You can almost forgive the Toronto Blue Jays for bowing out of the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes. When negotiations for a pitcher that has never thrown a pitch on this side of the ocean reach 7-years, $155 million, you can understand the need to move as far away from stupidity as possible.
But what is the excuse going to be for Matt Garza?
As reported by Ken Rosenthal, the Milwaukee Brewers (yes, the forever stingy Milwaukee Brewers) signed Garza on Thursday, inking the free agent right-hander to a 4-year, $52 million deal.
Source: Garza in agreement with #Brewers, four years, $52M, pending physical.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 23, 2014
Now, that sounds like a pretty reasonable contract given this market. $13 million a season, stuck inside the Blue Jays preferred window of under five seasons, and without the burden of draft pick compensation. That’s not a deal, that’s a steal!
So why not the Blue Jays? Garza would seemingly fit well into their contract stipulations, and his experience in the AL East would generally be seen as a plus in Garza’s book. However, Garza’s time in Chicago likely helped sway him to the Brewers, with his National League splits favoring a return to the land where pitchers hit. Of course, Mike Wilner offers some insight into that as well.
— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness590) January 23, 2014
However, it is worth noting that while it looks like the Blue Jays let another slip away, that Garza wasn’t likely a primary target anyway, and his signing may help the Blue Jays in the long-run. As noted by Jeff Passan in the following tweet, Garza’s deal helps ower the bar for both Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana.
Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez cannot be happy that Matt Garza got just $52M over four years without draft-pick compensation attached.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 23, 2014
Passan follows that up by noting that Santana in particular was still looking for a 4-year, $60 million deal as late as last week. By having Garza settle for under that, without having the signing team surrender a pick, may limit both Santana and Jimenez from holding their ground higher, especially knowing that both will net a return pick from the signing team.
Now, Toronto doesn’t have carry as much of a burden in that regard. Both of the Blue Jays picks in the first round are protected, meaning the most they surrender is a second round selection if they signed either Jimenez or Santana. If they can get a deal to fall into the 4-year, $55-$58 million range, that will certainly reward the team’s patience this winter.
Of course, that still means they have to fend off the other teams spurned in the Tanaka talks, if any are as willing to take the plunge into the remaining free agents. That also puts some onus on the Blue Jays to show their hand at this point. If they do or don’t plan on any upgrades, then at least we’ll know in the coming days.
Then we can put some closure on the winter and begin the preparation for next season.