The names of the players/prospects the Washington Nationals would have been willing to part with in a deal for Tampa Bay Rays' right-hander Matt Garza haven't been made public, though they'd likely be the same ones that were bandied about when the Kansas City Royals showed interest in what D.C. GM Mike Rizzo was offering before Zack Greinke blocked a deal to the Nats, but there have been rumors of interest in Garza on the Nationals' part stretching back to the last Trade Deadline which continued up to the time he was dealt.
Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore noted yesterday in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "Could the Nationals have trumped the Cubs' offer for Matt Garza? Probably not.", that it was, "not known how much engagement [the Nationals] had with the Rays," about the 27-year-old '05 Twins' 1st Round pick, but had they made a deal, the players, (Danny Espinosa, Derek Norris and Jordan Zimmermann) that Baseball America's Jim Callis said would be the equivalent of what the Cubs sent to the Rays for Garza, would have had folks questioning whether or not the Nats' GM had mortgaged his team's future for a pitcher who didn't put them into immediate contention as many are now saying the Cubs have.
The Cubs sent the top pitching prospect (and no.1 overall prospect in the Cubs' system) 22-year-old right-hander Chris Archer, the fourth overall prospect, 20-year-old SS Hak-Ju Lee, 29-year-old (fourth)-outfielder Sam Fuld, soon-to-be-25-year-old outfielder Brandon Guyer, the 10th best prospect from Baseball America's Jim Callis' most recent list of the top players in the Cubs' system and their top defensive catcher according to Mr. Callis, Robinson Chirinos, to the Rays to get Garza.
MLB.com writer T.R. Sullivan, in a post entitled, "Rangers tried to get Garza and almost did", reported Saturday that the, "the Rays were close to doing business with the Rangers, but told the Cubs they could get Garza if they included Archer in the deal," which they did. Mr. Sullivan also says MLB.com's Peter Gammons told him about the package the Texas Rangers were willing to put together for the Rays, which included the same catcher the Rays got, Robinson Chirinos, the Cubs' catcher the Rangers tried to trade for and include in the deal, their own 24-year-old left-hander Derek Holland, who was the 31st best prospect in baseball before his MLB debut in 2009, Frank Francisco, Texas' 31-year-old K-recording reliever and 21-year-old outfielder Engel Beltre, the top outfielder on Baseball America's Aaron Fitt's most-recent list of the Rangers' top prospects.
The appeal of Garza, for the Nats, was that at 27 he was under control and relatively affordable for the next three years, so that he would have been around for the 2012-13 window in which the Nats' anticipate fielding a competitive team, and that's without the sort of blockbuster extension they reportedly offered Zack Greinke to entice him to waive his no trade clause and accept a deal to D.C. Having failed to add the top of the rotation arm they'd sought all winter, (ed. note - "Why does everyone keep mentioning Fausto Carmona at this point in their articles?"), the Nationals, as Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell pointed out in a recent article and MASNSports.com's Ben Goessling and Federal Baseball reader dcRoach have deduced, figure to have a lower payroll than last year's $66,275,000 total.
All the payroll talk reminded me of an October '09 Washington Post article by then Nats beat writer Chico Harlan entitled, "The Stanifesto" in which the then-team President Stan Kasten told the gathered media and fans that he never liked talking to people who asked about payroll because, "...you really don't care. You think you care. I know you don't care. And here's why: You don't care about payroll." Mr. Kasten explained:
"Do you want last year's -- I won't name the teams in the American League that had payrolls all over $100 million that ended up last -- do you want those $100 million teams? Or do you want the $40 million team from Tampa that went to the World Series? OK. You don't care about payroll. What you care about is your team. Payroll is not a guarantee of success, and it is not an excuse for losing. So don't be distracted by it, no matter how much the media wants you to be distracted by it. OK?"
Don't be distracted. Though, in the days before Stan Kasten announced he'd be ending his relationship with the Washington Nationals, Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell wrote in an article entitled, "As Nats embark on next journey, will Stan Kasten be on board?", that though, "Kasten has never publicly said the Nats should increase payroll or be aggressive in free agency. Now, he's changed his tune,":
"'This is the time to act,' he said this week. 'We are close. This is how it felt in Atlanta just before we turned it around. Once you've laid the groundwork and improved the farm system, you need to add some pieces. That's where we are now.'"
Mr. Boswell wondered aloud whether the Nats taking a, "...decisive step toward the kind of $85 million budget that mid-market teams in new parks typically can afford," would convince Kasten to stay around to see the team he'd helped build turn into a contender, but the next day the question would be answered with Mr. Kasten announcing that he would be leaving the nation's capital. The Nationals were willing to spend the money their former team president suggested they should, but as it turns out they couldn't because they couldn't find anyone other than Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche (and Matt Stairs, Chien-Ming Wang, Rick Ankiel, etc.) willing to take it.