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TEXAS RANGERS
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Acquired RHP Yovani Gallardo and $4 million from the Brewers in exchange for SS-S Luis Sardinas and RHPs Corey Knebel and Marcos Diplan. [1/19]

Remember when Jon Daniels turned the Rangers into the practically perfect organization? Daniels had a highly competitive big-league roster, a stocked farm system, and enough financial might to maintain those attributes. Times were so sweet in Texas that Sam Miller compared their theoretical collapse to those suffered by befallen civilizations, as if to say an act of God was the only way the Rangers would drop from the baseball heavens anytime soon.

That act happened last season. The Rangers finished last in the American League West thanks to myriad injuries, including enough to leave the rotation threadbare. The good news for Daniels and the Rangers is the potential for significant improvement, especially if Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, and Martin Perez stay well. Yet last season impacted appraisals of the Rangers. Nobody seems to think Texas is the practically perfect organization anymore, and some may dismiss them as divisional threats—a belief no doubt reinforced by Daniels' otherwise boring winter.

Gallardo isn't going to alter the perception of the 2015 Rangers much on his own; he's not the x-factor who can convert skeptics into believers. He is, nonetheless, a good fit no matter how the Rangers fare—particularly given the cost of what amounts to depth pieces.

The main appeal with Gallardo is his durability. He ranks 20th in innings since 2009, an important year because it began his streak of consecutive 30-plus start seasons. His velocity and strikeout rate have dipped in recent years, but he's combated those trends' affect on his raw numbers by improving upon his ground-ball percentage. The result is a middle-of-the-rotation profile in stuff and stats (PECOTA, for reference, pegs him for a 3.71 ERA, about the same as Bartolo Colon and Brandon McCarthy).

Since Gallardo is a free agent at season's end, there's little long-term risk here as it pertains to his performance. Yet there is potential for long-term reward. Gallardo doesn't feel like a surefire bet to receive a qualifying offer, but his multi-year numbers compare well to those posted by Francisco Liriano and Ervin Santana:

Three-Year Comparison of Gallardo and Select Qualifying Offer Pitchers

Pitcher

IP

ERA

FIP

Age (on 4/1/15)

Francisco Liriano

480

3.90

3.61

31

Gallardo

577

3.77

3.93

29

Ervin Santana

585

4.06

4.27

32

And so the Rangers could benefit from acquiring Gallardo in various ways, provided of course he does his part on the field. Whether the end result is an extension, trade, or recouped draft pick is to be determined. However it shakes out, consider this an opportunistic move by Daniels—one that reminds you how he shaped the Rangers into an enviable organization in the first place. —R.J. Anderson

Fantasy Impact

Yovani Gallardo

Gallardo rebounded last year on the strength of his groundball rate and stingier walk rate. In essence, he’s become a groundball pitcher, rather than the borderline ace he was several seasons prior. However, he transitions to the American League, which should cause some trouble for mid-rotation starters. Gallardo has posted FIPs of 3.94, 3.89, and 3.94 over the past three years, respectively. Moving to the more difficult league should make it more difficult for him to outpitch his peripheral numbers, especially since his stuff has suffered a decline.

Nick Martinez

The arrival of Gallardo should largely quell the spring training battle for the fifth-starter spot. Martinez started 24 games and threw 140 innings for the Rangers last year after making the arduous jump from Double-A, but he never became relevant in fantasy leagues. He struggled to miss bats and is a fly-ball machine. That’s not an attractive option for fantasy owners, and if you’re really looking for someone to stash for the Rangers’ rotation, you’re better off looking toward midseason-returnee Martin Perez.

Nick Tepesch, SP

It’s much of the same story for Tepesch, who struggled to miss bats and wasn’t on fantasy owners’ radar last year. The right-hander lost about a mile per hour on his fastball and saw his swinging-strike rate drop from 8.6 percent to a mere 5.7 percent. The margin for error is small for Tepesch, and he’ll either be in the bullpen or Triple-A to begin the year. You’ll want to look elsewhere, even in AL-only leagues. J.P. Breen

MILWAUKEE BREWERS
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Acquired SS-S Luis Sardinas and RHPs Corey Knebel and Marcos Diplan from Texas Rangers in exchange for RHP Yovani Gallardo and $4 million. [1/19]

The price of a much-needed mid-rotation arm turns out to be three intriguing prospects. The most recognizable name among the trio is infielder Luis Sardinas, consistently ranked as one of the Rangers' top prospects in a deep system. Sardinas is a glove-first infielder with more than enough chops to handle shortstop. He has a quick first step with very good hands and a plus arm that fits on the left side of the dirt. Offensively, Sardinas has strong bat-to-ball skills that allow him to make consistent contact and spray the ball to all fields. He lacks strength in his swing and hits far too many groundballs, leaving his offensive profile empty and purely batting average driven. If Sardinas maxes out an above-average hit tool and plus speed, he could survive as an everyday player. If he comes up short of that projection, Sardinas fits better as a utility player and might just be keeping the seat warm in Milwaukee until Orlando Arcia arrives.

Traded for the second time in six months, Knebel was acquired along with Jake Thompson from the Tigers for Joakim Soria. Long projected as a high octane setup reliever, Knebel’s prospect stock is clouded by ligament problems in his right elbow; it's an issue that cropped up toward the end of the 2014 season. When healthy, Knebel can run his fastball up to 97-98 mph and will sit in the 94-95 mph range with excellent life. Though Knebel has shown a broader arsenal at times, he typically focuses on pumping his fastball and backing it up with his hammer curveball that has earned 70 grades from scouts since his amateur days. Knebel has some effort to his delivery and that results in quality deception that can help his often-poorly located fastball remain difficult to hit. If his elbow holds up as the 2015 season gets underway, Knebel could play a substantial role in the Brewers bullpen.

The final player heading to the Brewers is right-hander Marcos Diplan, a high-ceiling arm who is light years away from the big leagues but full of potential. On the smaller side at just 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds, Diplan leaves some scouts projecting additional growth that could leave him with a body that rates closer to average. Despite his size and youth (he's 18 this year), Diplan can push his fastball up to 95 mph and will regularly sit around 89-92 mph. Behind his fastball, Diplan can flash both a curveball and changeup that will show average at times, and though they lack consistency, his feel for the offerings is solid for his age. Diplan’s mechanics need some work and during his 2014 debut mechanical issues often prevented him from throwing strikes, so he will need to prove he can overcome this issue moving forward. Many scouts believe Diplan’s combination of effort in his delivery and small stature will ultimately lead him toward a relief role, but if he can take advantage of his athleticism and make strides commanding his arsenal, he has an ultimate ceiling as a mid-rotation starter. —Mark Anderson

Fantasy Impact

Luis Sardinas

The slick-fielding shortstop isn’t seeing his fantasy value rise because he’s on the verge of a starting role in Milwaukee; however, he does have two things going in his favor. First, he has been removed from the crowded infield in Texas. Owners no longer have to worry about him jockeying for position with Jurickson Profar, Elvis Andrus, and Rougned Odor—especially since he wasn’t going to unseat any of them, even long-term. Secondly, Sardinas could see some playing time against tough lefties at second base, if Scooter Gennett proves unable to handle them. The 21-year-old hit .271 against southpaws last year between Double-A, Triple-A, and the majors. It will be an empty average, but the Brewers like to run and he could net some stolen bases on the cheap if he can claw his way into a platoon role by the middle of the year.

Corey Knebel

The Brewers don’t have a long-term closer. Jonathan Broxton has a leg up on the competition this year, but he’s only a one-year solution and Will Smith hasn’t shown that he can consistently retire righties. Knebel has a dynamic fastball-curveball combination that can miss bats. If his elbow remains healthy, he could see some save opportunities as early as this season, and it certainly seems feasible by 2016.

Jimmy Nelson

Nelson is perhaps the player who receives the greatest increase in fantasy value from this trade. The right-hander has everything you want from a starting pitcher: fastball velocity, a swing-and-miss breaking ball, and a lofty groundball rate. Some scouts believe he could eventually develop into a legitimate no. 2 starter, and the Brewers are poised to unleash him in 2015. One could argue he suffered his growing pains in his 69 innings in the majors last year, making him ready to take a big step forward. The right-hander also has a strong history of massive improvement upon repeating a level. Fantasy owners hope he can replicate what Wily Peralta did a year ago, as they’re similar pitchers. Peralta was a fringe top-50 starter. Nelson could offer that kind of value as soon as this year, and if the changeup develops, he could be a solid starter—even in standard mixed leagues.

Scooter Gennett

Gennett was always going to be a platoon option for fantasy players in 2015, but with the addition of Sardinas, it seems he could revert to a platoon role once again in real life. I still believe the diminutive second baseman has the natural bat-to-ball skills to be passable against southpaws. It just won’t come with any power, and Sardinas could prove to be a better option, especially considering his lovely glovework in the field. I’m not downgrading him because owners should already consider him a platoon option, but the addition could affect his playing time. —J.P. Breen

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buddha
1/20
I wish Yovani could have stayed in the NL, a I shall miss his hitting prowess amongst his fellow moundsmen.
TwinsfanTravis
1/20
Possible ramifications for Jean Segura?
Mokajige
1/20
Any thoughts on where these kids would fit on the Brewers top prospect list?
asstarr1
1/20
Are there still rumors that Sardinas could be flipped to the Nationals along with others for Jordan Zimmerman?
jfranco77
1/20
Sardinas probably platoons with Scooter while also getting looks at SS and 3B. I believe Aramis Ramirez is gone after this year? An empty average guy isn't ideal at 3B, but if he comes with a good glove and you're short on other options, he could be interesting.