Matt Garza Acquisition Could Make Red Sox Favorites for American League Title

Matt GarzaThe Boston Red Sox are currently 5-1 second-favorites to win the American League pennant, trailing only the Detroit Tigers (13-4). Would a potential Red Sox trade for Chicago Cubs right-handed pitcher Matt Garza change that order?

Garza is clearly the top pitcher thought to be available on the trade market. There was news out of Chicago on Monday that perhaps the Cubs might want to sign Garza, a free agent this winter, to a long-term extension instead of dealing him. However, that’s likely just a spin put out by Theo Epstein to drive up the price on Garza. The Cubs are at least a few years from contention as Epstein rebuilds the farm system, so it makes little sense to keep the 29-year-old around. Garza missed nearly the first two months of this season injured but has been very good of late.

It’s possible Garza’s start Monday was his last in a Cubs uniform. The team waited too long to deal him last year, with Garza ending up getting injured. Chicago already has started its fire sale, trading starting pitcher Scott Feldman to Baltimore and outfielder Scott Hairston to Washington. The Feldman trade didn’t influence futures odds, with the Orioles still +400 second-favorites to win the AL East with Tampa Bay. The Sox are down to even money.

Garza certainly would alter things, and look for a prop on whether he’s dealt on Tuesday. Clearly Epstein largely knows what the Red Sox could offer; the only other organization the Cubs may know better is San Diego, where current Cubs GM Jed Hoyer used to have the same job. Hoyer was a senior vice president and assistant GM to Epstein with the Sox from 2005-09 and was Boston’s co-general manager with Ben Cherington for 44 days in 2005 when Epstein stepped away.

One big bonus to the Sox adding Garza would be his knowledge of the AL East, as Garza was 34-31 with a 3.86 ERA in his three seasons with Tampa Bay. The Sox would rather pitch Garza than face him. He is 7-4 with a 3.83 ERA in his career against Boston. He has been tremendous against the Orioles, going 9-1 with a 3.03 ERA in 12 starts. Against the Yankees, not so much. Garza is 1-4 with a 4.48 ERA versus the Bombers. Boston might have to become even more aggressive in landing a starter depending on Clay Buchholz‘s injury status.

If Sox fans are thinking potential playoff foes, Garza is 1-6 with a 4.58 ERA against the Tigers. He’s 5-3 with a 3.97 ERA against Texas. The Rangers are also potential trade partners for Chicago. They nearly landed Garza before last year’s trade deadline but wound up with Ryan Dempster instead. Landing Garza could leapfrog Texas past the Sox among AL contenders. Currently the Rangers are 6-1 to win the pennant.

Other teams interested in Garza include the Indians, Rockies, Giants, Padres, Nationals and Cardinals. And maybe the Dodgers too, even though they acquired Ricky Nolasco from the Marlins over the weekend. The Red Sox had scouted Nolasco plenty. The surging Dodgers are now +150 co-favorites to win the NL West with current leader Arizona and 6-1 to win the NL pennant.