The Matt Garza Trade And What It Means For The Rangers


After a slew of trade rumors over the past week, painting the picture that the Texas Rangers were ultimately “close” to reaching a trade with the Chicago Cubs, only to be said to have negotiations fall apart, it’s official: The Rangers have acquired Matt Garza from the Cubs.

Jul 14, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza (22) sits in the dugout during the seventh inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Before analyzing what Garza means for Texas, let’s analyze what the Rangers gave up to acquire him.

Going to Chicago will be a 4-player package consisting of Mike Olt, C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm and a player to-be-named later.

This will probably prove to be a strong haul for the Cubs, especially after considering the fact that Garza is a two month rental, along with the Cubs’ haul from Texas in comparison against the package that Chicago traded to the Rays to acquire Garza.

On the other hand, the Rangers ultimately sold low on 3B Mike Olt, whom is still recovering from concussion and vision issues. Although Olt is relatively old for a prospect, he still has a chance to develop into an impact bat,  but subjectively,  Olt truly had no true future as a Ranger.

Perhaps the most promising player going to Chicago from Texas is RHP C.J. Edwards. In 93.1 innings for Single-A Hickory, the 21-year old, Edwards, has posted a 1.83 ERA to go long with a 122 Ks. In 2013, Edwards emerged as one of the better arms in the Rangers’ minor league system and prior to the trade, was thought by some scouts to be one of the Rangers’ top 5 prospects.

The last named player in the 4-player package, Justin Grimm, is a solid throw-in for the Cubs. Grimm more than likely won’t amount to anything more than a No. 4 pitcher or a No. 3 at best, but it cannot be understated how valuable that quality pitching depth is to a baseball team.

Now, what exactly does Matt Garza mean for the Rangers?

In an earlier article by Eric Reining (link), Eric summarized that Garza’s status as a semi-TORP, stems from his days in Tampa Bay, in which his association with the success of the Rays’ historically strong pitching rotations certainly helped his status. That’s not to say that Garza isn’t a good pitcher, he’s just certainly not an ace, nor a No. 2 pitcher for that matter. Garza’s true value in terms of sabermetrics does not equate to the value of the package that the Rangers surrendered to acquire him. In other words, Garza < 4-player package from Texas.

So, in trying to understand the Rangers’ motivations for moving such a solid package to acquire a rental player in Garza, I could only come up with one logical conclusion: The Rangers are worried about their starting pitching depth.

The Rangers’ rotation has faced injury problems all season. To date, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis and Alexi Ogando have all faced long and extended periods of time on the DL, and although the Rangers certainly traded away a solid package that does not equate to the value of a No.3/4 starter, Garza certainly strengthens the Rangers’ rotation to some degree.

When/if healthy, the Rangers’ starting rotation would look something like this:

1-Yu Darvish

2-Derek Holland

3-Matt Garza/Matt Harrison

4-Matt Garza/Matt Harrison

5-Alexi Ogando/Colby Lewis

In all reality, that is a very strong starting rotation. Between the Tigers and the Rangers, the question of which team boasts the best rotation in the American League, would certainly not yield unanimous results.

It’s obvious that Jon Daniels and Co. have a win-now mentality, and are willing to do whatever it takes to strengthen the team to the best of their wisdom, and although Garza is far from a certainty (a la the Cliff Lee trade from 2010), it is certainly a negligible risk, especially after taking into account the stark lack of true impact bats available from the trade market.

Now, with the acquisition of Matt Garza, don’t expect the Rangers to remain quiet between now and the trade deadline. The Rangers could still use another bat and there do exist some enticing options (Alex Rios, Michael Cuddyer, etc.). Only time will tell, but something tells me that the Rangers are still seriously looking to upgrade the roster. 

Matt Garza was an uncharacteristic trade on behalf of the Rangers, but I can understand the motivation(s) for swinging this deal. And with the addition of one of the aforementioned hitters, I will feel much better about the Rangers’ chances of making a deep run in the playoffs.