The Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs finally reached an agreement Monday afternoon, ending weeks of speculation by sending Matt Garza to Texas in exchange for Mike Olt, C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm and a player to be named later.
This deal works well for both teams. Texas paid a steep price for the upgrade, but even a one-win upgrade the rest of the season could be key in a tight division race. Chicago received a solid haul for three months of Garza, and hopefully added some players who will contribute when the Cubs are contending for the NL Central.
Garza has pitched well for Chicago in 11 starts this season, going 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA. The right-hander will likely see his ERA rise in the second half of the season for a number of reasons. Garza has a BABIP .21 points lower than his career average, and has stranded 80% of the runners that have reached base against him this season compared to his career average of 73.4%. Expect his BABIP and LOB% to fall closer to his career numbers during the final three months of the season, which would lead to a few more earned runs per start.
Garza is also moving to a higher-run environment in AL, and will start half of his games in one the more hitter-friendly ballparks in baseball. I don't expect either of these factors to have a large impact; Garza has experience with the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays pitching the AL, and Wrigley Field is also a hitter friendly park.
ZiPS projects Garza to have a 3.76 ERA and 3.72 FIP the rest of the season, while Steamer projects a 3.78 ERA and a 3.67 FIP. That would place Garza right around one-win above replacement the rest of the season, and should give Texas a solid option behind Derek Holland and Yu Darvish.
Olt is the centerpiece of the deal for the Cubs, and Chicago is buying low on the corner infielder. Baseball America rated OIt as the No. 22 prospect in baseball before the season, but the 24-year-old has struggled in Triple-A this year, hitting .207/.311/.401 over 264 plate appearances.
Olt's biggest issue has been his inability to make contact, as he has struck out in 1/3 of his plate appearances in Triple-A. The good news for Chicago is that Olt doesn't need to tear the cover off the ball to contribute; Olt has the potential for plus-defense at third, according to Marc Hulet of Fangraphs, which should help his value even if his offense continues to lag.
The third baseman is already 24 years old, so he should see playing time at the MLB level soon despite his struggles at Triple-A. The Cubs are in a good position to give Olt an extended look, as they are not expected to compete for the NL Central crown in 2014.
Grimm posted a 6.37 ERA in 17 starts for the Rangers this year, but his 4.25 xFIP and 4.34 SIERA suggest that the right-hander has a future in the back of the Cubs rotation. Two impressive seasons in the low-minors have inflated Edwards' stock since the Rangers selected the starter in the 48th round of the 2011 Amateur Draft, but Edwards still needs to prove himself in the upper minor leagues.
Texas paid a steep price for Garza, but the Rangers are in a position where a one-win improvement might mean the difference between winning the AL West and guaranteeing themselves a five game series, or playing in a single elimination wild-card game. Their loss to the Baltimore Orioles in the Wild Card playoff in 2012 likely played a role in the Rangers' willingness to part with a strong collection of young players.
This looks like a fair trade for both teams, given their current situations at the major-league level. Texas fans should feel better about the Rangers' chances in the AL West, while Cubs fans should be excited about the talent the team received for Garza.
More from MLB Daily Dish:
- MLB trade deadline primer: National League
- MLB trade deadline primer: American League
- Pirates trade rumors: Pittsburgh targeting offense
- Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia discussing contract extension
- Rockies' Aaron Cook shuts down season due to elbow injury