Garland introduced in Arizona
Newest member of D-backs' staff is durable, consistent
PHOENIX -- Two weeks ago after turning down a contract offer from the D-backs, Jon Garland talked with his agent.
"Let's not get away from this. Let's keep pursuing this, because I feel I can definitely fit in well with this team [and] with this pitching staff," Garland told him.
The resulting talks led to Arizona signing the right-hander to a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2010. Garland will earn $6.25 million in 2009 and will receive an additional $2.5 million if the D-backs do not pick up his option, which is worth $10 million. If Garland declines the option, he will receive $1 million.
When the offseason started, the D-backs felt Garland would be out of their price range after he earned $12 million in 2008. But the free-agent market has been slow to develop this year, and with just a couple of weeks until the start of Spring Training, the cost of some players has come down considerably.
Ask scouts or baseball people about Garland, and they will describe him as a "reliable" and "durable" innings-eater, a result of the fact that in the past seven seasons, Garland has always thrown at least 190 innings.
"I take pride in it," said Garland, who credited the durability to hard work in the offseason and good genes. "If I go out there and I don't put up the innings, then I'm not doing my job. That's my main goal when I start the season is 200 innings. If I can get to 200 innings, I'm obviously doing something right to stay in the game."
The addition of Garland bolsters an already strong starting rotation which includes Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, Doug Davis and second-year man Max Scherzer.
Webb, Haren and Davis all have histories of throwing a lot of innings, and along with Garland, they will help limit the load the bullpen must shoulder. General manager Josh Byrnes believes that teams that receive a lot of innings from their starting rotation are often the ones left standing come October.
"We've built this team primarily around our starting pitching," Byrnes said. "We've put a lot of our resources into it, trades, financial resources, coaching and support staff. We realize that championship teams have good starting pitching, and Jon will fit right in."
Arizona manager Bob Melvin agreed.
"This was the one thing we really needed," Melvin said. "Jon is a reliable guy that will give us quality innings and allow us to pitch Max out of the fifth spot and keep an eye on his innings. Really, this is a perfect fit for us."
Garland was originally signed by the Cubs after being selected with the 10th overall pick in the 1997 First-Year Player Draft. Garland was dealt to the White Sox prior to the Trade Deadline in 1998.
After eight seasons with the White Sox, which included an All-Star selection in 2005, Garland was traded to the Angels last offseason in exchange for shortstop Orlando Cabrera.
There will be some adjustments for Garland in coming over to the National League.
"I'm definitely glad not to face a designated hitter," said Garland, who hit one homer in 2006 during Interleague Play. "I believe in my athleticism and my talents to put them up against other pitchers. [Bunting] is definitely something I'm going to have to get in the cage and start working hard on."
With Interleague Play and all the advance scouting that goes on in this day and age, learning the hitters in the NL should not be that great of a challenge. What Garland will rely on the veterans on the staff for is advice on anything he should do differently in attacking a lineup with a pitcher rather than a designated hitter in it.
"I'm going to talk to Webb, Haren and Doug and see how they approach it on the National League side," he said. "I'm real excited to be a part of the National League and see what it's all about."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.