Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago reports that the rumored deal between the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs has been completed and will send Matt Garza and Fernando Perez as well as a minor league pitcher to the Cubs in exchange for top Cubs prospects Chris Archer, Brandon Guyer, Robinson Chirinos, Hak-Ju Lee and Sam Fuld.
The Rays have been actively shopping Garza to make room for Jeremy Hellickson in the rotation. Garza, with three remaining seasons of arbitration eligibility would become perilously expensive in the near term for a team vowing to trim in the immediate future. In addition to Hellickson, the Rays have David Price, James Shields, Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann in their rotation, making Garza somewhat superfluous.
Especially when they could retain Shields for 2011 at likely a lower price tag ($4.25 million) than Garza would have commanded in arbitration. Shields' subsequent contract options from 2012-14 made him a less expensive option for the club. Garza made $3.35 million in 2011, and could easily expect between $5 and 6 million in arbitration this offseason.
Last season, Garza made 32 starts and posted a 15-10 record. His ERA was 3.91, but showed decline in almost every peripheral measure of pitching performance, except walks per nine innings. Garza's control improved at the cost of more hits and fewer strikeouts. Wrigley may also make him more susceptible to the long ball, which has been a weak spot.
The Cubs also add the Rays loquacious outfielder. Perez spent all of 2010 at AAA Durham. He batted an anemic .223/.280/.299 in 426 plate appearances in his age 27 season.
In exchange, the Rays get three of the Cubs top ten prospects (per Baseball America) including Archer, who was deemed the top prospect in the organization. Archer spent in Daytona in the Florida State League and Tennessee of the Southern League putting up a 15-3 record with a 2.34 ERA and excellent peripherals.
Lee was the Cubs fourth best prospect according to BA. Lee has only advanced up to Peoria of the Midwest League, but shows excellent tools and defensive ability at shortstop. With Starlin Castro entrenched and only seven and a half months older than Lee, he was effectively blocked in Chicago.
Guyer was ranked number 10 and considered the best defensive outfielder in the Cubs system. His offensive numbers in Tennessee were quite good. He batted .344/.398/.544 in 410 AA plate appearances in 2010.
Chirinos has spent 10 seasons in the Cubs system. As he has gotten old for the leagues he has played in, his hitting has improved, but despite steadily increasing OPS numbers, he still owns a career batting line of .260/.350/.422 in 3396 plate appearances. Fuld is also long term organizational fodder in the Cubs system. His solid OBP numbers are similar to the skillset Chirinos possesses, but his upside is equally minimal. He has split time between Chicago and AAA Iowa in three of the last four seasons, but has yet to stick at the big-league level.
Joe Tetreault is Managing Editor of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball
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