Matt Garza's contract has 'complex' option

Ronald Martinez

Garza's four-year deal with the Brewers contains a complex option that could vest in 2018.

Matt Garza's four-year contract with the Milwaukee Brewers contains a complex fifth-year option for 2018, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

The deal, which will pay Garza $12.5 million each year from 2014-2017, also comes with a $5 million opt-out for 2018, which could drop to as low as $1 million if Garza spends 130 days on the disabled list. However, the contract also contains a $13 million vesting option that kicks in if the right-hander is able to start 110 games during the life of the contract, avoid the DL at the end of the 2017 regular season and reach 115 innings pitched in 2017.

News of the Garza signing broke over the weekend and became official Monday afternoon. The 30-year-old Garza has been a consistent, if injury-prone, starter throughout his career, tallying a 3.82 ERA and a 3.2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 155⅓ innings pitched for the Cubs and Rangers last season. He has been unable to reach the 200 innings threshold for three straight years and missed six weeks of the 2013 season with a muscle strain. Garza also spent significant time on the DL in 2012 after suffering a stress reaction in his elbow, an ailment that kept him out for the entire second half.

Neverthless, Garza could be a big upgrade for a Brewers starting rotation that proved thin in 2013. Milwaukee's rotation finished last season with a 4.20 staff ERA -- fifth-worst in the NL -- as Yovani Gallardo struggled and the team's back-end starters were also inconsistent.

With Garza now in the mix, though, the Brewers' rotation depth looks much improved for 2014. If Gallardo can regain his previous form and Marco Estrada can build on his 2013 success, Milwaukee should have four solid starters when factoring in Garza and Kyle Lohse.

The Garza signing represents the second straight winter in which the Brewers have agreed to terms with a starting pitcher late in the offseason. Last March, the Brewers inked Lohse to a 3-year, $33 million contract, but did have to give up a draft pick as compensation in the process. They won't have do that with Garza, as the right-hander was traded prior to the 2013 deadline, making him and his contract an even more attractive proposition.

With Garza signed, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana are the top starting pitchers remaining on the free-agent market, but unlike Garza, both have a draft pick attached to them.

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