The Texas Rangers’ commitment to not spending money this offseason hit a brief bump this afternoon when the club actually acquired a player you may have heard of. Yovani Gallardo, welcome home, son. God knows your services are needed at the Ballpark.
The Rangers announced they traded for the Trimble Tech grad’ today by sending to the Milwaukee Brewers pitchers Corey Knebel, Marcos Diplan and shortstop Luis Sardinas. The Brewers also sent the Rangers a bucket of cash - think $4 million - to complete the deal. No players the Rangers sent to Milwaukee are labeled as top tier prospects, which makes this deal a win for a team that badly needs to win any move in this oh-so-quiet offseason.
Gallardo, 28, immediately becomes the Rangers’ No. 3 starter behind Yu Darvish and Derek Holland. The threesome of Yu-Holland-Gallardo is postseason legit.
“The focus was to add to the rotation and he was one of the guys we were hoping to land,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said today on a conference call. “We knew that, at least on paper, Milwaukee had six major league starters.”
Gallardo is 89-64 with a 3.69 ERA in his big league career, all with Milwaukee. He was an All-Star in 2010. Even though his strikeout totals have dropped in the past few seasons, he has remained a highly efficient and productive pitcher. He said as he grown older he prefers the easy out over the strikeout (they usually all say that).
The reason the Brewers dealt a pitcher south of 30 who has made 30 starts in each of the past six seasons is money - he is scheduled to make $13 million in 2015, the final year of his contract. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, as a rule of thumb, is not a fan of handing pitchers long term extensions. In his mind, better to deal him now when he knows he can get something in return.
I asked JD if he has had any extension discussions with Gallardo’s agent, but so far that is a no.
“The timing of it I’m not sure,” he said. “Definitely open to it.”
I asked Gallardo on the same conference call if he felt any more pressure to have a great year because of the potential to make giant money after a good year as a starting pitcher. Quality free agent starting pitchers in MLB normally command stupid money. Hell ... bad free agent starting pitchers in MLB often sign for stupid money.
“Not at all. I’m here to prepare for spring training and to get the season underway; things will fall into place,” he said. “That’s something to talk about later in the year, or in the offseason.”
Or, if the season flies due south again, in July when the Rangers could trade him for prospects to a contending team.
Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux worked with Gallardo before when they were in Milwaukee together in Gallardo’s first year. Rangers manager Jeff Banister, who was with the Pittsburgh Pirates before he came to the Rangers, saw Gallardo when the two were in the National League Central for several seasons.
“Four-pitch mix; fast ball, curve, slider, change. At times he showed a fastball with the mix that could get by the hitters,” Bannister said. “He loved to compete. He went out there and he really wanted to show our hitters that he was in command every time he faced us.”
Now, after Gallardo the Rangers have a collection of Huh? and Who? competing for the fourth and fifth spot.
“It takes more than one guy,” Gallardo said today on the same conference call. “I’m always going to have that little bit of pressure. You want to be out there and have the ball every five days and be that guy on the mound.”
Adding Gallardo gives the Rangers a reliable starter, and for the moment qualifies as a win in an offseason where the team has deliberately gone out of its way not to do much.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7760