Any hope for the Texas Rangers to be competitive in the 2015 season seemed to go out the window when it was announced last month that pitcher Yu Darvish was going under the knife for Tommy John surgery. It seemed the injury curse of last season simply continued into the spring for this club. Don’t tell that to GM Jon Daniels. Apparently he believes in making his own luck.
Patience is a virtue, but Daniels knew that he had to keep his eyes open for the right opportunity and strike quickly when it presented itself. He did not hesitate Tuesday night when Phillies GM Ruben Amaro finally caved and agreed to trade pitching ace Cole Hamels to the Rangers with Ryan Howard and cash in exchange for Shin-Soo Choo, Martin Perez and top prospect Jake Thompson.
Rangers top prospect Joey Gallo was tops on Amaro’s wish list (make that his insistence), but Daniels would not budge.
Instead, Daniels agreed to take Howard off the Phillies’ hands and replace Gallo with Perez to get the long-talked-about deal finalized. Good thing for the Rangers that Daniels had support from ownership to take on Howard’s big contract, but they did get some monetary relief from Philadelphia as well.
Longing for pitching help since Darvish went down, this is the deal that Daniels had to wait out, and he didn’t have to give up the farm in the process.
First and foremost, retaining Gallo was priority number one. Adding Hamels re-energizes the top of the Rangers’ starting rotation alongside Derek Holland and Yovani Gallardo, giving the team three solid options. Colby Lewis and Nick Martinez should round out the back of the rotation.
Other than the loss of Choo, I see no downside to this deal. Choo was an on-base machine and gave Texas a quality corner man to play every day in the outfield. Perhaps Howard can fill that role for the Rangers. Perez? We have no idea if he will ever return to his old form after Tommy John surgery last season.
Opportunity knocked and Daniels answered. So what does this deal mean for the Rangers’ chances to compete in the American League West this season? I’m cautiously optimistic, but I think this places them right back in the mix, with the Angels and Mariners creating a very competitive field. Never count out the Athletics, either. Moneyball is alive and well.
Lastly, this huge trade does exactly what it was intended to do – it invigorates the fan base, the perception of the team, and most importantly, the clubhouse. The move tells every player that management is committed to winning this season, and simply won’t stand by without a fight.
Some may question the trade, but I don’t. No one really wanted Howard, but that’s part of the cost of doing business. At the end of the day, the Rangers got another ace, a proven bat that simply wants to get to work, and a belief that 2015 may not be a lost cause. Those that feel otherwise should simply put together the first letter of each paragraph of this piece and lighten up.