Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dodgers have interest in Cubs' RHPs Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster

I wasn't intending to write a post about the Dodgers' interest in Ryan Dempster, but it goes hand-in-hand with the Dodgers' reported interest in Matt Garza.

Nathan Eovaldi has filled in admirably in the absence of Ted Lilly. There's no timetable for his return.

Everyone behind Clayton Kershaw is no better than a middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, but are guys like Garza and Dempster that much better than who the Dodgers have right now?

If the Dodgers are going to their resources to acquire talent, they should at least focus on acquiring some offense before another pitcher.

Matt Garza

Garza, 28, is one of the more underrated pitchers in the National League and is a free agent after the 2013 season. He's making $9.5 million this season and gets innings pitched bonuses for 210 ($50,000) and 220 innings ($100,000), meaning he could make as much as $9.65 million this season.

He's never thrown more than 204 2/3 innings in a season (2010) and he's on pace for just 190 this season (assuming 32 games started).

Despite a higher ERA in 2012 (4.04 so far) than 2011 (3.32), some of his peripherals are better than last year's.

His H/9 is down from 8.5 last year to 7.4 this year. His WHIP is down from 1.26 last year (1.30 for his career entering 2012) to 1.12 this season. His BB/9, K/9 and K/BB are pretty close to last year's marks.

Garza boasts a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a low-to-mid-80s slider, a curveball and a changeup. But his best pitch is the fastball. However, he isn't throwing it nearly as much in the National League as he did in the American League.

Last season, he threw the fastball just 53.4 percent of the time (93.7 MPH). This season, he's throwing it 60.1 percent of the time (93.4 MPH). His last three seasons in Tampa Bay (2008-10), he threw it 72.2, 71.1 and 71.5 percent of the time.

I'm a proponent of pitchers using their fastball liberally, especially a fastball like Garza's. Then again, he did have one of the best seasons of his career in 2011, so who knows?

Garza will cost significantly more in prospects/young players than Dempster would, but acquiring him without signing him to a long-term deal wouldn't be a great move by the Dodgers. They'd be getting him for the rest of 2012 and 2013 at the minimum. His salary for 2013 would probably be in the neighborhood of $12-13 million.

There are definitely risks in trying to acquire Garza. The Cubs are going to want a lot in return and the Dodgers are going to have to shell out some cash to keep him around. A positive: It appears the Dodgers can offer him arbitration after the 2013 season. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement prohibits offering arbitration to players who will be free agents the following winter ... like our next pitcher.

Ryan Dempster

Dempster, on the other hand, probably wouldn't cost as much in terms of prospects, but he comes with a higher monetary price tag.

Dempster is making $14 million this season and, at age 35, will be a free agent after the season. He's having a great season so far: 2.11 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 6.7 H/9, 2.4 BB/9, 7.3 K/9, 3.00 K/BB and will probably be headed to Kansas City for the All-Star Game.

He has reinvented himself in his 30s, going from a hard-throwing fastball/slider guy with a lot of walks to a guy with good control and knows how to pitch.
  • Age 21-30: 4.7 BB/9, 7.4 K/9
  • Age 31-35: 3.3 BB/9, 8.2 K/9
That's an impressive and somewhat drastic change for a guy to make heading into his age-31 season (his best to date).

Dempster's fastball averages 89.4 MPH this season after sitting at 90.3 MPH last season. He's throwing his slider 9 percent more often this season than last -- not unexpected from an aging pitcher. He also has quality split-finger fastball.

He'd be a nice acquisition, if the Dodgers really feel they need another starter.

What would it take to get them?

Note: The Dodgers could potentially use a guy like Bryan LaHair, but I'm going to leave him out of these proposals.

This is what I'd give up to get either one.

To Chicago: Jerry Sands, Angel Sanchez, Shawn Tolleson, Allen Webster
To Los Angeles
: Garza

It might seem like a lot, but Garza would be in Dodger Blue for more than a year. The Cubs get a guy who can step into right field (moving David DeJesus to center field), one of the Dodgers' best pitching prospects in Webster, their best relief prospect in Tolleson and a young guy with potential in Sanchez.

The Cubs absolutely stacked in the minor leagues on offense with guys like Javier Baez, Brett Jackson, the recently signed Jorge Soler and the recently drafted Albert Almora, so they're probably more in the market for pitching prospects.

To Chicago: Steve Ames, John Ely, Sanchez
To Los Angeles: Dempster, cash ($2 million)

This one might be a little more realistic. Dempster isn't going to cost a ton and would likely be a rental. The Dodgers have their sights set on Cole Hamels this winter and have guys like Chris Capuano and Harang locked up through 2013. The Cubs get a guy who could replace Dempster in their rotation immediately in Ely and a young pitching prospect in Sanchez and a reliever close to the majors in Ames.


At this rate, I'd prefer the Dodgers go after Dempster than Garza. This post at Obstructed View breaks down Dempster's potential trade value.
"Top 10 hitting prospects     $36.5M
Top 11-25 hitters     $25.1
Top 26-50 hitters     $23.4
Top 51-75 hitters     $14.2
Top 76-100 hitters     $12.5
Top 10 pitching prospects     $15.2
Top 11-25 pitchers     $15.9
Top 26-50 pitchers     $15.9
Top 51-75 pitchers     $12.1
Top 76-100 pitchers     $9.8
Grade B pitchers (as graded by Sickels)     $7.3
Grade B hitters     $5.5
Grade C pitchers 22 or younger     $2.1
Grade C pitchers 23 or older     $1.5
Grade C hitters 22 or younger     $0.7
Grade C hitters 23 or older     $0.5

The bolded red line is the maximum that we should expect the Cubs to get in return if they traded Dempster today. That's using the high WAR estimate so realistically it's probably closer to the Grade B pitcher or hitter. if they wait until the deadline the Cubs may be looking at only a grade C pitcher or a couple grade C hitters."
This is assume the Cubs eat a majority of the contract. The only guys the Dodgers have who fall into that category are Zach Lee, Webster and Eovaldi. I wouldn't move any of them to acquire Dempster. However, the next line is intriguing because the Dodgers have a ton of those guys (including Lee, Webster and Eovaldi).

Since Garza is locked up through 2013, giving up some talent to get him might not be that big a deal. But if the Dodgers give up any of their top youngsters (Lee, Eovaldi, Chris Reed, Joc Pederson, Rubby De La Rosa) for Garza, I'm not sure I'd be on board. Garza's career numbers aren't that much better than Chad Billingsley's, whom he would be expected to outpitch for the No. 2 spot in the rotation.

The Dodgers could get a starter on the cheap (Dempster) and focus on acquiring a bat with their better trade chips.

Photo credit: mootown, Flickr

1 comment:

  1. cubs fan 40+years they still suck but i bleed and cry cubby blue. god help me