Sep 9, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers catcher Geovany Soto (8) tags out Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) at home plate in the ninth inning of the game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.Pirates beat the Rangers 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Jacob Brigham: Jacob Brigham was initially drafted by the Rangers in 2006 and was a member of their franchise until he was traded to the Cubs for Soto (on July 30th 2012) but, by way of injury, he found his way back in the Rangers organization soon enough. The trade the Rangers made actually included a stipulation by the Cubs who had reservations about Brigham’s health. Sure enough, Brigham experienced arm issues at the end of 2012 and the Cubs clause (stipulation, whatever you would like to call it) sprang into effect. Brigham was shipped back to Texas in exchange for Barret Loux and a player to be named. Following the 2013 season, though, Brigham became a free agent and opted to sign a minor league contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates for whom he pitches today as a member of their AAA rotation in Indianapolis. There, Brigham is off to a productive and (thankfully) healthy start having pitched 28.1 innings with 29 strikeouts opposed to 11 walks. He sports a respectable 1.235 WHIP and remains relatively young having turned 26 in February.
Barret Loux: Originally taken early in the first round by the Arizona Diamondbacks, Barret Loux saw his deal fall apart when he failed to pass his physical when a torn labrum and other arm issues were discovered. The Rangers swooped in to sign Loux months later as a minor league free agent, feeling that $312,000 was worth the gamble given his health history. Keep in mind, the Rangers have a history of putting a premium on talent despite injury histories, crowded positions etc. (think along the lines of Tanner Scheppers, Luis Sardinas, Rougned Odor etc.). Early on it certainly appeared as though Loux had surpassed his physical issues leading to two successful minor league campaigns with the Rangers, the latter of which he was named the Texas League 2012 Pitcher of the Year after going 14-1 with a 3.47 ERA. Following the trade, Barret had a tougher time in the Cubs organization in 2013. He owned a 4.84 ERA through 80 innings pitched and saw his walk rate balloon to 46 (his most in any professional season); still, he illustrated his ability to make hitters swing and miss as he struck out nearly a batter an inning with 76 K’s. Barret has yet to pitch in the minor or major leagues this season but if he can get back on track and put his injuries behind him he could be a valuable piece to the Cubs going forward.
Verdict: This was a stranger instance as far as deals go; I think in general it has been a good trade for the Rangers. The Rangers traded for Soto at the end of July in 2012 to shore up the catching situation as Yorvit Torrealba’s production had quickly fallen off and Mike Napoli experienced both health issues/risks as well as regression from his truly formidable 2011 campaign. Sure, Soto hasn’t ever returned to his Rookie of the Year form with the Cubs in 2008 but he has provided solid defense and a couple very timely hits during his tenure with the Rangers. Soto is not flashy but I think he has been a valuable piece at a reasonable price. As much as we all cherish J.P. Arencibia’s current production (….) I think I will be happy when Soto is ready to contribute again following his knee injury. As far as the other half of this trade goes, Barret Loux does appear to have the big body (6’5”) and arm to contribute to a major league team, but his health issues will always be a concern and the Rangers simply needed to plug a hole. 312,000 dollars spent on what would become a trade chip for a Major League catcher is worth it as far as I am concerned.