Gil LeBreton

There’s still time for another Rangers surprise

The Brewers agreed to pay $4 million of Yovani Gallardo’s $13 million salary in a deal that sends the pitcher to the Rangers. Texas could use that money to acquire another hitter.
The Brewers agreed to pay $4 million of Yovani Gallardo’s $13 million salary in a deal that sends the pitcher to the Rangers. Texas could use that money to acquire another hitter. MCT

Aha!

I knew that if owners Ray Davis and Bob Simpson looked under their sofa cushions, they might find enough coins to spend a little something on the Texas Rangers’ pitching.

Granted, the $9 million that will go to pitcher Yovani Gallardo for 2015 is not exactly spare change. But it’s $9 million more than general manager Jon Daniels had been saying the club was going to spend.

It’s also not Max Scherzer-sized money, nor even what James Shields apparently still thinks he can get. But it’s an excellent fit for a team that, whether it wanted to admit it in December or not, was running about one starting pitching arm short.

The expected rotation now includes Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Gallardo, Colby Lewis and probably whoever wins the No. 5 spot from a scrum that consists of Ross Detwiler, Nick Tepesch and Nick Martinez.

And if all goes well with his rehab, lefty Martin Perez will rejoin the rotation in July.

What other surprises will Daniels have before the Rangers report to Arizona?

For the investment’s sake, there had better be another bat in those Ray and Bob sofas. The prospect of opening the season with Mitch Moreland — with an OPS-plus last season of 82 — as designated hitter looms as a risky roll of the dice.

OPS-plus measures a hitter’s on-base and slugging percentages adjusted for the player’s home park. Anything below 100 is underwhelming.

The Rangers and Moreland’s agent have exchanged arbitration figures, with the latter asking for a $700,000 raise over the $2.65 million that Mitch earned in 2014.

This is one arbitration hearing that Daniels and his number-crunchers might want to let happen. The comparables do not favor a 29-year-old who, since May of 2012, has ranked as the least-productive first baseman in the American League.

Moreland possibly would have been non-tendered by the club had it not been for Prince Fielder’s health status. After surgery, Fielder needs to show he’s ready to play.

From Daniels’ perspective, the best part of the Gallardo deal is what the Rangers didn’t have to send to the Milwaukee Brewers.

No Jurickson Profar. No Nomar Mazara. No Jorge Alfaro. No Joey Gallo.

What they did give up wasn’t packing peanuts. But Luis Sardinas was double-blocked in the Rangers’ starting infield. Pitcher Marcos Diplan just turned 18 years old. And pitcher Corey Knebel was hurt last season after coming over in a July trade with Detroit. Look at it another way: The Rangers traded reliever Joakim Soria to the Tigers for a very promising 21-year-old pitcher, Jake Thompson, and a trade piece that helped them to land Gallardo.

The fact that Daniels was able to get Milwaukee to pay $4 million of Gallardo’s $13 million salary this season just makes the deal more Rangers-friendly.

Daniels has been forwarding the case for Ryan Rua all winter whenever the media has asked him about the lineup’s missing bat. There are other outfield/DH candidates, but Rua’s is the name most mentioned.

That qualifies as a quiet response, even for Daniels, who tends to operate as quietly as a submarine.

But he now has $4 million (figuratively) of the Brewers’ money, plus all of his most prized prospects, plus whatever Ray and Bob can find again in their sofas, to add the starting bat.

There’s still time for another surprise.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @gillebreton

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