deal even at this point in the offseason. Garza represents, arguably, the most upside of the three, and just turned 30 toward the end of the calendar year. In addition to what he brings to the mix, both on the mound in terms of his stuff, and in the clubhouse, he doesn’t require draft pick compensation for the team that wishes to sign him.
It’s difficult to discern just what is keeping Garza out on the market so long. The availability of Masahiro Tanaka certainly plays a part, as teams in need of pitching may consider themselves still in the running. Garza’s health history in the last couple of seasons may come into the equation as well, in addition to his tendency to allow his emotions to get the best of him when he’s out on the bump.
But perhaps the largest indication of why he’s still out on the market may have to do with his contract. On a thin free agent market, there’s no doubt that he’s going to take home a huge chunk of change. For prospective teams, it isn’t so much the money that he’s asking, which is believed to be somewhere in the upwards of $18-20 million per year. The larger issue for interested parties is the fact that he’s asking for four or five years.
It’s the years on a deal that is likely preventing him from potentially finding a home. There have been reports that the Twins, even with their pitching additions this winter, are willing to meet his asking price on the dollars, but not the years. For a guy who has had some injury issues of late, particularly with his elbow (which may be attributed to increased slider usage since his transition to the National League), you could understand why teams aren’t eager to lock him up for the long term.
It’ll be interesting to see what type of contract Matt Garza does eventually take home. He’s going to get a contract, it’s just a matter of when it takes place and where he lands. Once Tanaka signs, it may not be long before we see Matt Garza follow up with a deal rather quickly.