With less than two weeks until MLB's trade deadline, we'll take a look on the blog in the coming days and weeks at some names that could be available between now and the deadline and debate whether those names make sense for the Texas Rangers.
Today's trade target: Matt Garza
There's little question as to whether or not the Rangers need a starter. They do. Sure, you can hope that everybody currently on the disabled list returns on schedule, but how likely is that? And does it really matter? I could argue the Rangers need a starter even if everybody returns fully healthy and productive. The club's disabled list rotation is impressive when you consider Yu Darvish, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando and Nick Tepesch are on that list. Justin Grimm isn't on the DL, but he left Friday's start with right forearm tightness.
The bottom line: The Rangers need some more depth at that spot, especially when you start trying to put together a playoff rotation. Another top-half-of-the-rotation starter would be huge for this club.
Garza fits that bill. He's 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA with 62 strikeouts and 20 walks in 11 starts. In Garza's past six starts, he's got a 1.24 ERA. His last start a few days ago (probably his last in a Cubs uniform) was 6⅔ innings against St. Louis, in which he gave up two runs. He's pitched well against the A's in Oakland and the White Sox, giving up a total of four runs in 21 1/2 innings in those last three starts. He's shown that he's healthy and productive. He's got the numbers to slide in as the No. 2 starter in this rotation behind Darvish and help give this club a boost, but at what cost?
Garza, 29, is a free agent at the end of the 2013 season. That means any team that trades for him will not get a compensatory draft pick if he signs somewhere else (that's part of the new CBA). So we are talking about a pure rental here, assuming Garza doesn't sign long term with Texas. He'll be owed a little less than $5 million for the rest of the season. The Baltimore Sun reported that, last offseason, with one year left on his deal, Garza drew interest from the Orioles. The Cubs asked for two of Baltimore's top five prospects (as ranked by Baseball America, and both players were also in ESPN.com's Keith Law's top-100 list this offseason).
ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine reported over the weekend that the Rangers and Blue Jays were the two top pursuers of Garza and that Mike Olt would be involved in any deal involving Texas.
You can also bet that the Cubs will want some kind of good pitching prospect. Does that mean someone who's pitched in the big leagues like Grimm or Tepesch? Perhaps. Would another prospect have to be included? How good would he have to be?
I like Garza, but because we're talking about the possibility of a half-season rental, it has to be the right deal for me to pull the trigger. If Olt is indeed part of this, I can't think the Rangers would part with one of their top prospects at the lower levels. Sure, Olt might not have as much value as he did this time last year, but he's still got value. He's a power bat with terrific defensive skills at third base and has a bright future.
We've talked before how the Rangers must be careful how and when to use those top prospects. Olt is one of them, though with Adrian Beltre at third base for the long haul, Olt's most-desirable path to stability in the big leagues is blocked. For Garza, I'd consider it, even though I'm hesitant to trade top prospects for a rental (and if Olt goes, I'm certainly not adding another top hitting prospect like Joey Gallo to the deal). Still, this team is desperate for some good starting pitching. But they need more than that. And because Garza's a rental (and no, this isn't like trading for a bona-fide ace in Cliff Lee in 2010), the Rangers shouldn't (and won't) sacrifice a bunch of the farm.
The other side of this is whether the Rangers can get a long-term deal done. That can't actually be part of what they give up. They have to assume Garza isn't here in 2014 and be able to live with what they gave up for a rental.
But you put Garza in this rotation and it gets a whole lot better in a hurry. How do you feel about a playoff series with Darvish, Garza and Derek Holland running out there with whatever reinforcements might come? Not too bad, is it?
Would you trade for Garza? What are you giving up to get him? What do you think it would take to get him?