I've been thinking about the Texas front-office philosophies a lot over the past 24 hours or so. Specifically, I've been thinking about all of the turmoil and and turnover the past year-plus has brought.
First, there was the Nolan Ryan saga. I don't think I need to rehash that one for you. Then, A.J. Preller took the GM job in San Diego, a well-deserved promotion where he's already making waves in baseball for not being scared to make bold moves. Longtime scout Don Welke -- a guy that had a hand in many of the big acquisitions that made the Rangers a contending ball club -- followed Preller to San Diego.
Jon Daniels has been oftentimes criticized in the past few years. Some of those reasons have been well-based, such as the Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza trades. Looking back, those deals don't look so great. Other reasons, such as a supposed "power struggle" with Nolan Ryan, don't seem so well-founded to people like myself, but everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion.
Looking back to December of 2012, Jon Daniels took a risk by signing Joakim Soria. At the time, Soria was coming off of Tommy John Surgery, and didn't figure to be in the bullpen mix until late in the 2013 season. That proved to be the case. The gamble, at the time, was that it would then be safe to let closer Joe Nathan walk and let either Nefali Feliz or Soria close games in 2014. Soria won that job out of Spring Training almost a year ago.
When it became apparent that the season was lost, Texas put Soria on the market, and Detroit came calling. Fast-forward to today, and the Soria signing looks even better.
Not only did Texas sign a low-risk deal for a pitcher with high upside in Soria, but he ended up netting Texas additional assets. Essentially, the front office moved Soria, a middle infielder that didn't have a place to play in Texas in Luis Sardinas, and an extremely raw 18-year old pitcher in Marcos Diplan for both Jake Thompson and Yovani Gallardo.
In the short term, Gallardo figures to slot into the middle of the rotation. In the not-so-distant future, Thompson figures to be a middle-of-the-rotation guy himself, if projections on him prove to be accurate. Those guys aren't nearly as flashy as Yu Darvish, Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, etc., but they're extremely valuable. More importantly, they don't grow on trees. For every stud pitcher, there are plenty of pitchers like Joe Saunders and Jerome Williams -- guys that make you hold your breath with every pitch in hopes that they don't give up the big hit.
That, I think, is where I really want to go with this. Rather than taking the sometimes-simpler course of throwing money at holes in the roster on a yearly basis, the Rangers have shown that while, yes, they're willing to spend some money, that sometimes it's just as prudent -- if not more so -- to build a strong farm system that can be used to solidify the Major League club. In this case, it meant dealing from a deep pool of prospects, fill a hole, all while not giving up any "trophy" prospects.
Only time will tell exactly how much this trade helps Texas in 2015, but I feel it's only appropriate to take a moment and appreciate that Jon Daniels and his front office are still more than capable of running a professional baseball organization. While teams like the Mets and Phillies are mired in medocrity due to a failure to build from within, the Rangers are, at the very least, relevant. And really, prior to actual baseball games starting, I think that's all we can really ask for.