Defining Dozen: Trading for Matt Garza
With the Rangers' starting pitching depth getting severely tested and the team needing another top-flight arm for the stretch run, general manager Jon Daniels and his staff agreed to send four prospects to the Chicago Cubs for Matt Garza a little more than a week before the trade deadline.
The Rangers shipped pitchers C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm, Neil Ramirez (who was the player to be named later) and third base prospect Mike Olt to the Cubs for Garza, who is a free agent this offseason. At the time, Garza was the best pitcher available on the market and was pitching in July like one of the top hurlers in the league.
The price in prospects was high, but the trade made sense. Garza, after all, had pitched in the American League for the first five years of his career, including three successful seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays before he was sent to the Cubs. So the thinking was that making the transition from the National League to the AL shouldn't be a big issue for Garza (unlike Ryan Dempster, the Rangers' trade-deadline pickup in 2012 who struggled as soon as he arrived in Texas from Chicago).
But Garza never really materialized as that big arm down the stretch. Heck, I thought he'd slide in at the No. 2 spot in the rotation, ahead of Derek Holland and behind Yu Darvish. And I was wrong. Holland pitched better. So did rookie Martin Perez. Garza was 4-5 with a 4.38 ERA in 13 starts for the Rangers. In his final 11 starts with the Rangers, Garza managed just two quality starts. He had a great outing against the Kansas City Royals as the Rangers tried to grab that final wild-card spot. But he couldn't sustain that momentum, giving up five runs (though just one earned) on 11 hits against the Angels in what ended up as a win for the Rangers.
It's easy to look back and say the trade was a failure. And it was. But at the time, the Rangers' front office stepped up and made a move to attempt to strengthen the rotation. It was designed to have an impact. It did, just not in the way Texas hoped or expected.
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