Tampa Bay didn’t need to trade Matt Garza this off-season, but when presented with the chance to clear payroll and bolster their farm system with a good amount of talent the Rays jumped at the opportunity. Today they completed a deal with the Chicago Cubs to send Matt Garza and outfielder Fernando Perez to the Windy City in exchange for top pitching prospect Christopher Archer, outfielder Brandon Guyer, slugger Robinson Chirinos, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, and outfielder Sam Fuld.
If Carlos Zambrano shows that his second half of the 2010 season wasn’t a fluke (8-0, 1.58 ERA), Garza will likely slot into the third spot in the rotation behind Ryan Dempster. Garza isn’t a true #2 starter, but he should be a very good #3 for the Cubs. The Cubs will also have Garza under team control for three seasons, unless an extension is worked out.
Perez is a fourth or fifth outfielder type that has historically put up good statistics in the minors. In the three seasons that he had over 500 plate appearances in the minors, Perez has averaged 44 stolen bases each season. Although he lacks power, Perez has shown the ability to draw a walk.
The key to the deal for the Rays is pitcher Chris Archer. Archer busted out this season to record a 15-3 record with a 2.34 ERA in his time between High-A and Double-A levels. Baseball-Fever.com has a scouting report on Archer from when he was traded to the Cubs from the Indians in the Mark DeRosa deal. It agrees with other reports that he has two plus pitches in his low-to-mid 90s fastball and a hard-cutting curve. The scouting report notes that the development of his circle-change has gone well. Right now wildness is the biggest concern regarding Archer. If he can’t cut down his walk rate, a move to the pen may be in order.
Hak-Ju Lee may be the second-best prospect in the deal. The slick-fielding shortstop is known more for his glove than his bat. He has shown decent hitting ability for his young age, but his bat still has a long way to go before it is ready. The wiry Lee is also an efficient base stealer. Fanhouse has a full scouting report on him.
Brandon Guyer put up some nice numbers in the minors last season (.344/.398/.588, 13HR, 30SB in 410PA at AA). However projections for Guyer show that he won’t be much more than a fourth outfielder.
Rounding out the prospects is Robinson Chirinos an infielder that has been converted into a catcher. Chirinos is probably the least celebrated of the prospects, but he’s the most intriguing to me. He may not have the upside that Archer or Lee have, but if the reports of his defensive improvement behind the plate are valid, Robinson might turn out to be a nice catch for the Rays. Wrigley Bound did a player profile on Chirinos before last season that provides a more in-depth review.
The final player in the trade, outfielder Sam Fuld, is a fourth/fifth outfielder type that has show strong walk rates in the past. Interestingly he drew 66 walks at Triple-A last season while striking out only 37 times.
It is interesting that Cubs owner Tom Ricketts has talked in the past about his desire to build from within. They have pummeled their farm system with this trade. Sure, the team still has some interesting prospects in Brett Jackson, Trey McNutt, Chris Carpenter, and Jay Jackson, but they cannot go on making these deals and efficiently build from within. Are they closer to contention than they were? Yes. But the NL Central is going to be very tough this upcoming season and they are far from the clear-cut favorite.
The Rays are stuffed with good, young arms. The loss of Garza shouldn’t hurt too much as their young staff has added some experience and the move allows Jeremy Hellickson to move into the rotation. There is also a bevy of arms behind him should injury/consistency issues arise in the rotation. Although each player acquired has issues, the upside of the players seemingly gives the Rays an edge in this trade in my book.