Matt Garza's contract with the Brewers has been a confusing one, going back to the day he signed. It was a maze of "if...then" statements based on his health and games started over the course of the four guaranteed seasons, all building up to a vesting option for 2018 that ended up being impossible to vest by the time this year rolled around.
One aspect that was believed to be true from the start was that if the 2018 option didn't automatically vest, it would be converted into a $5 million team option, potentially giving the Brewers a cheap option for next year even if (when) Garza didn't perform well this year.
Well, according to Adam McCalvy, it turns out even that had a condition attached to it, and he may be in his final two days in a Brewers uniform:
Contrary to years of reporting, Matt Garza's contract does not have '18 club option. That was voided after he crossed a threshold of games.— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) September 30, 2017
While this probably comes as good news for some -- even those who advocated picking up the supposed $5 million option weren't especially excited about it -- it also changes the perception of what the Brewers need to do in the upcoming offseason.
Without Garza as a fallback, finding a starting pitching piece may now become a priority for the team this winter -- especially if the organization is starting to seriously weigh keeping Josh Hader in the bullpen long-term. The Brewers have been able to get past much of the past month with only three true starting pitchers, but that's not much of a realistic strategy over a 162-game season. While the Brewers do have some remaining internal options to fill some spots until Jimmy Nelson (hopefully) returns sometime in the second half of 2018, Nelson is no sure thing when/if he returns, and the organization may hope to replace the veterany-ness that they valued in Garza this year by looking into the free agent market.
Barring an appearance this weekend in St. Louis, Garza will finish the 2017 season with a 4.94 ERA/4.90 FIP in 114.2 innings with a WHIP of 1.448 and just 79 strikeouts.
During his 4-year stint in Milwaukee, Garza put up a 4.65 ERA/4.38 FIP in 528.1 innings, with a K/9 of just 6.5 and a BB/9 of 3.2. For $50 million, the Brewers got -0.8 bWAR/5.5 fWAR/0 WARP.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference, Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus