As of right now, it sure sounds like the Texas Rangers view Matt Garza as Plan A and their number one priority to add before the trade deadline two weeks from today.
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However, the debate is whether Texas should give up the type of players Chicago’s asking for, especially for a guy who’s going to be a free agent at the end of the season.
Some believe Matt Garza won’t sign an extension with Texas, even if they’re given a window of time to negotiate with him as part of the trade. That definitely throws a wrinkle into the negotiations if Texas can’t convince Matt Garza that this organization is the closest he’ll find to being competitive right now and over the next three to five seasons.
Although I am of the belief, as well as in the minority, that Matt Garza can be convinced to sign long term, we should look at players available if Texas balks at the Cubs’ asking price. There have been four volumes before, now it’s time to take a look at volume five.
1. Matt Garza, RHP, Chicago Cubs
Last week: No. 3
Analysis: Matt Garza seems to be Texas’ first choice, and this isn’t the first time. They got close to acquiring him before the 2012 trade deadline before balking at his asking price and acquiring Ryan Dempster instead. This time around, things may be different. Texas wants the right-hander, but they will only go so far for a guy who will be a free agent at the end of the season. That being said, acquiring him should come with a window of time to negotiate a long-term extension. Some think Garza won’t sign it; I think he might. Let’s see what happens.
2. Alex Rios, OF, Chicago White Sox
Last week: No. 1
Analysis: The only reason Rios slips from number one to number two is the Rangers are focused on fixing their starting rotation, which currently has all but one of their opening-day rotation on the disabled list (Derek Holland). They won’t go the rest of the season trying to go from Josh Lindblom to Nick Tepesch to Ross Wolf to Justin Grimm. It won’t happen. Mark Gonzalez, who covers the Chicago White Sox for the Chicago Tribune, told Buster Olney on the Baseball Tonight podcast Texas has had “three of their top scouts watching Rios, so they know exactly what they’re getting.”
3. Alfonso Soriano, OF, Chicago Cubs
Last week: Unranked
Analysis: This is a name I never expected to list, but he’s starting to make too much sense at this point, especially as the full-time designated hitter. Whether or not Texas is talking to Chicago about acquiring both him and Matt Garza is anyone’s guess. Over his last 10 games before the All-Star break, Soriano hit .282 (11/39) with six home runs and 10 RBI. Put him in the middle of guys like Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre, A.J. Pierzynski, Ian Kinsler and Leonys Martin and he becomes an even more dangerous offensive weapon.
4. Jake Peavy, RHP, Chicago White Sox
Last week: No. 9
Analysis: Peavy had a rehab start this past Sunday and gave up just one run over five innings of work at double-A Birmingham. Whether or not he makes at least one start for the White Sox before the trade deadline comes around could be irrelevant. He’s still an asset if you need pitching down the stretch. While Texas is looking at Matt Garza as their top priority, don’t be surprised if they turn to Jake Peavy if the Cubs won’t back off their asking price.
5. Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota Twins
Last week: Unranked
Analysis: Justin Morneau was on my volume-three list but not on volume four. However, with the Rangers needing a designated hitter who can make a full-time impact, not to mention a backup first baseman in case Mitch Moreland can’t get his groove back, I don’t think there’s a better guy to acquire than Justin Morneau. Texas could use help from a guy who hits .298 (53/178) with runners on, .311 (28/98) with runners in scoring position, and .295 (13/44) with runners in scoring position and two outs. Not to mention hitting a whopping .757 (8/11) with the bases loaded. If I gave you a choice to stay with Lance Berkman or acquire someone like Justin Morneau, would you really stick with Berkman for the rest of the season?
6. Marlon Byrd, OF, New York Mets
Last week: No. 7
Analysis: Marlon Byrd certainly isn’t the first option or perhaps even the second option for the Texas Rangers as far as acquiring an outfielder, but he’s certainly someone they are keeping an eye on. Byrd is having a pretty solid season for the Mets after signing a minor-league deal with the team. The former Rangers outfielder is hitting .271 with 15 home runs and 51 RBI, but in the last 10 games before the All-Star break, Byrd hit .318 (14/44) with three homers and 11 RBI. He may not be Plan A or even Plan B, but the Rangers are more than likely keeping their eyes on him.
7. Andre Ethier, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Last week: No. 10
Analysis: Andre Ethier is one guy who comes with a big if: The Texas Rangers should be interested if the Los Angeles Dodgers agree to throw in a ton of cash to pay what’s left of the ridiculous deal they gave him a few years ago. He’s not at the top of the list, but I certainly think he’s someone worth looking into, especially since he doesn’t fit with the Dodgers since Yasiel Puig burst onto the scene and Carl Crawford is coming off the disabled list.
8. Travis Wood, LHP, Chicago Cubs
Last week: No. 4
Analysis: Over his last 10 starts, Wood has given up three runs or less but has come out as the winner in just two of those starts to go along with four no-decisions in his last five starts. If that doesn’t say “my offense doesn’t give me much help” I don’t know what does. Wood, however, told Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago that he’d like to discuss a long-term extension with the team. This is a left-hander who is still only 26 years old and would be a solid addition with other left-handers Derek Holland and Martin Perez.
9. Michael Cuddyer, OF, Colorado Rockies
Last week: Unranked
Analysis: Cuddyer is a guy I’ve been looking at before writing each of these updates. But the one thing I couldn’t convince myself of is the Rockies willingness to trade him, especially with one more year on his deal and the kind of season he’s having. Not only that, the Rockies aren’t exactly out of the NL West race, so why waive the white flag when you can make a run at the division title? There’s no question Cuddyer makes this team stronger, especially with his power in the lineup. However, I’m still not convinced the Rockies deal him before July 31 but that won’t keep me from putting him on the list for the first time.
10. Francisco Rodriguez, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
Last week: No. 2
Analysis: Although the Texas Rangers definitely need another starting pitcher, and they definitely need another bat in the lineup, I also think they could use another reliever. Getting Joakim Soria back was a huge lift, especially with the amount of work that was being put on Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Ross and Neal Cotts. There’s no such thing as a bullpen that’s “too good” or “too deep.” The man formerly known as “K-Rod” with the then Anaheim Angels, has given up just two earned runs in his last 15.1 innings pitched.