Washington Nationals Rumors: Could Team Be Dark Horse for Matt Garza?

By Nick Comando
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals now have one rotation spot open after their acquisition of Doug Fister, and have now addressed about 90 percent GM Mike Rizzo‘s winter checklist. They added a left-handed outfield bat off the bench in Nate McLouth, and also added the ever elusive left-handed reliever in Jerry Blevins.

With all of their young pitching depth with the likes of Taylor Jordan and Tanner Roark, along with Ross Detwiler, it would seem that Washington is more or less finished with their offseason shopping, right?

Not so fast, actually. Reports surfaced earlier this week regarding Jordan Zimmermann and the likelihood of Washington him if the team is unable to come to a contract agreement within the next season, as Zimmermann is due to hit free agency in 2015. Rizzo did not exactly quash the idea, but it’s definitely possible, especially based on the return the Nationals could get in a potential trade.

The issue with trading him, however, is the hit their big league rotation would receive, which is why it would be pretty safe to say that Washington could be a dark horse for one of the remaining FA pitchers on the market like Matt Garza.

Garza actually does make the most sense for Washington if you think about it. He was traded midway through 2013, thus making him ineligible for a qualifying offer, so a team that signs Garza does not give a draft pick to his last team, in this case the Texas Rangers.

Rizzo did not mind giving up a draft pick to sign Rafael Soriano last winter, but with Washington’s disappointing season and how often Rizzo has dipped into the minors of late, stockpiling draft picks is something Rizzo would rather do than giving them up for the inconsistencies of Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana, who both come with compensation.

Garza will not come cheap, and at 30, would call for at least a five- or six-year deal, but he is a proven pitcher with a good arm and has not had any major arm-related problems in his career. In part of three seasons with the Chicago Cubs, Garza was 21-18 with a 3.45 ERA and 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings. He has pitched well wherever he has gone and could provide some solid value over the life of a long-term deal.

Plus, plugging Garza into the back end of Washington’s rotation could give the Nationals the best rotation in the league hands-down. Garza would not come cheap, but the Nationals could definitely be a logical fit for his services.

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