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)
The Texas Rangers are always players at the trade deadline, at least since Jon Daniels took over as the club's general manager and they came into baseball relevance in 2010 after a small stretch of good times back in the late 1990s.
This year will likely be no different as the Rangers are sure to make a move or two, but the question is will they big or small. The signing of Manny Ramirez could, and that's a big could, somewhat alleviate their need for a right-handed power bat, especially if something happens to Nelson Cruz regarding the Biogenesis scandal that's looming over several players right now.
But the conventional thought is that the Rangers' No. 1 priority in the few weeks leading up to the July 31 trade deadline will be to acquire a right-handed bat that can play in the corner outfield, or at least serve as a DH with Lance Berkman's days as an effective hitter seemingly finished.
With that said, it sure wouldn't hurt the Rangers to get another solid piece for their starting rotation, which has been decimated by injuries, whether it be Colby Lewis' delayed return from his elbow surgery last season or Matt Harrison's back surgery or Nick Tepesch's recent shelfing or Alexi Ogando's persistent health struggles, they definitely need some help.
Lewis is expected back by the end of the month or possibly early-August and Harrison might be ready to roll come late-August, but who knows after a back surgery. That's a lot of ifs for a team that sees itself as a contender and is really one of about seven or eight legitimate AL pennant contenders this year.
Enter Matt Garza, who's been red-hot for the Chicago Cubs over the past month after missing the first near-two months of the season on the DL himself. Over his last five starts, Garza is 4-0 with a crisp 0.97 ERA, 34 strikeouts and just eight walks and has worked at least seven innings in all of them.
He'd instantly step into the No. 2 spot in the Rangers' rotation behind Yu Darvish, and over the past month he's without question been the best pitcher of the trio of Darvish, Derek Holland and himself. He'd be a great addition and would help put away some concerns moving forward in the rotation that has resulted in a horribly overworked, yet talented bullpen.
But at what cost?
Garza is a rental. The Cubs have started throwing the rumor around that they're trying to work on an extension but it seems like a lot of leverage right now for a team that isn't contending, at least not this year.
He'll be in the same position, if dealt, that Cliff Lee was back in 2010 when he came to the Rangers on July 9 and had pitched his final game in Rangers uniform by Nov. 9. That's a risk the Rangers would run in a deal that would almost certainly require top position player prospect Mike Olt or top pitching prospect Martin Perez, who's sporting a sub-1.00 ERA in his past three starts.
It's highly unlikely the Rangers would part with Perez for a rental pitcher, so go ahead and throw that idea out the window. Olt is expendable as a natural third baseman (and a good one, at that) with Adrian Beltre solidified there for at least the next few years and mashing power prospect Joey Gallo lurking in Single-A ball and leading all of minor-league baseball in long balls this year.
But Olt is still a significant price to pay for a rental that, no offense to Garza, is no Lee. It's a tough call to make if you put yourself in Daniels' shoes, but right now, as the Rangers' team is currently constructed there's no question they need an upgrade in their pitching staff to give them a shot to contend in October, and Garza is the best product out there for that purpose.
What do you do if you're Daniels? Give up a significant piece of the future for the now in what appears to be a wide-open year in the American League? Or stand pat and hope Lewis and Harrison can get back to form before the postseason rolls around?