Pittsburgh Pirates free agent target profile: Jaime Garcia

The hot stove is still very cool this winter, especially where the Pittsburgh Pirates are concerned, but the Bucs do find themselves linked to a left-handed starting pitcher.

According to Juan Manuel Moreno of La Prensa in Mexico, the Pirates are showing interest in free agent starter Jaime Garcia.

Pirates fans should be very familiar with Garcia, mostly from his eight-year stint with the St. Louis Cardinals where he went 62-45 with a 3.57 ERA from 2008-16.

On the surface, the interest doesn’t make a ton of sense, but if you look at all of the free agent starters available, I had Garcia at the top of the list of starting pitchers the Bucs would target given their history and financial constraints.

Profile and Performance

Garcia has fought injuries, which would make him affordable for the Pirates.

He missed much of the 2013 and 2014 seasons due to injuries, but came back to have a very nice 2015 campaign with the Cards where he went 10-6 with a 2.43 ERA.

It’s been downhill since then for the veteran as he posted a 4.67 in 2016 in St. Louis and a 4.41 ERA last season combined with the Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees.

His career splits look nice.

But you can see how the number have risen dramatically in 2016.

And also last season.

The 31-year old was drafted in the 30th round of the 2004 draft by the Baltimore Orioles.

Career-to-date snapshot

The case for Garcia

  • Adding a veteran left-hander to the Pirates rotation makes some sense on paper. It would be nice to give the opposition a different look from time-to-time opposed to an all right-handed rotation.
  • He’s the type of guy the Pirates target and hope Ray Searage can get the maximum production out of. That always hasn’t been the case lately with reclamation projects, but that is precisely what the Pirates would be thinking.
  • He will be affordable, which is what the Pirates will target the most. There’s always a job in baseball for number four and five starters and those guys make close to $10 million per season. Expect Garcia to sign a two-year deal in the $16-20 million range.

The case against Garcia

  • This doesn’t make much sense on paper for the Pirates. The days of reclamation projects needs to be over. Bringing in a struggling pitcher hoping to turn him around for a season just doesn’t make sense for a team that wants to compete. If there is one area on the team that doesn’t need a minor upgrade it is the starting rotation. If the Pirates add to the rotation, it should be in the form of a top of the rotation starting pitcher and that isn’t going to happen. Adding Garcia does little to make the team better.
  • It’s all about money. If the Pirates sign Garcia, that’s money that won’t be spent elsewhere on needed upgrades at third base, the bench and in the bullpen.
  • I’d much rather see Trevor Williams and Chad Kuhl be given a chance at taking the next step than bring in a guy who had a 4.67 ERA and 3.77 xFIP and xFIP in 2016, and 4.41 and 4.18 in 2017.  He’s also walked a lot more batters the past two seasons than he has in the past.

What it might take

As mentioned earlier, expect Garcia to sign a two-year deal for between $7-10 million annually. That’s wasted money if you are the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Conclusion

I know the Pirates want to do something, but this move makes little sense on paper.

Unless the goal is mediocrity.

Bringing in Garcia would be just another one of the Pittsburgh Pirates long list of moves lately that adds a body to the clubhouse without improving the team.

Matt Shetler

Matt is a life long Pirates fan with both a newspaper and radio background. Before coming to Pirates Breakdown he was most recently the co-owner and lead columnist for Pittsburgh Sporting News. He has been a credentialed writer for all four major sports and also has written for plenty of other sports and fantasy sports websites.