What with the explosion of Alfonso Soriano rumors yesterday, it was hard to find a moment to dedicate to a review of the reactions to Monday’s trade of Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers for pitcher Justin Grimm, third base prospect Mike Olt, pitching prospect C.J. Edwards, and a PTBNL (or two) that figures to be pretty good.
I think the reaction around here was pretty much universally positive. The return fell right into the range I’d expected, but with the bonus of a nice PTBNL (or two – it’s believed to be pitching prospect Neil Ramirez, or two from a lesser list) on top. Given how much the trade had been built up in Cubs fans’ minds, and how unrealistic the expectations for a return had become, I was pleased that our collective reaction was positive. As it should have been.
But what was the take from everyone else? Did the Cubs get a good deal? Did the Rangers? Here are some nuggets from around the web, including salient bits on the prospects, though every article linked is worth your time:
- Baseball Prospectus has a comprehensive breakdown of everyone in the deal, including a particularly expansive take on C.J. Edwards. Among the comments: “Standing a solid 6-foot-2 and weighing a flimsy ~160 lbs, Edwards has a fluid, whippy delivery and an easy ball release from the hand; his athleticism allows him to stay in his mechanics despite the immature build and awkward length. Right out of the gate Edwards was turning heads, working his fastball in the low-90s with comfort and flashing two promising secondary offerings. Despite making every effort to add weight, Edwards remains quite slim, but he has shown an ability to hold velocity with workload, and has seen the fastball tick up to the 92-95 range, showing the ability to touch even higher.” In other words, although he’s just now arriving at High-A, there are reasons to be exciting about Edwards beyond the eye-popping numbers. It sounds like the stuff and the projection match the numbers, and Edwards could easily be considered a top five pitching prospect in the Cubs’ system immediately (if not top two or three).
- Baseball America offers its take on the deal, and the write-up on Mike Olt is particularly complimentary: “Don’t read too much into Olt’s overall batting line at Triple-A. He entered the season ranked as the No. 22 prospect in the game, but after struggling out of the gate with vision problems, he redeemed himself by batting .247/.353/.506 with 10 homers in 158 at-bats since returning to Round Rock on June 3. Strikeouts will be a permanent fixture of Olt’s game, but that will be an acceptable tradeoff for his plus power production. He led the Texas League in home runs (28) and slugging (.579) in 2012, but he’s more than just a one-trick pony. Scouts rave about his agility, sure-handedness and arm strength at third base, and he forces pitchers to throw him strikes with a disciplined hitting approach—his strikeout-to-walk ratio was about 2-to-1 since June.” The kind words are probably unsurprising, given that BA is the only major publication (that I’ve see) to keep Olt in its top 50 prospects after a midseason update.
- Keith Law really likes the deal for the Cubs, saying that even if the Cubs had only received Olt and Edwards, it would have been a strong return for a Garza rental. On Grimm, Law says that the righty needs to work on his changeup – without an effective one, Grimm is a two-pitch pitcher who probably won’t stick as a starter.
- John Sickels is very high on C.J. Edwards, and suggests he was the best prospect in the deal for the Cubs. That’s unsurprising, given that Sickels ranked Edwards 73 in all of baseball recently, while Mike Olt was unranked. On the balance, though, Sickels liked the deal for both teams.
- Dave Kaplan’s sources say the Cubs did “extremely well” in landing the package they did. Lots of interesting anonymous quotes in that one.
- Jonah Keri, writing at Grantland, likes the deal for the Rangers, given their need, though he says that they “relinquished one of the biggest prospect hauls of any deadline deal in years.” Keri says C.J. Edwards is the prize for the Cubs (together with praise) and Mike Olt is the wild card.
- Grant Brisbee called the deal “fantastic” for the Cubs, and even used it as a predicate to dive into a discussion about how teams might now be giving up too much for rentals. Specifically, I really liked his description of Justin Grimm: “Justin Grimm was in the Rangers’ rotation, and he’s in that void between #6 starter and mid-rotation workhorse. In other words, exactly the kind of pitcher the Cubs should be messing with and the Rangers shouldn’t.” Spot on. The Cubs will be all too happy to let Grimm work on his pitches at AAA, and give him time to emerge as the mid-rotation type that many think he can be.
- On Olt, Jed Hoyer was very complimentary to the media, and indicated that the Cubs have been trying to acquire him for over a year. There is some speculation floating around the ‘net that the Cubs acquired Olt simply because he was one of the most valuable pieces they could get in a Garza deal from the Rangers, and the Cubs will just try to spin him off for what they really want (more pitching). That’s always possible – assets are assets – but I get the sense that the Cubs really do like Olt, and maybe even think they can do something to cut down on the huge K-rate, which is the only thing holding him back from being a super, super elite prospect right now. If I’m the Cubs, I also like the fact that, at almost 25, if and when Olt does come up for good with the Cubs, they’ll have him dirt cheap through his prime years, even without an extension.
- BP’s Jason Parks noted that Olt, for him, would slot into the Cubs’ system just outside the top five (the Big Four plus Arismendy Alcantara). More incredibly, after the trade, Parks says there’s a chance that the Cubs might have eight prospects in the top 101 in baseball. The guess is that it’s those six, plus possibly Pierce Johnson and C.J. Edwards, or maybe Dan Vogelbach or Jeimer Candelario or Arodys Vizcaino or Juan Carlos Paniagua or … you know what? This could go on a while. (Eeeeeeee!)
- Evan Grant reports that the deal might have included infield prospect Rougned Odor (a consensus top 100 type) instead of Justin Grimm, but the Cubs had to settle for the latter when the Rangers raised concerns about Garza’s elbow. That gets a big shrug from me. For one thing, it sounds a little bit like the ex post facto wishcasting you hear after a trade that looks bad, locally, for the Rangers in terms of how much they gave up (fear not, Rangers fans, it could have been worse!). Odor is a better prospect than Grimm, to be sure, but it’s a lot closer than you might think – hell, coming into the season, only Sickels had Odor in the Rangers’ top ten, and all of Sickels, BA and BP had Grimm in the top seven, much higher than Odor. For the Cubs’ needs, Grimm is a near perfect fit, whereas Odor would have been a positional luxury (not that that’s the entire consideration, but you get my point). Further, the only knock on Grimm’s prospect status is the fact that he pitched relatively poorly in the big leagues this year, when he was admittedly rushed into duty. And he wasn’t even that bad, with an xFIP of 4.25 (his .347 BABIP was strikingly high). I’m not saying I would have preferred Grimm over Odor, but I’m not going to say I’m pissed off that things went the way they did, if Grant’s report is accurate.
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