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SAN FRANCISCO – Our offseason “pros and cons” series continues with a look at perhaps the best stuff guy among free-agent starting pitchers, right-hander Matt Garza.
Should the Giants target Garza? Let’s weigh the pros and cons:
Although he had a 4.38 ERA in 13 starts following a trade from the Cubs to the Rangers, there’s a lot to like about Garza on the mound. He averaged nearly eight strikeouts per nine innings and had a 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He’s always a threat to throw a no-hitter. In terms of raw stuff, he stands out among a free-agent crop of starters that has decent depth but few high-ceiling arms.
Garza missed most of the second half in 2012 with a stress reaction in his elbow and he pulled a muscle in his side that kept him out of the rotation for a few weeks this past season. His medicals reportedly check out, but Garza hasn’t thrown 200 innings in a season since 2010 (he hit 198 in 2011, though) and he isn’t the best bet for a Giants rotation that needs bankable innings.
Garza won’t require a compensatory draft pick. By rule, the Rangers couldn’t extend him a qualifying offer because they traded for him midseason. Also, Garza is a Fresno native and the idea of pitching for the Giants appeals to him.
A hometown discount might only go so far. Garza will have many suitors, and he’ll get at least a four-year deal if not five. That won’t be a great fit for the Giants, who would prefer a shorter term to bridge the gap while they develop several intriguing arms in the low minors.
Garza is a fiery competitor who certainly wouldn’t become complacent if he signed a long-term deal.
Garza can’t always control that fire, turning into a mini Carlos Zambrano on a few occasions – notably when he entered into a Twitter spat with Eric Sogard of the A’s (and Sogard’s wife, Kaycee) last season. The takeaway: some people just need to stay off Twitter.
The Giants already have a load committed to Matt Cain and now Tim Lincecum, as well as Buster Posey. Signing another pitcher to a Zito-type contract would severely restrict their flexibility to make other moves – especially if said pitcher ends up doing them no good on the disabled list. Pass.
Garza holds out for a fifth year and gets it from the Angels (along with $80 million of Arte Moreno’s money).