Dodgers 2014 Off-Season Free Agent Profile: Matt Garza

Just three weeks away from the Winter Meetings in Florida, we continue to take a look at players available this off-season that could fill a need for the Dodgers.

Today, we take a look at a starting pitcher that would slot in the fourth or fifth spot of the Dodger rotation:

Matt Garza

Garza is a 29-year-old that split time in 2013 between the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers. In his career, Garza is 67-67 with a 3.84 ERA and 1,001 strikeouts in 1,182.1 innings over eight seasons.

2013 Season

The right-hander was one of the most coveted pitchers available at the trade deadline and was sent from the Cubs to the Rangers in July. Garza finished the season 10-6 with a 3.82 ERA and 136 strikeouts in 24 starts. He succeeded more with the Cubs, as he was 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA in 11 starts before being traded.


Garza is a right-hander that would balance a rotation that has two left-handers and a fellow right-hander heading into the season. While Garza isn’t considered an ace, he would fill a role in the back end of the rotation for the Dodgers. He’s been fairly consistent in his production, finishing with an ERA between 3.30 and 4.00 in each full season of his career. Garza can be counted on to give a strong effort each start and give his team a chance to win.

The 29-year-old fared better in the NL, evidenced by his 3.45 ERA with the Cubs that’s lower than his 3.84 career ERA. Garza would be facing the NL West with the Dodgers, a league known more for its pitching rather than its hitting. The right-hander would also bring a tenacity to the team that the Dodgers would like.

He’s been accused of having a bad temper, but it is more of a strong, fiery attitude than a temper problem. The Dodgers could use another pitcher that will battle for his team and protect his lineup.

Once it comes to the postseason, Garza has had some success under the playoff pressure. He’s 2-1 with a 3.48 ERA in the postseason in his career, but was named the ALCS MVP in the 2008 playoffs. In five career playoff starts, Garza has gone at least six innings while allowing one run or less three times. That success would give the Dodgers a better feeling using four starters in a series instead of using their other starters on three days rest.


Garza isn’t a game-changing starting pitcher and will likely command that type of money. The right-hander has the potential to be an ace, but hasn’t been able to put it all together. The Dodgers may not want to pay premier pitcher money for a less-than-premier pitcher. Garza is a career .500 pitcher and has never had an ERA under 3.00 in his career.

The 29-year-old has spent time on the disabled list the past three seasons, making it a risk to sign the pitcher and expect a full season. He missed the entire second half of the 2012 season with elbow problems and missed some time last season due to a strained muscle on his left side. Any pitcher that’s had elbow problems is a high-risk and the fact that Garza could ask for a multi-year deal would make it even more risky.

Although it doesn’t play a huge role with a pitcher, Garza has had trouble fielding his position the past three seasons. The major problem has been when he’s forced to throw the ball after fielding it. Garza often sends the ball over the first baseman’s head or completely off-line and can get him into trouble. The Dodgers are used to pitchers with above-average defensive skills.

Potential Contract

Garza has been considered the top starting pitcher on the market this off-season and will likely get a multi-year deal somewhere. Last winter, Edwin Jackson received a four-year, $52 million deal with career numbers similar to Garza. Because the starting pitching pool is shallow, the 29-year-old may exceed that number this year. Garza will receive a three to five year deal worth $15-17 million a year. The number could rise depending on the contracts of fellow free agents Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ricky Nolasco.

Chances Dodgers Sign Him: 20%

The Dodgers have had their sights set on Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka this off-season but if an agreement isn’t reached between the NPB and MLB, then it could open up a spot for Garza in Los Angeles. The team has the money to afford Garza; however, health risks could cause the Dodgers to pass.

Once the Tanaka situation is figured out, the starting pitching market will begin to work itself out. Garza would fill a need for the Dodgers and give them another arm that will give them a chance to win every fifth day, when healthy.

If the Dodgers cannot sign Tanaka and do not pursue any trades, Garza could find himself back in the National League with the Dodgers.


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