Pulling the Trigger
Give the Texas Rangers credit — they needed to pull the trigger on starting pitching and they did it. The Matt Garza deal, rumored for nearly a week, is done. Garza is a right-hander the Rangers have coveted in the past.
To get him to join the Rangers, the team had to give up quite a bit — infielder Mike Olt, pitcher Justin Grimm, pitcher C.J. Edwards and at least one player to be named later, perhaps two. It’s not quite the bounty the Rangers received from the Braves several years ago for Mark Teixeira, but it’s in the neighborhood.
Olt, a former first-round pick, should develop into a fine corner infielder and hitter one day. Right now, he’s in a slump and stuck behind Adrian Beltre at third and Mitch Moreland at first.
The Rangers gave up talent, but didn’t quite give up the farm.
Edwards is a coveted pitching prospect at the Class A level. Grimm has done yeoman’s work for the Rangers this season and should do the same for the Cubs. And that player to be named later?
Well, that’s where the deal gets tricky. Usually players to be named later are low-level prospects. In this case, the Chicago Tribune is reporting that one of the players could be Neil Ramirez, another prized Rangers pitching prospect who isn’t that far away from the Majors.
In other words, the Rangers gave up talent, but didn’t quite give up the farm. It also indicates that Jurickson Profar, the game’s No. 1 prospect, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Last week, I outlined the reasons for the Rangers to get Garza now, as opposed to waiting until closer to the non-waiver trade deadline of July 31. Those reasons haven’t changed.
Garza is pitching well after spending the first six weeks of the season on the disabled list. He’s a hard thrower who has a great strikeout-to-walk ratio and has postseason experience.
He fills an immediate need for the Rangers, who had a half-dozen starting pitchers on the DL at the All-Star Break. He has the makeup to be successful in Rangers Ballpark, especially when you consider he’s been successful in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.
The Rangers can, potentially, get two starts out of Garza this month. When you look ahead at the schedule — the Rangers are returning to AL West action in about a week — Garza will be able to pitch in games in which the Rangers need to win, especially those against the Oakland A’s, who are ahead of the Rangers in the AL West.
Finally, while Garza is a free agent at the end of this season, he’s not the type of pitcher who will break the free agent bank. Sure, he’ll get paid, but he’s not considered an ace.
He won’t get Cliff Lee money. He will get Yu Darvish money, perhaps a little more, and if the Rangers can sell him on a bright future in Arlington, they might be able to keep him long term. Garza became used to winning in Tampa Bay. The Cubs did not afford him that privilege.
It’s a good week’s work for Rangers general manager Jon Daniels and his staff. In time, it may work out that the Rangers gave up more than they should have. Or it could work out like the Cliff Lee deal, which hasn’t really yielded returns for the Rangers’ trading partner, the Seattle Mariners, three years later.
In sports, as in all things, you never know. But the Rangers accomplished a deal that, from here, looks like it will work in their favor this season.