Rangers acquire coveted right-hander Garza
Three prospects plus one or two players to be named dealt to Cubs
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers had been trying to trade for right-hander Matt Garza for 2 1/2 years. On Monday, after two weeks of trade talks and another near-miss, Texas finally achieved its goal.
The Rangers did so by trading third baseman Mike Olt, pitchers C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm and at least one player to be named to the Cubs for Garza. Righty Neil Ramirez could be the player to be named if he has no further issues with his right shoulder. Alternatively, the Cubs could also choose two other players.
Garza is expected to join the Rangers on Tuesday and is tentatively scheduled to start on Wednesday against the Yankees. The two sides had been negotiating for two weeks and almost completed the trade on Friday, but Ramirez's health issues stalled the momentum. But both sides wanted it done and finished the job on Monday.
"He's an extremely talented pitcher that has had success in the toughest of divisions and the biggest stages, who is throwing the ball as well as anybody right now," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said of Garza. "It's a power repertoire, a little bit of a different look from what we've got.
"And he was available. That's a pretty important thing, too. There are a lot of pitchers we'd like to acquire that aren't available. He was, in our opinion, the best guy on the market, and we wanted to go out and make a push to get him."
Garza joins a rotation that already includes Derek Holland and Martin Perez. The Rangers also activated ace Yu Darvish from the disabled list for Monday's start and plan to do the same with right-hander Alexi Ogando on Tuesday. By the time Garza takes the mound on Wednesday, the Rangers rotation will finally be at full strength for the first time since the first weeks of the season, before lefty Matt Harrison went on the disabled list.
"I'm really excited about adding him to what's been the strength of the club -- our pitching staff," Daniels said of Garza. "It's arguably the strength the last couple of years as well. I think with him in addition to all of the guys we've got, one through 12, we put out as strong a staff as we ever have. It's early still in the season, and we want to give our club every chance we can to get into the tournament and see where it goes."
Garza is 6-1 with a 3.74 ERA in 11 starts for the Cubs. He began the season on the disabled list with a strained lat muscle in his left rib cage and was activated on May 21. He is 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA in his last five starts.
Garza, 29, is in his eighth season and is 63-62 with a 3.80 ERA in 178 career starts, three relief appearances and 1,098 innings with the Twins (2006-07), Rays (2008-10) and Cubs. He is one of 72 active pitchers with at least 1,000 innings pitched. Among those pitchers, Garza ranks 24th in ERA, 25th with 11.84 baserunners allowed per nine innings and 27th with 7.60 strikeouts per nine innings.
"What made him attractive is he's been the best pitcher in baseball the last five, six, seven starts," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said on Monday. "It's probably one of the better stretches he's had in his career. He throws strikes, he's young -- that makes anybody attractive.
"He's one of the hardest-working pitchers you'll ever be around. Even the four days he doesn't pitch, he's on the bench and rooting his teammates on. You're always going to hear him on the bench. He's one of those special starting pitchers who will always be involved in the game, and position players who play every day and other people appreciate that."
Current members of the Rangers were eager to welcome Garza upon learning of the trade.
"He's going to be great here," said catcher Geovany Soto, who was Garza's teammate in Chicago. "He has a lot of energy and a power arm. He always wants to win and gives you 110 percent every time. He's energetic and likes to have fun, but he's a true professional who works hard and will be a great fit here."
"I'm excited," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "We have one of the best rotations in the big leagues. Now it's time to see what we can do with it."
Garza has made five career postseason starts, all with the Rays, going 2-1 with a 3.48 ERA. He was the Most Valuable Player of the 2008 American League Championship Series against the Red Sox, going 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts.
But Garza has also had some health issues. He has been on the disabled list four times in the past six years, including twice with right elbow problems.
"Obviously, you look at that pretty seriously with any player, but especially somebody that has missed time here recently," Daniels said. "It's well documented what issues he's had. We were talking to the Cubs last July, too, when he went down. We feel comfortable with the risk we took on.
"There's always risk in any player. Anybody can have an issue. The way we look at it, the risk was in some of the players that we gave up. We gave up some talent. The Cubs did pretty well."
Garza will be a free agent after this season, something bidding teams had to factor in their decision when determining which players to part with for what could be a two-month rental.
Olt was taken with the 49th overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft from the University of Connecticut and was hitting .213 with 11 home runs and 32 RBIs in 65 games at Triple-A Round Rock. He missed all of May while dealing with blurred vision and is hitting .247 with 10 home runs and 26 RBIs in 45 games since his return.
Grimm is 7-7 with a 6.37 ERA in 17 starts this season and 2-4 with a 9.91 ERA in his last eight starts. He left his last start, against the Tigers on July 12, with some stiffness in his right forearm but has been available to pitch since the All-Star break.
Edwards, 21, is a right-handed pitcher who was 8-2 with a 1.83 ERA in 18 starts at Class A Hickory. The Rangers selected him in the 48th round of the 2011 Draft out of Mid-Carolina (S.C.) High, but he has been emerging as one of the Rangers' top pitching prospects.
"What it comes down to is we had the players to do it," Daniels said. "I talk about it all the time, but the work our scouts and our player development and coaches and trainers, what they've done to allow us to put these guys in a deal and get a pitcher of Matt's caliber can't be overstated.
"Not just these few players, but [we had] the confidence we've got more coming behind them to where we can part with a pretty significant package. We paid a steep price in talent to acquire Matt, but we did so knowing we've got other guys in the system because of the work of our scouts, because of the work our coaches have done."
The Rangers still have time until the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline to make another move, and Daniels continues to look for a right-handed bat.
"Our offense hasn't been at the level it's been the last couple of years," Daniels said. "When you lose 70 home runs from last year's club, that's not necessarily a surprise. I still think that internally we've got some real improvement from guys who've had different reasons why they have struggled. I think if there is another addition -- I don't know that there will be -- but we're looking on the offensive side, another bat to help carry the load."
The Cubs acquired Garza from the Rays on Jan. 8, 2011. At the time, the Rangers were also engaged in discussions with the Rays. The Rangers also tried to acquire Garza from the Cubs last summer, just before the Deadline, but he ended up on the DL with a stress fracture in his right elbow. Garza didn't pitch after July 21, and the Rangers ended up acquiring Ryan Dempster from the Cubs instead.
This time, they got the player they wanted most.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.