After not signing a free agent to major league contract all winter long, the Milwaukee Brewers came out of nowhere to steal Matt Garza on a four-year, $52 million deal.
Garza is no ace, but he’s also a very good No. 3 in some rotations and has the skill to be a No. 2 starter. Since 2007, he has kept his ERA below 4.00 every year and combines an above average strikeout rate with above average control. For $13 million a year on a four-year commitment, Garza becomes the Brewers’ best pitcher.
Contrast this signing with the Chicago Cubs‘ signing of Edwin Jackson last year. After narrowly missing out on Anibal Sanchez in free agency, the Cubs turned to Jackson, a durable pitcher who was 29 years old at the time and had shown the skill to be a No. 3 starter. Jackson did not have the polish or consistency of Garza, yet the Cubs signed him to the exact same contract the Brewers agreed to with Garza, four years and $52 million.
In a market that has seen the price of free agents go up across the board, the Brewers were able to sign a potential front of the rotation starter for just $13 million a year. This reflects both how bad the Jackson signing was for the Cubs, and how shrewd the Garza signing was for the Brewers. The Cubs already had an uphill battle to climb in the NL Central Division, but this signing cements Chicago as the early favorite for last place.