The Texas Rangers could've signed Cliff Lee to a long-term deal after the 2010 season that saw Lee dealt to the Rangers in July before propelling the Rangers to their first-ever postseason series win and their first-ever World Series.
But the Rangers ultimately didn't meet Lee's demands for him to return to Arlington via free agency, and the rest is history as Lee ended up in Philadelphia.
The Rangers went to another World Series without him, and came closer to winning one.
The lesson is, Jon Daniels and the Rangers' front office isn't going to go beyond what he wants to sign anyone, regardless of how good they are. The second part of the lesson: Matt Garza is no Cliff Lee.
Garza will be the hottest commodity out there in free agency this winter when it comes to starting pitchers and he'll likely be commanding five years for somewhere in the $80-90 million range. That's about what he deserves. That's not the issue, but the Rangers will look elsewhere and might not bring back the guy they've coveted for years now and finally landed prior to the July 31 trade deadline.
Garza's been good since arriving in Arlington, not great. He's compiled a 4.32 ERA in six starts and the Rangers have won five of those games. He's brought a much-needed swagger to what was a lifeless team when he arrived.
But look ahead to next season and what is under contract in the starting rotation. There's Cy Young candidate Yu Darvish, followed by Derek Holland and his sub-3.00 ERA, followed by a hopefully recovered Matt Harrison and upstart rookie Martin Perez, who has pitched his way into being a sure thing for the postseason pitching rotation if the Rangers can get to October.
That would leave the Rangers looking for a No. 4 or No. 5 starter to fill out a potentially fantastic rotation, not a solid No. 2 or great No. 3 like Garza is. Of course, you can never have too much pitching, as the Rangers have seen this season, and they will likely make a run at Garza, but when someone comes out and throws stupid money at Garza, Daniels will let him walk away and not think twice about it.
Time will tell whether Garza is a Ranger beyond 2013, but you could definitely make a strong case for letting him go elsewhere and focus on bringing in another bat or two this winter.