ARLINGTON – Rangers manager Jon Daniels threw his players a life raft Monday when he traded for Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza. After being swept by the Orioles over the weekend, this Rangers clubhouse desperately needed some good news.
Garza, who has been tremendous over his past six starts, will make his Rangers debut Wednesday against the Yankees. The rotation becomes much more formidable with Garza, and it could eventually help return Alexi Ogando to the bullpen, where he probably belongs.
The Rangers gave up highly regarded prospect Mike Olt, rookie right-hander Justin Grimm and Class A right-hander C.J. Edwards. It also looks like Neil Ramirez may eventually end up as a player to be named later. The Cubs were wise to ride this Garza hot streak for another start or two in order to land the best deal.
The Rangers gave up some quality talent, but that’s what you can do when you have depth throughout your organization.
Garza will bring an edge to this rotation. He’s a pitcher who might destroy a few items in the dugout when things go wrong, and that’s OK. The Rangers know him well from his time with the Rays. They also know his injury history, which would give anyone pause. The Rangers had an interest in Garza last July, but then he suffered a stress reaction in his right elbow. He also started this season late because of a left lat strain. Garza is 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA over his past six starts. Daniels told me late Monday evening that Garza was a “big-time energy guy” and that he was “unafraid.”
“We feel like we got the best player on the market,” Daniels told reporters earlier Monday. “Obviously, we look at injuries pretty seriously with any player. But especially with somebody who has missed time here recently…We feel comfortable with the risk that we took on.”
This isn’t the type of daring move that put the Rangers over the top three years ago with Cliff Lee, but it will at least get the A’s attention. And keep in mind the A’s could lose a valuable piece of their rotation if Bartolo Colon is suspended for his connection to BioGenesis.
This deal was more palatable because of Mike Olt’s struggles this season. He’s had to overcome vision issues that led to an awful start in Round Rock. He’ll have a lot more room for growth with the Cubs since his path was blocked with the Rangers. He may become a competent major-league player, but I don’t think you have another Chris Davis on your hands.
The Rangers were able to make a significant upgrade without trading Jurickson Profar. Now, Daniels has to look for a right-handed bat in a trade. I think Hunter Pence is probably one of the best options at this point.
When you’re hitting Mitch Moreland second in the order — it happened Monday — it’s a problem. Lance Berkman hasn’t been the answer at DH, and you have to wonder when right fielder Nelson Cruz could be suspended. Daniels admitted Monday that the organization is thinking about how to respond to that scenario.
For now, the Rangers will just hope Garza can give them somewhere in the neighborhood of 13 starts. And there’s no reason to start worrying about signing him to a long-term deal at this point.
A rotation of Darvish-Garza-Holland-Ogando-Lewis might do some damage in the playoffs. At least now, they have a better chance of getting there.