Top third-base prospect joins pitchers Edwards, Grimm in deal
PHOENIX -- For the second straight season, the Cubs helped out the Rangers' rotation, dealing pitcher Matt Garza hours before his scheduled start Monday in exchange for a package of players that includes Minor League third baseman Mike Olt and right-hander C.J. Edwards.
Left-hander Chris Rusin was promoted from Triple-A Iowa and took Garza's place in the mound against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Cubs received Olt, Edwards and right-handed Justin Grimm and will get either one or two more players, to be named later. Minor League right-handed pitcher Neil Ramirez could be added in the deal if he has no further issues with his right shoulder. The Cubs also could choose two other Minor League pitchers instead.
"At the least, we added three pitchers, if not four, in addition to Mike Olt, and that's the kind of depth we need both in power arms and some talented players," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "Any time you trade a guy like Matt Garza, it doesn't feel good because it's a hard decision and you know that guys like Matt are the kind of guys you want to acquire, but we feel good about the depth and talent that we acquired for the Cubs today."
Prospects acquired by Cubs
Mike Olt, 3B: Olt, ranked No. 1 on the Rangers' Top 20 and No. 19 on MLB's Top 100 Prospects list at the time of the trade, entered the 2013 season as one of the better power-hitting prospects in the Minors. But a vision problem, one that most feel stemmed from a concussion he suffered after getting hit in the head during the Dominican this past winter, led to a woeful start. Olt did appear on the way back with a June that saw him post an .883 OPS. He's hit 10 homers in 45 games since his return to Triple-A. There's always swing and miss to his game, but if his blurred vision is a thing of his past, he still has the chance to be a productive power-hitting third baseman in the big leagues.
C.J. Edwards, RHP: Edwards was No. 15 on the Rangers' Top 20, but was certainly making the case to be moved up a few notches. A 48th-round Draft pick in 2011, the tall, lanky right-hander was having a stellar full-season debut. He led the South Atlantic League in ERA and strikeouts at the time of the trade. He's struck out 11.6 per nine innings in his brief professional career. A deceptive delivery makes his above-average fastball tough to pick up while his secondary stuff -- a curve and a changeup -- continue to improve. There's likely more in the tank as he physically matures and as his overall command improves, he has the chance to have a solid three-pitch mix at the Major League level.
Olt, 24, was Texas' first-round pick in 2010 (49th overall). He was batting .213 in 65 games at Triple-A Round Rock, with 11 home runs and 15 doubles, and will get the majority of playing time at third at Triple-A Iowa.
Edwards, 21, the Rangers' 48th-round pick in the 2011 Draft out of Mid-Carolina High School, was 8-2 with a 1.83 ERA in 18 starts at Class A Hickory, with 122 strikeouts in 93 1/3 innings. Grimm has gone 7-7 with a 6.37 ERA over 17 starts with the Rangers.
Hoyer said they tried to acquire Olt last year at the Trade Deadline when they dealt Ryan Dempster to the Rangers. Instead, Chicago acquired Minor League right-hander Kyle Hendricks and third baseman Christian Villanueva. Dempster went 7-3 with a 5.09 ERA for Texas, then signed a two-year, $26.5 million deal with the Red Sox.
Hendricks has done well at Double-A Tennessee, and was the starting pitcher in the Double-A All-Star Game for the North team. He also was the Cubs' Minor League Pitcher of the Month in May. Villanueva, who was with the Cubs in Major League spring camp, was batting .254 with 12 home runs, 24 doubles, two triples and 47 RBIs at Tennessee.
The Rangers, who trail the Athletics in the American League West by three games, were the most aggressive club in pursuit of Garza, who's 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA in his past six outings.
Texas has five starting pitchers on the disabled list (Matt Harrison, Yu Darvish, Alexi Ogando, Nick Tepesch and Colby Lewis) and opened the second half with Derek Holland, Ross Wolf and Martin Perez in the rotation.
The Cubs and Rangers had nearly finalized the deal on Friday, but the trade was delayed so the teams could go over medical reports.
Hoyer said they did discuss a possible contract extension with Garza but, obviously, it didn't get done.
"He's a pitcher you want in your rotation and the kind of player you want to have around," Hoyer said.
This is the second year the Cubs find themselves as sellers, not buyers. The Garza deal is their fifth trade this month. On July 2, they sent Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger to the Orioles for right-handers Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop and traded embattled closer Carlos Marmol to the Dodgers for right-hander Matt Guerrier. They also sent Minor League infielder Ronald Torreyes to the Astros for two international slots. On July 8, the Cubs dealt outfielder Scott Hairston to the Orioles for Minor League pitcher Ivan Pineyro.
Garza will be a free agent after this season, something bidding teams had to factor in their decision when determining which players to part with for what could be a two-month rental.
"What made him attractive is he's been the best pitcher in baseball the last five, six, seven starts," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Monday. "It's probably one of the better stretches he's had in his career. He throws strikes, he's young -- that makes anybody attractive."
Garza was a hot topic at the Trade Deadline last season before an elbow injury sidelined him for the final 2 1/2 months. A strained lat in Spring Training delayed his 2013 start until May 21, and he looked sharp in his season debut, holding the Pirates to one hit over five shutout innings.
"He's one of the hardest-working pitchers you'll ever be around," Sveum said. "Even the four days he doesn't pitch, he's on the bench and rooting his teammates on. You're always going to hear him on the bench. He's one of those special starting pitchers who will always be involved in the game, and position players who play every day and other people appreciate that."