At the end of the 2010 season, the Tampa Bay Rays brought young Jeremy Hellickson up from the minors, and he went 4-0 as a result. The Rays correctly decided they had something there, and so they traded one of their higher-priced starters–Matt Garza–to the Cubs. Garza was due to make just under $6 million dollars in 2011, and if a team like the Rays can afford Evan Longoria, they can’t also keep a Carl Crawford, and certainly not a Matt Garza.
In return for taking Garza and his $6 million salary, the Cubs gave up Sam Fuld, who became a starting left fielder for the Rays while earning a bit more than $400,000. They also gave up Robinson Chirinos, a catcher who, on August 4, tied a game in extra innings and then won the game the next inning. That game alone was the difference between making the playoffs and not making it last year.
The Cubs also gave up three other prospects, and even if none of them ever makes it to the majors, the Rays still saved themselves a bunch of money by dumping Garza’s salary on the Cubs. And what was Hellickson’s salary, after taking Garza’s place in the Rays’ rotation? A mere $418,000. He’s now due for a hefty raise next season, after his Rookie of the year campaign in 2011, in which he won more games and had a lower ERA than Garza did. Well done, Jim Hendry, well done.