It took the Milwaukee Brewers long enough to make some noise during free agency, but the good news is the wait was well worth it.
Fans should be ecstatic with the signing of starting pitcher Matt Garza to a reportedly four-year, $52 million deal. There’s no question bringing Garza on board instantly makes the Brewers contenders for one of the two National Wild Card spots in 2014.
The reason for the supreme confidence is because Garza will join a rotation that was among the best in baseball after the All-Star break last season. Not to mention, he will bring plenty of competition to a rotation that could feature Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse, Wily Peralta, Marco Estrada and Tyler Thornburg. Obviously, one of these five pitchers will be the odd man out with Garza joining the squad. Since Garza is such a naturally competitive player, it should rub off on the rest of the ball club, which could certainly do wonders for the team throughout the season.
The 30-year-old right-hander has struggled at times over the past few years. With that being said, he has shown the ability to get hot on the mound. More importantly, he pitched very well while playing for the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central, which means he has no problem handling the teams that Milwaukee will face the most throughout the year.
Prior to being dealt to the Texas Rangers last year, he went 6-1 with a 3.17 earned run average and 62 strikeouts in 11 starts for the Cubs. The Rangers got a different Garza after they acquired him, but the fact is he showed that he could still pitch at a high level. There’s no denying that he felt very comfortable pitching in the NL Central, which means his best years could still be ahead.
As far as the injuries are concerned, it’s true that Garza has spent time on the disabled list four times in his career. However, playing indoors at Miller Park will benefit him greatly as those injuries typically occurred in the cold. Playing inside in general will be huge for Garza, as he has never pitched well in cold weather.
Milwaukee is still trying to find an ace for their rotation. The hope was that Gallardo could fill the role, and the reality is he still could. Regardless, the Brewers are optimistic that the addition of enough second-tier pitchers with a high ceiling will give them a fighting chance in the division. Of course, that will all depend on what the offense is able to accomplish this year.
One note that should be pointed about Garza’s contract is that it’s relatively cheap. Sure, $13 million per season is a lot of money for the Brewers, but it’s nothing for a big-market team. That means that if Milwaukee goes south in the standings they can always use Garza as trade bait in which they should get something decent in return, assuming he’s pitching well.
The most important part of the signing is that the Brewers have no intention of packing up before the start of the season as many assumed they would. Milwaukee is determined to put a winner on the field, which is something the fans have to be grateful for in 2014.
Garza has a career 67-67 record with a 3.84 ERA in 194 games (191 starts).