With the Cardinals picking up Jaime Garcia’s team-option, there are two ways he could benefit the club: pitching depth and trade value.
Jaime Garcia’s career with the Cardinals has been an interesting one to say the least. When healthy, he can be one of the better pitchers in the league. However, those times are sometimes hard to come by. He always seems to find himself on the DL with some sort of ailment or a random strain. Contrary to that feeling, he was completely and totally healthy this season. However, he still failed to perform up to expectations. The rest of the rotation did not fare much better as a whole. That lack of performance on a team level brings forth the first reason picking up his option may have not been such a bad thing.
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There is no telling what next season will bring in terms of pitching. Some pitchers may bounce back while others may not. Garcia would give depth if things go wary again.
Although Garcia under performed this year, he is very capable of a good level of success. It was only a year ago that he held a 2.43 ERA. Also, he is not old enough for his talents to completely disappear. However, the Cardinals do not need to bank on him returning to the form of a good 4 or 5 starter because they have other good options to start out with first.
We all learned from this past season that sometimes players don’t perform up to their standards all the time. Furthermore, injuries can creep up at terrible times. Keeping Garcia around could give the Cardinals a quick way to stop the bleeding if a problem occurs. Furthermore, the free agent market is extremely thin on starting pitching which means that the Cardinals will most likely not sign any starters on the market.
The free agent market offers very few starting pitchers with big league experience. The Cardinals could benefit from the scarcity by packing up Garcia for a decent return.
Left handed pitching in the MLB is one of the greatest assets any team can have. This offseason, when teams jump into the market to try to find that one lefty that will help their rotation, they will be extremely pressed to pick someone up before someone else does. There are few starters in general in the free agent market, so some teams will look to trades to fill their voids.
Jaime Garcia just happens to be a left handed pitcher with big league experience. Most importantly, he is currently on a team that is easily willing to part ways with him. A trade involving Garcia may net the Cardinals with one or two prospects depending on the teams desperation. If the Cardinals were to let Garcia walk, they would not get anything in return.
All in all, I do not think any team will come busting the Cardinal’s door down for a guy that posted a 4.67 ERA. Not to mention his shaky injury history looms large. Looking at next year’s projections however, fangraphs.com expects him to go around 180 IP for an era of 3.57. So, if the other teams project him to do that well also, then they just might want him. If teams don’t want him, then the Cardinals benefit from more depth. Either way, the Cardinals can potentially benefit from keeping Garcia around for another year.