Texas Rangers Claim 1B Ryan Garko Off Waivers from Seattle Mariners
Garko, acquired this offseason by the Seattle Mariners, was expected to spell Casey Kotchman at first base, but his skill set did not match the Seattle Mariners' expectations.
A career .279 hitter, Garko is an offense-oriented first baseman whose defensive capabilities are oft-criticized. Kotchman, conversely, is a talented defensive first baseman who is also known as a disciplined hitter at the plate.
Garko, who was hitting .220 during spring training, ceded his roster spot to the resurgent DH Mike Sweeney. Sweeney, who pondered retirement this offseason, received an invite to Seattle's spring training as a longshot to make the roster. Sweeney has been scorching this Spring, posting a league-leading .571, and working his way onto the Mariners' 25-man roster.
Garko's departure shows that the Seattle Mariners are now invested in Casey Kotchman. The Mariners hope that Kotchman will improve his career statistics if he is given an everyday gig—a strategy which paid dividends on former role-players-turned-key-contributors Russell Branyan and Franklin Gutierrez.
With Garko out of town, Kotchman should receive the bear share of starts at first base. Garko had been projected to platoon with Kotchman at first base, but the Mariners clearly thought Kotchman would excel in a full-time role.
Additionally, with Ryan Garko's salary of $550,000 sent to Texas, the Seattle Mariners may be able to up their bid to acquire an available veteran starting pitcher. Seattle is rumored to have offered a contract to former Mariner Jarrod Washburn, but Washburn, reportedly, is demanding more money. With Garko's contract off the books, keep a careful eye on the free agent market.
Texas had previously sought to acquire Boston Red Sox INF Mike Lowell this offseason, but negotiations fell through before a deal was struck. Additionally, INF Khalil Greene had signed with Texas, but the Rangers voided his contract after learning of his struggles with Social Anxiety Disorder.
Garko's acquisition fills the Texas Rangers' need for a right-handed bat on their bench. Lowell and Greene were rumored to be of interest in Texas, but Garko's arrival all but kills those possibilities.
This move will most likely benefit the Texas Rangers more than it will burden the Seattle Mariners. Texas acquires a right-handed bat that it strongly desired, and the Mariners keep clubhouse-favorite Mike Sweeney on the active roster. It's possible that—after this season has played out—one team clearly lost in this trade, but time will only tell.
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