I talked about the potential trade of Garza to the Rangers on this week's podcast
Texas Rangers Receive: Matt Garza/RHP
Garza is probably the best pitcher that will get traded this season, even considering some of his recent injury issues, most recently a strained muscle in his side. He's always had a plus-fastball that he throws 91-95 mph, mixes in a two-seamer and has two sharp breaking pitches, a mid-80's slider and mid-70's curveball. The slider has emerged as the more consistent and preferred bender for Garza. His changeup is a distant fourth pitch he doesn't use often, though Garza fares well against lefties with a two-seamer he's started using more recently. He's become a more extreme fly-ball pitcher this season, but has shown the ability to make subtle adjustments to his approach. Garza is a solid No. 3 starter who can look like a frontline guy during hot stretches, exactly the kind of pitcher Texas needs, with RHP Yu Darvish and LHP Derek Holland the only healthy dependable starters they have right now. Garza is only guaranteed to be in Arlington this season with this being the last year of his contract. Plus, the mid-season deal means the Rangers cannot receive compensation is Garza signs elsewhere in 2014.
Chicago Cubs Receive: Justin Grimm/RHP, Mike Olt/3B, C.J. Edwards/RHP and PTBNL
Grimm is the only current big leaguer in the deal but also has the lowest upside of the group. Grimm, 24, doesn't blow opponents away but he has good stuff and an expected ERA (when draining out luck) in the low 4's. Grimm works primarily with a 90-93 heater that has been up to 96 mph in the past and a hard high-70's curveball. This year he's made progress from being more of a raw power arm to a refined starter, mixing in a low 80's changeup and showing all the peripherals of a league average pitcher, despite a 6.37 ERA.
Olt was drafted by the Rangers out of college and received a big bonus, though his star has faded just a bit in the last year. As a college shortstop who moved to third base, Olt has good hands, a plus arm and above average defensive potential to pair with his easy plus power to help him profile as an above average regular. The issue has become Olt's ability to hit. There were some concerns about his eyes in college as it turned out Olt needed contacts, which helped him take a step forward in the low minors. He's always been a high walk-high strikeout guy but struggled to make contact in a short big league stint. Plus, his strikeout rate is over 30 percent in Triple-A this year. He was hit in the head with a pitch earlier this month and has had some vision problems, which aren't expected to be a long-term problem. Olt is seen as more of a .250-.260 hitter with lots of walks and strikeouts with the hope of making enough contact to get to his raw power into games along with playing a solid third base.
Edwards was a complete unknown recently, as he signed for $50,000 out of a South Carolina high school as the 48th round pick in 2011. He received his first taste of full-season ball this year at age 21 in the Low-A Sally League and has blown away expectations. At the Futures Game last week, a couple scouts spontaneously brought Edwards up in conversation, wondering how their club didn't see anything like this coming so quickly and how high he should be on the Rangers' prospect lists. As a skinny, super athletic 6-foot-2, right-hander, Edwards has been hitting 91-96 mph with a potentially above average curveball and changeup. He's taken a step forward since high school as a late-bloomer growing into his frame, athleticism and delivery. He's the wild card of this trade with his huge upside.
This trade was nearly completed last week before reports of a negative medical report on one of the Rangers' prospects put a halt on the deal. There was speculation Olt was the problem with his recent vision problems, but sources indicated that it was Neil Ramirez. With how the deal went down, (all the formerly-rumored players, minus Ramirez), that intel appears to be correct. It hasn't been confirmed but reports indicate the player to be named later is either Ramirez or two players from a group both clubs agreed to before the trade was completed. It would appear the Cubs had some concerns about Ramirez's health that may be allayed if he can stay healthy for the rest of the season. Ramirez's stuff and results tend to alternate good/bad each season with 2013 on the upside. He has power stuff that could make him a mid-rotation starter, but command and consistency are his bugaboos.
This was a surprisingly good return for Chicago, trading part of one season of a solid starter and makes up for the previous front office giving up too much to Tampa Bay (RHP Chris Archer and SS Hak Ju Lee were headliners of a five-player package) for Garza with the team trending down. Lee has backed up since the trade while Archer has emerged as a solid rotation piece for the Rays. Edwards, as the wild card in this 2013 deal, could end up being the best piece, but three big league ready pieces in Grimm, Olt and likely Ramirez was a nice recovery by the new Cubs regime which continues to make impressive moves to rebuild the organization and restock the farm system.