Winners and Losers of Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers Trade for Matt Garza
For nearly three years, trade winds blew around Matt Garza every time he stepped on the mound.
Finally, those winds have subsided, as the 29-year-old righty was traded by the Chicago Cubs to the Texas Rangers for a four-player package.
As reported by Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan, the Cubs received third baseman Mike Olt, a pair of right-handed starters in Justin Grimm and C.J. Edwards, and the infamous "player to be named" in exchange for the veteran starter.
Who are the winners and losers of the first big trade of the season?
Is it too early to even be thinking about winners and losers when it comes to this deal? Let's take a look.
Winner: Texas Rangers
With multiple starting pitchers on the disabled list and a rotation that was in desperate need of a lift, the Rangers landed the best pitcher on the market.
Garza fits nicely in the team's rotation as the No. 3 starter after Yu Darvish and Derek Holland, giving manager Ron Washington three reliable starters (when healthy) who he can count on for a quality outing every time they take the mound.
It also gives the Rangers a head start on the rest of baseball in trying to get Garza signed to a long-term deal, which could come before the end of the season if both parties are satisfied.
Sure, the Rangers paid a high price to acquire Garza, who comes with plenty of risk—namely his shaky medical history and the fact he can walk away as a free agent after the season. But it was a move the team had to make.
Winner: Mike Olt
Blocked by Adrian Beltre at third base in Texas, Mike Olt needed a change of scenery in the worst possible way.
He couldn't have landed in a better situation.
Olt steps in as Chicago's everyday third baseman, taking over for Luis Valbuena who, while a terrific defensive player, struggles to contribute with the bat. Not only is Olt's glove at least on par with Valbuena's, but he has a much stronger throwing arm as well.
Ranked as one of the 25 best prospects in baseball by both Baseball America and MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo heading into the season, Olt has an advanced approach at the plate and tremendous raw power that could make him a big-time run producer in the middle of Chicago's lineup.
Olt's overall numbers with Triple-A Round Rock this season were poor (.213, 11 HR, 32 RBI). That said, he battled vision problems early in the season, and it took awhile for him to get going. Over his last 10 games, Olt was hitting .290 with three home runs, nine RBI and a 1.120 OPS.
The kid can hit, and he'll finally get the chance to prove it at Wrigley Field.
Loser: Luis Valbuena
After spending the first five years of his major league career as a part-time player, Luis Valbuena had finally gotten a chance to play every day in Chicago. That comes screeching to a halt with Mike Olt now in the mix.
Versatile enough to play multiple infield positions, the 27-year-old finds himself blocked at all of them, so moving him to another spot around the horn is not in the cards.
Now relegated to the bench, only to be seen as a defensive replacement or pinch-hitter, he may never get another chance to start on a regular basis for a major league team.
Winner: Chicago Cubs
After making this deal, Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein can check off another box on their to-do list for rebuilding the Cubs.
Mike Olt fills the void at third base that was created when Aramis Ramirez left town after the 2011 season, and along with first baseman Anthony Rizzo, it gives the Cubs a pair of young sluggers to build a lineup around.
The Cubs also get a pair of young, controllable arms in Justin Grimm and C.J. Edwards, who both project to be in the middle of future rotations.
Despite being lit up in Texas this season (a 6.37 ERA and 1.65 WHIP over 17 starts), Grimm can step in and help Chicago now, while Edwards is still a work in progress and likely needs at least another full year of minor league action before he's ready to contribute.
Filling one gaping hole immediately while potentially filling out two-fifths of a future starting rotation isn't a bad return at all for an injury-prone, mid-rotation starter who was going to command more money than he was actually worth—and the Cubs would want to pay—as a free agent following the season.
Winner: Matt Garza
Moving from a rebuilding team to a contending one is a win in any veteran's book, especially when that veteran is entering his walk year.
That's the position Matt Garza now finds himself in.
If Garza is able to continue throwing the ball as well as he had been for the Cubs, with whom he posted a 3.17 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9 and 7.6 K/9—and keep that up in the postseason—he could be looking at a much bigger payday this winter than anyone anticipated.
Of course, the exact opposite could happen as well, costing Garza money in the long run.
Regardless of how it plays out down the road, that he will now be pitching in front of a potent lineup and for a contender makes Garza a big winner in this deal.
Winner: Chicago White Sox
By making this deal, the Cubs have inadvertently helped their crosstown rivals, the White Sox.
With Garza off the board, Jake Peavy becomes the best pitcher available. If I was a general manager of a team that missed out on Garza, I'd make sure I was sitting when I called Rick Hahn and the White Sox.
If the going rate for a veteran starter with a shaky injury history on the verge of free agency is a four-player package (two top-10 prospects in Olt and Grimm, along with a third in the top 20 with Edwards), a similar player under team control for another season should command more.
You can bet that Chicago's asking price for Peavy just went up and that there's a GM out there desperate enough to pay it.