Tampa Bay Rays send James Shields and B.J. Upton to the Texas Rangers for Cody Buckel, Craig Gentry, Leury Garcia and Luke Jackson
The Rangers get another solid starter in Shields, who is still striking out almost a batter per inning and on pace for more than 200 innings in a "down" year. Upton solidifies center field, thus allowing Josh Hamilton to move full time to left field -- his best position -- so he can concentrate on getting his bat back to the dominating form he had in April and May. Rangers brass is convinced that Gentry is a breakout player whose success has been stunted because he’s been mixed and matched in the lineup rather than slotted in as an every-day player. In Tampa, Gentry would get that opportunity as the Rays’ every-day center fielder. The Rays also would control Gentry for the next five years, as opposed to Upton, who will be a free agent in October.
Buckel gives the Rays another future impact starter, and Jackson simply adds to their stockpile of good young arms. Garcia would rival Hak-Ju Lee for the title of the Rays’ best shortstop prospect; the Rangers can deal Garcia only because they have Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar. The Rangers also would be able to hold on to all three of their top prospects in Martin Perez, Mike Olt and Profar while upgrading their starting rotation for another shot at a world championship, and the Rays make a sacrifice today for another shot at tomorrow.
A couple of remarks:
(1) I wonder who "Rangers brass" encompasses here, because one of the big lines of thought on Gentry seems to be that a big reason for his success is that he HASN'T been overexposed -- that is to say, that his overall value would be undercut if he were to be transitioned into more of a full-time role, and that him being selectively utilized as a part-timer has benefited him on the whole. So, it's interesting to see a remark about the limited scope of his playing time actually being deleterious.
(2) What is an "impact starter?" Is it a front-line guy? Is it a mid-rotation starter on a good team? Because the latter is what Buckel could prove to be, and, to be clear, he's a very nice pitching prospect, but I tend to think of "impact" starters as guys with front-line capabilities, and I'm not sure Buckel's upside is sufficient to merit that label. I'm open to persuasion on this point, though. I don't profess to have the greatest feel in the world on Buckel. I defer to the gurus like Parks and Cole and the like on him.
(3) I haven't decided how I should feel about James Shields as of yet.