The Minnesota Twins Acquire Jaime Garcia: How Important Was the Move?
With the Cleveland Indians failing to take control of the American League Central, the door has been left slightly ajar for the remainder of the division to stay within striking distance of the defending AL champs.
Among those teams is the Minnesota Twins, who are supposed to be in the middle of a rebuilding effort, yet find themselves just 3.5 games out with less than a week before the trade deadline.
Entering Tuesday, the Twins were 49-49, good enough for third place in the AL Central. Much to the surprise of everybody -- probably themselves included -- they have a shot at the division title, so without mortgaging the future, Minny traded for a veteran left-handed arm for the rotation, swinging a deal with the Atlanta Braves for southpaw Jaime Garcia. As a likely rental, Garcia cost the Twins just minor league hurler Huascar Ynoa.
This is not a move that will shift the balance of power in the division, but it does give Minnesota a stabilizing presence in the middle of the rotation.
The Braves traded for Garcia in the off-season and, for the most part, he has been steady, if unspectacular. In 18 starts, the 31-year-old is 4-7 with a 4.30 ERA and a FIP of 4.14. He has struck out 17.9% of batters faced this year and walked 8.7%, with both those numbers being slightly worse than last year's output.
However, it has been a tale of two seasons: In his first 12 starts, he posted an ERA of 3.16 and opponents were batting just .232/.304/.372 against him. In his last six outings, his ERA has jumped to 6.75, while opponents are hitting .292/.346/.493.
None of that factors in Garcia's ability to hit dingers, which he did in his last start against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Jaime GarcÃa hits a grand slam off Alex Wood, because baseball pic.twitter.com/EHXRhLflSe
â€” MLB Insider Dinger (@atf13atf) July 22, 2017
It is a crying shame that bat is going to waste in the American League.
Garcia will slot in third in the Twins' rotation, following Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios, and has been relatively healthy since sitting for most of 2013-14 with injuries. He made 30 starts last season and hasn't missed a turn in the rotation yet this year, either.
Garcia's main skill is getting ground balls, which he has done at a rate of 55.4% this season, the 7th-highest rate among qualified MLB starters this season.
Is this a move that makes the Twins the favorite in the AL Central? No, but it moves everyone in the lower portion of the starting rotation down a peg, and gives the team a veteran and playoff-tested presence.
It's a smart move for a franchise that surprisingly finds itself in the middle of a playoff race.