In the offseason of 2014, the Milwaukee Brewers agreed to pay Matt Garza 12.5 million dollars over four years.
By the end of 2015, the Milwaukee Brewers regretted agreeing to pay Garza 12.5 million dollars over four years. But what went wrong? They signed a 30 year old who never had an ERA over four when starting 10 or more games.
Starting in year two of that deal and forward, Garza did not perform. It is that simple. His ERA never came back under 4.50. Now, it is a frequently written sentiment here at Reviewing the Brew to avoid a Matt Garza situation.
How Bad Was the Contract?
Hindsight is 20/20, but at the time this really was not a bad contract. In different uniforms Garza was a very productive starting pitcher. Believe it or not his overall career WAR sits at 14. It is almost 15 without his time in Milwaukee.
Besides Ricky Nolaso, who made $250,000 less a year than Garza on his 2014 deal, the next highest deal was Jason Vargas. So the spending on Garza to get a starter was not the wrong call in 2014.
What Went Wrong?
In 2017, that is an awful contract. But we only know that after seeing him pitch. What went wrong is that after the first year, Garza declined in the worst way. It could be seen a little in 2014. But prior to signing the deal, there were absolutely no signs of what was to come.
That can not be faulted to the front office though. They made a very good call. Prior to signing with the Milwaukee Brewers, Garza had one season with a K/9 under 7. He never surpassed seven in four years. That kind of thing cannot be guessed for a 29 year old.
Sometimes bad contracts happen through no fault of the team. Players can randomly forget how to do what they get paid to. It is an unfortunate part of the business. This contract should not invoke fear for other contracts like it.
Now, paying Jake Arrieta $200 million, or whatever Scott Boras is asking now, to do his best impression of Garza is not smart. There are a ton of warning signs with him already. That is the difference.
The offseason is starting slow. However, the more information is released, the more I am willing to call this offseason a success for the Milwaukee Brewers. So far, they are not signing four year deals. But, no Matt Garza’s in 2018.