Get used to hearing about Matt Garza a lot around here over the next couple of weeks, as he figures to be the most popular name on the market leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Fortunately for the Cubs, he has been doing his part to bolster his value recently.
While Garza gave up a season-high 10 hits last night, he managed to hold the first-place Cardinals to just two runs in 6 2/3 innings as part of a 6-4 win at Wrigley Field. The 29-year-old right-hander has now won five straight starts and holds a 1.24 ERA over his last six. His ERA is down to 3.17 for the year while he has a fine 62/20 K/BB ratio 71 innings.
Garza is set to become a free agent following the season, so he might be the most obvious candidate to be moved by the end of the month. Teams like the Indians, Red Sox, Dodgers, Nationals, Rangers, Blue Jays, and Giants have all been mentioned as possible landing spots. There has been some chatter about a potential contract extension, but the competition for his services should net the rebuilding Cubs a top prospect or two.
Your Saturday box scores:
Reds 2, Braves 5
Twins 4, Yankees 1
Blue Jays 7, Orioles 3
Nationals 1, Marlins 2 (10 innings)
Astros 3, Rays 4
Rockies 0, Dodgers 1
Royals 3, Indians 5
Mets 2, Pirates 4
Rangers 7, Tigers 1
Brewers 4, Diamondbacks 5
Red Sox 0, Athletics 3
Giants 9, Padres 0
Angels 0, Mariners 6
White Sox 5, Phillies 4 (11 innings); White Sox 1, Phillies 2 (13 innings)
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.