Worst contract in Brewers history #2: Matt Garza – 4 years, $50MM
Matt Garza had quite the career. He had some decent years in Tampa and in Chicago with the Cubs, but he was never great or an ace-level pitcher. Yet that didn’t stop the Brewers from paying him like one.
The Brewers were trying to line up a rebound season in 2014 and get back into the postseason, and they needed more pitching to get there. So owner Mark Attanasio went all out and got one of the top starting pitchers on the market in Matt Garza. Garza was a highly sought after commodity at the trade deadline the summer before and was still sought after entering his age-30 season.
At the time, Garza signed the largest free agent contract in Brewers franchise history at four years and $50 million.
It did not age well.
Garza had a decent enough first season in Milwaukee, finishing with a 3.64 ERA in 27 starts as the Brewers tumbled down the stretch that year, but we don’t need to talk about that.
Then the rebuild started in 2015 and Garza’s contract became an albatross. They were stuck paying him for three more seasons at $12.5MM per year and Garza’s performance made him impossible to move. In 2015, Garza pitched to a 5.63 ERA and things did not get much better. He was removed from the rotation in September, was shut down for the season, and famously did not take it well.
In 2016, Garza missed the first two and a half months of the season with a shoulder strain. When he returned, he posted a 4.51 ERA in 19 starts.
Then came 2017, as Garza’s performance was still mediocre but the Brewers as a team were turning the corner. They were surprisingly in first place for a chunk of the season and remained in the playoff race until the final game of the year. However, that was because some of the young guns on the pitching staff were taking over.
Guys like Zach Davies, Jimmy Nelson, Chase Anderson, Brent Suter, and Brandon Woodruff were taking over the rotation and the Brewers simply didn’t want Garza in the rotation anymore. So they tried to move him to the bullpen after a rough month of August.
After a poor start against the Reds on September 5th, where he gave up five runs in 2.2 IP, the Brewers removed Garza from the rotation. He made a few appearances out of the bullpen but finished the year with a 4.94 ERA.
That was the end of Garza’s big league career.
The contract was an albatross from start to finish, and was completely immovable at a time where the Brewers were plenty willing to unload veterans for prospects, but Garza performed so horribly, they weren’t able to move him through the rebuild.