Chicago Cubs starter Matt Garza delivers a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros in Chicago, Friday, June 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Make no mistake, the Chicago Cubs got back a good package when they sent starting pitcher Matt Garza, the top arm on the trade market, to the Texas Rangers on Monday afternoon.
Mike Olt is a consensus top prospect in baseball as a corner-infielder with plus power. Justin Grimm is a pitcher who hit the big leagues quickly after a college career and could eventually become a solid back-of-the-rotation guy, and C.J. Edwards is near the top of minor-league baseball in strikeouts. Oh, and there's the "player to be named later," which very well could be Neil Ramirez, who was a notch or two below Martin Perez in terms of Rangers pitching prospects, but definitely no one to sneeze at.
But, here's the thing. The Rangers got Garza, their man, the guy they've coveted for years now dating back to his days with the Tampa Bay Rays, who shipped him off to Chicago prior to the 2011 season.
Garza isn't the typical pitcher coming from the NL to the AL, who have traditionally struggled. Just ask Ryan Dempster or R.A. Dickey. Garza has pitched in the AL, pitched well, and pitched in the postseason with the Rays. He is familiar with the rigors of the no-rest lineups the strong AL teams present with a designated hitter. He's also on an unprecedented hot streak right now as he's 5-0 in his last six starts with the Cubs with a 1.24 ERA.
He instantly upgrades the Rangers' pitching rotation and makes the entire Rangers staff (bullpen included) better. While the Rangers still need to get some help in the lineup and perhaps chase another bat, the pitching staff, as long as everyone remains healthy, is pretty darn good.
How's this look for a postseason rotation (if the Rangers are able to get there)?
Yu Darvish, Derek Holland/Matt Garza, and the any number of guys who could be the No. 4 starter, most likely Martin Perez with the wild cards of Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison looming in returns from lengthy stays on the disabled list.
That gives way to what is becoming the best bullpen in the American League, and maybe all of baseball, with the likes of Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers, Neal Cotts, Joakim Soria, Jason Frasor and Joe Nathan.
If your starter can give you six strong innings with that bullpen, you'll be golden.
Garza is a gamer, and by all accounts an insane competitor with what A.J. Pierzynski called a bit of an edge and a tad bit "crazy." To have Pierzynski call you that says something, and that's just what the Rangers need.
Did the Rangers give up a lot to get Garza for what could only be 2 1/2 months? Absolutely. But it was a move that needed to be made and didn't come close to crippling the Rangers' farm or prohibit them from working other deals in the future — whether that's in the next week leading up to the July 31 trade deadline or it's in December at the Winter Meetings.
This deal is a win for the Rangers. Now they just hope the deal translates to wins this season, and hopefully deep into October.