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Garland's market gaining momentum

Garland's market gaining momentum

LOS ANGELES -- The market has been "heating up a little bit the last few days" for Jon Garland, his agent, Craig Landis, said on Friday.

Garland, who was 14-8 with the Angels in 2008 and has won 106 Major League games at 29 without ever missing a start, is among the most desirable starting pitchers left in the marketplace.

The Dodgers, a team Garland rooted for while growing up in the San Fernando Valley and attending John F. Kennedy High School in Granada Hills, are one of the clubs having discussed the right-hander with Landis.

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"We're talking to a few teams, and there's a good chance we could have something in the next week or so," Landis said. "The Dodgers are one of those teams. Jon's from the area, grew up in Granada Hills and liked the Dodgers.

"They're a good, competitive club. They've expressed some interest, and we'll see where it goes from there. They like Jon, but they're looking at some other guys as well. There's definitely some interest in continuing to talk to them. The rest of it is economics and everything.

"I think it's a good fit. He's spent his career in the American League [with the White Sox and Angels], and Chicago [U.S. Cellular Field] is a hitter's park. I think he fits real well with the National League. He's an athletic guy who can run the bases, and he's a pretty good hitter. Dodger Stadium is a pretty good park to pitch in."

Landis, while admittedly a Garland fan, thinks the pitcher's numbers distinguish him as a durable, competitive, productive performer.

"Not many pitchers have won more than 100 games before their 29th birthday," Landis said of Garland, who turned 29 on Sept. 27. "I'm convinced Jon will have between 200 and 250 wins at the end of his career.

"He's also shown that he can perform in the postseason. He had a couple of good postseason outings with the White Sox [in 2005] when they went all the way, including a [complete-game victory] against the Angels [in Game 3 of the AL Championship Series].

"In the past four years, he's won 60 games -- 18 twice, 10 and then 14 this year. If you look at some of the other guys out there, I think Jon compares very favorably. I'm an old-time baseball guy; I believe wins are very important."

Garland is tied for eighth in the Majors over the past four years with those 60 victories. Among other prominent names in free agency this winter, Derek Lowe (signed by Atlanta) has 54 wins in that time frame, A.J. Burnett (signed by the Yankees) has 50 wins, and Ben Sheets (still available) has 41 victories the past four years.

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The Angels, who sent shortstop Orlando Cabrera to Chicago for Garland after the 2007 season, went 20-12 in Garland's starts. On 18 occasions he delivered what is known as a quality start, going at least six innings while yielding three or fewer earned runs.

"He had a few bad games that raised his ERA," Landis said, "but even in a slightly down year, he won 14 games."

Finishing 14-8 with a 4.90 ERA in 196 2/3 innings, Garland, 29, maintained his streak of never missing a start because of injury, extending to 2001, when he broke into the White Sox rotation.

He's 106-89, a .541 winning percentage, with a 4.47 career ERA. He has averaged 205 innings per season since becoming a full-time starter.

Garland declined the Angels' salary-arbitration offer, preferring to pursue a multiyear deal. The Angels will receive a second-round Draft pick as compensation from the club that signs him.

Garland earned $12.5 million in 2008, the final installment of a three-year, $29 million extension he signed with the White Sox after the 2005 season.

Garret Anderson, a fellow Kennedy High graduate and Garland's Angels teammate in 2008, holds the pitcher in high regard, personally and professionally.

"With his consistency, he's one of the most valuable guys out there [in free agency]," Anderson said. "He wants the ball and takes the ball every fifth day, and he gives you innings and a chance to win.

"Yeah, you have your CC Sabathias, the front-line guys. But a guy like Jon, who can plug into that 3-4-5 spot in the rotation, has just as much value.

"I've been on teams where the 3-4-5 guys couldn't get the job done, and everything fell apart. If you want to win, you have to have guys like him. He's definitely got a lot of value."

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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