A handful of days ago, 1500ESPN’s Darren Wolfson reported that the Twins and right-hander Matt Garza’s representatives met at the GM meetings in Orlando in the last week.
Essentially, Garza has ‘done his homework on the Twins’ and is open to a reunion with the club who drafted him 25th overall in the 2005 MLB draft. Garza spent parts of two seasons with the Twins at the major league level, throwing on 133 innings before being traded in the Delmon Young deal in November 2007.
The Garza File
2014 Opening Day Age: 30
2013 Team: Chicago Cubs/Texas Rangers (7/22/13 trade)
2013 Stats: 10-6, 3.82/3.88/3.73 (ERA/FIP/xFIP), 8.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 1.24 WHIP.
2013 Salary: $10.25 million
Qualifying Offer: No (ineligible). No draft pick compensation tied to Garza.
2014 Projection (STEAMER): Steamer doesn’t really have a projection for Garza, oddly.
Repertoire: If memory serves right, the Twins and Garza clashed over his fastball usage patterns, which have tumbled since he left Tampa. However, those tendencies were embraced in Tampa to begin with, as the right-hander routinely threw some type of fastball 70% of the time before moving onto the National League. This past season, Garza’s primary offering of choice was a four-seamer that averaged 93.2 mph (44.7% in 2013). Had Garza thrown enough innings to qualify (he was six-and-two-thirds short), that velocity would have ranked 14th, between Max Scherzer and Justin Masterson.
Garza’s next delivery of choice is an 84.8 mph slider (24.4%). That ties with John Lackey and Rick Porcello at 19th-fastest. Next, Garza turns to a 92.6 mph two-seamer (18.9%), which is tied with Darvish as another top-20 offering speed-wise (13th). Finally, Garza will flash a curve (74.9, 8.3%) and a changeup (85.2, 3.2%). The average velocity on the changeup is the same as Clayton Kershaw (21st), and the curve was quite a ways further down the list. In terms of offspeed pitches and velocity, it’s unlikely that speed plays too much of a role anyway.
Links: Here Jeff Sullivan breaks down what adding Garza meant to the Rangers, as a non-elite but hard-throwing starter. Here, Carson Cistulli happened. Here, Cistulli and FanGraphs readers projected what a Garza contract would look like (roughly 4/$60, it appears).
Analysis: By the looks of Garza’s heat maps, it appears the right-hander is at his best when he works up and away with his fastball. Granted, he’s relied on his heat a bit less in recent seasons. Garza throws his slider much more frequently to right-handed hitters, targeting the outside corner — ideally, low — which has resulted in a 19.9% swinging strike rate and .185/.224/.300 triple-slash on the offering. His curve also gets pretty good strikeout rates (30.1% on 8.2% swinging strikes), but he has trouble locating it (strikes on just 53.6% of the curves he’s thrown in his career). Garza’s fastball is what I’d consider ‘hittable’, as he’s got an incredible sample size on it. He’s 11 heaters shy of 10,000 for his career, and hitters have hit a combined .269/.338/.425 on it with a strikeout rate of 12.7% and a whiff rate of 6.3%. Without league averages readily accessible — that I know of — that’s probably a better than average fastball output. The weighted pitch values at Fangraphs — for whatever they’re worth — seem to agree.
I have to say this much, I’m less sold on Garza now than when I prepared to dive into his numbers. The big fastball is nice, but won’t last forever. I’m not sure he’s evolved into a pitcher rather than a thrower.
Expected Financial Committment: There’s little reason to believe Garza won’t command around $15 million per year on the free agent market, if not more. That’ll likely come in excess of four years.