It is not official, but reports suggest the Milwaukee Brewers are close to signing free agent pitcher Matt Garza to a four-year, $52 million contract. The money is way below what many expect for Garza given that he may be the best free agent pitcher available and he did not require the signing team to forfeit a first-round draft pick.
There are still hold-ups with the deal, however. The Brewers announced on their Twitter account they did not have a deal in place for Garza, but talks were ongoing.
Despite media reports, negotiations between the #Brewers and Matt Garza are ongoing, but there is no deal yet.
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) January 24, 2014
Adam McCalvy, the Brewers beat reporter for MLB.com, says the holdup in the deal is not medical related.
Now I’m hearing the holdup on Garza is not related to medical concerns. It’s just taking time to wrap up the deal. Stay tuned.
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) January 24, 2014
In short, it looks like there are some I’s to be dotted and T’s to be crossed, but Garza is probably going to be a Brewer sometime in the near future.
What this means is that, with Ubaldo Jimenez and Bronson Arroyo, Ervin Santana‘s market just got one team smaller. And because Jimenez and Santana carry the weight of a lost first round pick, it is possible Bronson Arroyo may be the next starting pitcher to sign.
For example, the Minnesota Twins are said to still be in the market for another starting pitcher. But because Jimenez and Santana would cost the Twins a first round pick, it is more likely the Twins will attempt to sign Arroyo or spend the money on a bat.
The Twins are not alone in passing on Santana. Other pitching needy teams like the Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, and Chicago Cubs have also been reported to not have interest in Santana. So who exactly does have interest in Santana? Right now the list of teams appears to be three.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Toronto is in the market for two starting pitchers, and the reports are that they plan to sign one starter and trade for another. The Blue Jays are said to be involved in the Jeff Samardjiza talks with the Cubs, but nothing has come of that so far. With Tanaka off the board maybe those talks resurface.
What benefits Santana and Jimenez here is that the Blue Jays first round picks are protected by the collective bargaining agreement because one of them is in the top 10 and the other is a compensation pick for not being able to sign their first round pick last year. As a result, Toronto will only have to give up a second round pick if they sign Santana or Jimenez.
If Santana doesn’t end up in Toronto then things get really dicey.
Like just about everybody, Arizona was reported to have been heavily involved in the Masahiro Tanaka talks. Their failure to land him puts them back on the market for a free agent starting pitcher. They were connected to Santana before the winter meetings, but there has been little talk about their interest since then.
Seattle is looking for another pitcher for their rotation, and were once thought to be heavily involved in trying to trade for Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price. However, it is looking like the Rays are going to keep Price for at least the first three months of the season. As a result, it appears the Mariners will have to go to free agency if they want to add another arm.
However, that doesn’t mean the Mariners are going to go big for a starting pitcher. The only name connected to the Mariners right now is free agent starting pitcher Scott Baker. This should give you some kind of idea of what level of pitcher the Mariners are looking for right now. Unless the starter they are obtaining is Price, the Mariners have no need to spend big on someone like Santana or Jimenez given the plethora of young starting pitching they have coming up through the minors.
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) January 19, 2014
When people say that the Santana market is down to two teams, they are generally referring to the rumor that came about before the winter meetings that linked the Diamondbacks and Tigers to Santana as the top two suitors.
— Shane Miller (@ShaneMiller27) December 16, 2013
Why the Tigers would be interested in Santana at this stage is unknown. Their rotation seems set with Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, Rick Porcello, and Drew Smyly. Detroit is also looking to save some cash so they can make an attempt to re-sign Scherzer and Miguel Cabrera in the next two years. Why then would Detroit spend $40-$50 million on Santana to be their fourth or fifth starter when they need that money for keeping Scherzer and Cabrera?
Still, this is a team people are pointing to as a potential landing spot for Santana.
No one had Garza going to the Brewers before this week, and no one had Garza signing for barely over $50 million. A lot can change and develop over the course of a week. Maybe the Mets decide to sign Santana to make up for losing Matt Harvey for most of this season.
Maybe Miami throws big money at Santana to try to appease Giancarlo Stanton.
Maybe Los Angeles Angels bring him back.
Maybe Cincinnati feels it needs another arm to compete with St. Louis?
There is so much still available out there in free agency that motivations could still change drastically. Especially if it means Santana is going to have to come down from the $60 million number he was floating around before Garza signed. We still have a very long way to go.