You might have missed this amongst the year end celebrations yesterday, but ESPNs Buster Olney tweeted a significant piece of news in the Matt Garza derby. He wrote:
16 hours ago via web
This is significant for a few reasons. First, its coming from the Tigers, not some Chicago-linked source who could be floating trial balloons to drive up the price. Next, if you’re not familiar with Jacob Turner, you should be. He’s the best pitching prospect in the Tigers system, was ranked #26 overall in 2010 and #21 last year by Baseball America, and he had a cup of coffee with the MLB club at the end of the season last year. So total that all up. He’s closer to the big leagues than either Banuelos or Betances and ranked higher twice than either of them has ever been.
This is not to say that the Yanks are out of the bidding by any means, and may be a necessary move for the Tigers to become serious players for Garza. After Turner, their farm system thins out dramatically. He was the only Tigers player on the BA mid season Top 50 list, where he was ranked #11. (BTW-Montero was #8, Banuelos #13 and Betances #26). But if you had any notion of getting Garza without giving up one of Montero or Banuelos, that’s no longer happening. As I detailed earlier this month, the Cubs need a 1B and have multiple holes in their rotation, a package where you give them Montero as a 1B and a few MLB ready AAA pitchers (Warren/Phelps/Noesi) could still easily beat the Tigers. Whether you want to give up a Montero for a #2 starter is something else to consider as well.
Personally, I think its a smart move by the Tigers and is the kind of move a win-now team should make. One could only hope Turner eventually becomes a pitcher like Garza, who represents a ready made best case scenario for Turner or Banuelos. Also, since Garza is under control for 3 more years, he could easily outperform Turner as he climbs the learning curve. In terms of WAR Garza should be expected to give you 10-12 WAR over the next 3 years, while Turner or Baneulos can’t be expected to match that as unproven commodities. For instance, say what you will about the Yankee handling of him, but Joba Chamberlain has amassed 7.9 WAR across 5 seasons (Fangraphs). Phil Hughes has totaled just 7.2 WAR across 6 seasons. Hanging onto prospects isn’t always a smart move, even the no-brainer types. Not if you’re a win-now team. But so far this off season, the Yanks seem to be more interested in getting to a payroll number than they are winning in 2012. But the winter isn’t over yet, so I’ll reserve judgement for now.
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