ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels had to do something. With a disabled list riddled with starting pitchers and a rotation that isn’t deep enough, the Rangers’ front office traded for the top starter left on the market, sources told ESPNChicago.com and ESPNDallas.com today.
Matt Garza slides into this rotation as the No. 2 starter behind Yu Darvish. Garza is a rental, which means Daniels and the Rangers had to be willing to part with these prospects knowing they may get only a few months of Garza in their rotation. Of course, they might sign him to a long-term deal, but the Rangers had to make the deal knowing that might not happen and that they’d get no draft-pick compensation, either, thanks to the new CBA.
It was the right move. This rotation needs some help. This team needs a boost and this trade will provide it. This isn't just about trying to catch Oakland and win the AL West. It's also about getting set up for a deep playoff run. This is a solid playoff rotation with Darvish, Garza and Derek Holland as the top three, plus Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison possibly returning. It also gives the Rangers the option of sending Alexi Ogando to the bullpen if needed.
It cost the Rangers a lot to add a pitcher of Garza's quality. Mike Olt, one of the top hitting prospects in the system, goes to the Chicago Cubs. Can you imagine sending Olt in this type of deal a year ago? Well, neither could the Rangers when Zack Greinke was made available. Then, it was reported by a few folks that Texas wouldn't surrender Olt, Martin Perez or Jurickson Profar in any kind of deal for Greinke. Eventually, the Brewers took the Angels' offer headlined by Jean Segura. Texas, of course, went on to lose in the AL wild-card game and the Angels didn't make the playoffs (they didn't re-sign Greinke either, and the Brewers have enjoyed the talented Segura).
But things are different now. Olt's value isn't quite what it was, though he's still a high-end prospect who is terrific defensively at third base and has potential with the bat. He was the headliner. But there were others in this deal. Texas dealt C.J. Edwards, one of the talented young arms in the lower level, and Justin Grimm, who has major league experience and is, to keep the theme going, another young pitcher. It's a high price. But the Rangers needed to do it.
Daniels and the Rangers have done a good job of asset acquisition and development. You grab as many talented young players as you can with the hopes that some of them help you at the big league level in a Rangers uniform and others help you at the big league level by becoming trade pieces to put someone else in a Rangers uniform. They did it with Justin Smoak a few years ago, grabbing rental Cliff Lee. Garza is no Lee. But he's the best starting pitcher in a thin rotation market, and after a weekend in which some medical concerns popped up, the Cubs and Rangers got the deal done. I wonder whether Chicago took the past few days and showed that Rangers offer around, hoping to beat it. But it doesn't matter. Garza's next start is likely in the next few days in Arlington.
If the Rangers get the Garza who has showed up for the last month, their rotation becomes quite formidable come playoff time. Check out Garza's numbers from his last six starts: 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA, six quality starts, 38 strikeouts, 10 walks, .210 batting average against. That’s the stuff of a No. 1 starter. It’s also why the Cubs were in such good position to get a solid prospect package for Garza.
Just think about Darvish in Game 1, Garza in Game 2 and Derek Holland in Game 3. And that’s with 10 days left before the trade deadline. Daniels still has time to upgrade some more. You can bet he’ll try.
The Rangers needed to make this move. Did they overpay? Every team overpays for a top rental. But because they have the minor league assets, they can afford to do this and it doesn't set them back as much as it would other organizations. It sends a clear signal to this clubhouse that the front office is trying to win now. That should excite anyone in a Rangers uniform.
The bottom line: The Rangers have a better shot at catching Oakland and making a playoff run than they did yesterday.