Grading the Texas Rangers trade for Drew Smyly
By Travis Koch
The Texas Rangers have acquired left-handed pitcher Drew Smyly and a player to be named later from the Chicago Cubs. They will send a PTBNL to Chicago.
The offseason fun is officially underway. Prior to the Texas Rangers naming their new manager last night, they acquired left-handed pitcher Drew Smyly from the Chicago Cubs. Smyly has not pitched since the 2016 season due to Tommy John surgery. Chicago signed him to a two-year deal amid his recovery; however, the lefty never made an appearance for the Cubs.
In its entirety, the Rangers acquire Smyly and a player to be named later. Chicago gets a player to be named later from the Rangers.
Smyly is a former 2nd round pick of the Detroit Tigers. He pitched out of the bullpen for Detroit in his second big league season, recording a 6-0 record and posting a 2.37 ERA. He then became a starter in 2014.
He’s had success as a starting pitcher between the Detroit Tigers and the Tampa Bay Rays, but his most recent season was underwhelming. Smyly made 30 starts in 2016 with Tampa and went 7-12 with a 4.88 ERA. From there, he developed elbow issues, underwent Tommy John, and here we are…
The Texas Rangers will take on the remaining $7 million owed on Smyly’s contract. He is signed only through 2019.
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It’s always a risk to sign a player recovering from any type of long-term injury. But, for the Rangers’ sake, why not?
They desperately need starting pitching. Prior to the trade, their rotation looked to be Mike Minor and two or three inexperienced rookies. Drew Smyly has now been added to that bunch, making it look slightly more promising.
It’s difficult to predict outcomes from pitchers coming off Tommy John surgery. Sometimes an arm will return stronger, sometimes weaker and sometimes the same. We’ve seen the surgery ruin careers, like in the case of former Marlins’ pitcher, Josh Johnson. We’ve also seen it boost careers, like in the case of 2018 postseason hero, Nathan Eovaldi.
Who knows which end of the TJ spectrum Drew Smyly will fall under, but it’s a certainly a justified risk for Texas. They essentially offset what they would’ve paid for the Cole Hamels buyout had the Cubs not picked up his 2019 option. The buyout amount would have been $6 million.
The trade grade is a B.
There’s only one name involved at the moment so there isn’t much to evaluate. Given the Texas Rangers current makeup, it seems like a good move. Drew Smyly should be ready to go at the start of the 2019 season. Depending on his health status, the Rangers could work him in the bullpen at the beginning. Though, their intentions are definitely to use him as a starter.