No matter how hard they have tried to spin things positively this off-season, the Texas Rangers knew all along that they were short a starting pitcher.
No offense to Ross Detwiler or the venerable Colby Lewis, but the Rangers can do better than to have either of them as their No. 3 starter or Nick Tepesch as their No. 5 starter.
Club officials know it, and some have been frustrated by the timing of ownership’s decision to go cheap in an off-season flush with terrific starting pitchers.
Reportedly there has been a breakthrough, though no word was coming out of Rangers headquarters Sunday night.
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At the very least, the Rangers have been in heavy talks with Milwaukee about a trade for Yovani Gallardo, who was reared into a big league pitcher in Fort Worth a decade ago. He turned down a scholarship offer to TCU after the Brewers selected him in the second round out of Trimble Tech High in 2004, but he still lives in the area near Eagle Mountain Lake.
For now, the story is that the Rangers have acted to fix a glaring need for 2015 — though the final details of how they pulled it off won’t be known until Monday at the earliest — and possibly for future seasons.
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Gallardo, who turns 29 on Feb. 27, would join Yu Darvish and Derek Holland atop the Rangers’ rotation, probably behind them and ahead of Lewis and Detwiler.
Gallardo, an All-Star in 2010, is 89-64 with a 3.69 ERA in his career. He has logged at least 30 starts in each of the past six seasons and posted a career-best 3.51 ERA in 2014.
Gallardo is the kind of pitcher every team needs. Pitching coach Mike Maddux, who worked with Gallardo in Milwaukee before joining the Rangers, would trumpet that. But Gallardo is not Max Scherzer or James Shields.
The remaining big-ticket free-agent pitchers this winter are beyond the Rangers’ financial grasp. Even though oil prices are tanking, it’s hard to believe that owners Ray Davis and Bob Simpson, made Forbes-rich by oil, suddenly have no money to spend.
Maybe they shook their couch cushions and found enough loose change to cover the $13 million Gallardo is owed in the final year of his contract.
But for those who believe general manager Jon Daniels, who has been forced to tell everyone that the Rangers have no money, the Brewers are being asked to pay a considerable chunk of Gallardo’s salary.
The more salary the Brewers take on, the better the players they will get in return. Fox Sports reported that infielder Jurickson Profar isn’t in the deal, but Tepesch could be. Maybe the Brewers will get a young reliever. Maybe they will get a few prospects to bolster one of the worst farm systems in the game.
That’s a reasonable cost for a pitcher who would help the Rangers immediately and who would want to hang around the Rangers’ rotation beyond 2015. Gallardo would be open to discussing a contract extension with the Rangers for a chance to be around his family year-round.
The Rangers, in turn, will need a veteran presence in their rotation.
Lewis, the medical marvel, will turn 36 this season and be a free agent next winter. Detwiler, who hasn’t started since 2013, will be a free agent for the first time next winter.
Matt Harrison, once a rotation fixture, can’t be counted on with all that metal in his back, though many are rooting for him to return.
Darvish, Holland and Martin Perez, who is due back in July from Tommy John surgery, will have at least two years left on their contracts after this season, but the Rangers will have two holes to fill for 2016.
There are plenty of rotation prospects, headed by Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez, but Gallardo would be a proven commodity pitching in a division that continues to get stronger.
The Rangers appeared to be moving toward Gallardo on Sunday. They knew they had a hole in their rotation that needed to be filled.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760
Filling a need
A look at Yovani Gallardo’s statistics in his eight big-league seasons: