For four more innings, if nothing else, Yovani Gallardo of the Texas Rangers continued his run-foiling, gravity-defying pitching Tuesday night.
And therein lies the dilemma.
Gallardo, proud product of Fort Worth’s Trimble Tech, has pitched so well for his home team this season, the Rangers need to (choose one):
▪ thank him
▪ trade him
▪ sign him immediately to a four-year contract extension.
Be careful how you answer that. Gallardo’s pitching address in the weeks ahead is roundly expected to mirror how the people who run the Rangers feel about the 2015 club.
Postseason hopefuls don’t trade away their best pitchers.
All other teams, alas, must weigh their options.
The Rangers appear to be poised on the ledge with the latter group, the dozen or so teams torn between a rock and a wild-card playoff spot.
Do they swap their best pitcher of 2015 for a bounty of young talent, or do they journey beyond the All-Star break flying the flag of the Undecideds?
The Gallardo issue isn’t as cut and dried as it once seemed.
Acquired from the Brewers in January in a trade that sent three prospects to Milwaukee, Gallardo has assumed the role of this year’s No. 1 starter and has posted an All-Star-caliber season.
Jeff Banister didn’t want to get into the political subtleties of selecting an All-Star pitching staff, but the Texas manager affirmed before Tuesday’s game that he considers Gallardo an All-Star.
Gallardo began the night with a 2.56 ERA and a scoreless string of 29 1/3 innings. The streak reached 33 1/3 Tuesday before the D’backs scored twice in the fifth and ended major league baseball’s longest no-run streak since Clayton Kershaw posted 41 consecutive innings of zeroes last season.
Gallardo, with all due respect, is no Kershaw. But that’s part of the problem as well.
At age 29, the right-hander can be a free agent after this season. His contract is paying him $13 million this year, and he has clearly pitched as if he deserves a raise.
If free agent James Shields, age 33, received a four-year, $75-million deal from the Padres in the off-season, and Ervin Santana, 32, signed with the Twins for four years and $55 million, what would be the market for Gallardo?
Four years at, maybe, $16 million per year?
Can a ballclub that will pay three players — Shin-Soo Choo, Elvis Andrus and Matt Harrison — a combined $48.45 million next season afford $16 million for what could be its No. 4 starter?
Ever since the Rangers hit the Mark Teixeira lottery, loyal fans have waited for the club to find another golden ticket. But it’s hard to imagine any of the clubs around the .500 mark who would consider Gallardo, scoreless streak and all, the one missing piece in their wild-card run.
By now, general manager Jon Daniels and his gang should have a general idea of what a free agent Gallardo will be worth — and how inclined the hometown kid will be to remain employed in Tarrant County.
This much seems clear: A rotation in 2016 with Yu Darvish, Martin Perez, Derek Holland and Gallardo is a better head start than one without Gallardo.
If the Rangers continue to swirl down the potty hole that this season is fast becoming, Gallardo’s future here will have to be decided. Options will have to be weighed.
Just a week ago, keeping Yovani Gallardo, hometown hero, looked like an easy decision.
Now ... look out below.
Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697