Of the free agent starting pitchers available, I think the Orioles are far more likely to sign a mid/back end of the rotation arm like a Bronson Arroyo or even a Gavin Floyd. However, former GM Jim Bowden suggested a different name in his “One deal for ever AL team” column: Matt Garza.
The Move: Sign Matt Garza to a four-year, $60 million deal.
Why: The Orioles have an elite defense and an offense that was fourth in the AL in scoring runs last season. Their biggest need is a top-of-the-rotation starter. While Chris Tillman has developed into a solid No. 2 starter, and both Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy — when healthy — have the potential of someday developing into No. 1 starters, that might be too late for a nucleus that’s ready to make its World Series run now.
Therefore, the Orioles should move fast and sign Garza, who might be the top starting pitcher on the free-agent market this offseason. Timing is everything in baseball, and if owner Peter Angelos really wants a World Series title this probably is the one move that gives him the best shot of getting one. With a thin farm system and little depth on the major league roster, there’s not a lot for Baltimore to trade.
At four years, $60 million I think Garza is a great fit in Baltimore.
Despite being 37 years old at the beginning of the 2014 season, Arroyo is looking for a three-year deal. If the O’s can get Garza, who turns 30 on November 26, for four years it makes much more sense.
Garza was inconsistent with the Rangers over his 13 starts in 2013, posting a 4-5 record with a 4.38 ERA, 1.316 WHIP and 3.36 K/BB. However, in three years with the Cubs, Garza pitched to a 3.45 ERA over 60 starts with a 1.213 WHIP and 3.09 K/BB.
Perhaps the most important asset that Garza brings is his experience pitching in the American League East. He’s 7-4 with a 3.83 ERA in 18 starts against the Red Sox, 2-4 with a 4.03 ERA in 12 starts against the Yankees and 6-6 with a 2.14 ERA in 13 starts against the Blue Jays.
The Orioles are an ace away from being a serious contender. I firmly believe that. But that ace isn’t out there. Garza might be their closest option.