Doesn’t matter much now that a deal with the Cubs is complete, but according to Peter Gammons — and information passed along by T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com — the Rangers pushed hard for Matt Garza this week.
The Rangers were willing to part with left-hander Derek Holland, right-handed reliever Frank Francisco and prospect outfielder Engel Beltre in a potential deal. Interestingly, the Rangers also attempted to secure catcher-infielder Robinson Chirinos from the Cubs in order to include him in the trade for Garza. Of course, the Rays eventually cut out the middleman, acquiring Chirinos on their own yesterday.
According to the report, the Rays preferred the offer from the Cubs because they were willing to include top pitching prospect Chris Archer. Not only does it look like the Rays took the deal with the best long-term upside here, but there probably wouldn’t have been a spot for Holland in their rotation this season, anyway.
The Tampa Bay Rays have signed lefty swingman Ryan Merritt to a minor league contract. Nah, it’s not a big signing but we’ll take anything today.
Merritt, who has spent his entire career in the Indians organization, spent the entire 2018 season at Triple-A Columbus. It wasn’t a bad year for him — he posted a 3.79 ERA and a 52/2 K/BB ratio in 13 starts and two relief appearances covering 71.1 innings — but the Tribe just couldn’t find a role for him at the big league level. He has shown in the past, however, that he can hack it in the bigs, having posted a 1.71 ERA in 31.2 innings with the Indians between 2016-2017.
His thing is that he simply doesn’t strike guys out at anything approaching a typical clip for a big leaguer: 3.7 per nine innings in his small sample of major league outings and 6.3 Ks per nine innings in the minors. Which, while it may not prevent him from having success at the big league level, is likely a reason for the limited number of chances he’s been given.
The Rays are probably the best place he could go, frankly. They’ve shown themselves willing to utilize guys in unique ways and are more likely than most teams to find places to spot a lefty control specialist who has shown he can both start and come out of the pen.