The popular consensus among baseball analysts - at least, the ones I follow on Twitter - is that the Rays got a great package back in return for Matt Garza: one with less certainty than the Zack Grienke trade, but with a similar total package and more upside. Considering that Zack Grienke is by far the better pitcher of the two, the Rays got a great return for Garza's value (which, I might add, a plurality of you predicted). Combine that return value with the benefits of starting Jeremy Hellickson in the rotation and being able to afford a DH, and the Rays improved their team yesterday.
If you prefer, we can also think about this trade another way. Back in October when we were starting to envision a Garza trade, PGP took a look at Garza's trade value. He concluded that Garza was at worst around $21M in return value - essentially, one top 50 positional prospect. While I haven't been able to find any top 50 lists for this season, John Sickles ranked Hak-Ju Lee the forty-first best positional prospect in baseball last year, right near Jose Tabata and Ryan Kalish. From all reports, Lee is a slick fielding shortstop that still needs to develop his bat more, but he's fast as the wind and projects as a contact hitter. He's still years away from the majors, but he's a high-end positional prospect at a key defensive position. He's not worth the full $21M in value, but he's darn close.
But then, Lee isn't even the best piece in the trade: that's Chris Archer, the fireballing righty that was ranked around the third or fourth best prospect in the Cubs' system. Archer had a breakout year in 2010, and he's dramatically changed his game from a few seasons ago. He's added more velocity to his fastball (it sits around 92-93 MPH, and can get up to 96-98), and he's using a power slider more often. Archer also has a third offering - a change-up - that isn't as good as his top two pitches, but is good enough to keep hitters off-balance. The one thing holding him back is his control, and in the past the Rays have shown great success in helping pitchers improve their command. Archer
will could start in Triple-A and has high upside; combine him with Lee, and the Rays already got a very fair value for Matt Garza.
But then, that's not even considering the remaining three players the Rays got in the deal: Brandon Guyer, Robinson Chirinos, and Sam Fuld. While none of these players are top prospects, they will all likely contribute to the Rays at the major league level in under a year. Guyer is an outfielder that flashes a combination of power and speed, and likely profiles as a fourth outfielder / platoon player with some upside. Chirinos is a middle infielder that's been converted to catcher, and from all reports he can field both positions well. He's got an impressive bat (.437 wOBA in Triple-A last season) and has a good chance of making the Rays out of Spring Training. Sam Fuld has already reached the majors as a back-up outfielder, and he has the potential to be a fan favorite. He attended Stanford, he interned at STATS, Inc, and he's an open saberist. He also has a good chance of making the Rays out of Spring Training, and while he won't light the world on fire, I'm happy we got a quirky player back after losing Fernando Perez.
Don't believe me on all of this? There are tons of good articles out there on the Garza trade: notably one's from R.J. Anderson, Tommy Rancel, Jason Collette, Frankie Piliere, and Dave Cameron. There are a million different ways to interpret this trade and break it down, but no matter how you look at it, the Rays got quite a haul. Start getting used to these new names - odds are, you're going to be seeing a lot of them.