Now that the Zack Greinke trade is official, Matt Garza figures to be the most popular name brought up in trade conversations in the coming days and weeks.
Garza, who just turned 27 last month, has become a legitimate frontline starter since coming over from the Twins in November of 2007, posting a 3.86 ERA over 95 games (94 starts) with the Rays, averaging 7.1 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9. And pitching in the tough AL East, no less. The right-hander went 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA this past season and has topped 200 innings in each of the past two seasons.
The Rays have a pretty nice commodity with Garza in that he is under team control through 2013. So while he isn’t an “ace” like Greinke, he’ll still cost quite a bit in return. Garza made $3.35 million in his first time through the arbitration process last winter as a “Super Two.”
We have already heard that the Rays are motivated to trade Garza and that the team has talked about a potential deal with the Cubs. The Rangers have emerged as a potential suitor in recent days, especially after losing out on Cliff Lee. The Nationals have been involved in talks for just about every pitcher available this winter, including Garza, Lee and Greinke. No way they give up now. Judging by the way this Hot Stove has taken shape, there’s probably some surprise team I’m leaving out.
Rays VP Andrew Friedman told Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune on Friday that he wasn’t motivated to move any of his starting pitchers, though he did qualify his statement by saying he is “open minded.” That sounds like GM speak for “make me an offer.”
It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:
In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.
Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.
Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.
The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.
The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.
Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.