San Diego picked up Joe Thatcher, Will Inman and Steve Garrison for Scott Linebrink this afternoon. For anyone not well versed in minor league players, Inman is by far the key to this deal. Baseball America ranked him #91 on its Top 100 list in the spring, and in many places he's been more highly regarded than that. He has struggled with home runs in AA, but his other numbers are solid, especially for a 20 year old at that level. He's thought of as someone with a limited ceiling, because he is a stocky righty, but like Kasey Kiker, though he may not add stuff through body development, his pitches are already promising.
The other two are useful arms, both lefties. Thatcher has a low release and is still in the process of trying to remove the LOOGY tag, and Garrison is a low ceiling, high intangibles starter in High A. Both were ranked in the 20's in the Milwaukee system over the winter and have presumably risen their status to some degree.
So the two questions are, how does Linebrink compare with the relievers the Rangers are trying to trade, and how well did San Diego do? Linebrink is a reliable setup guy, though he's having a really bad July. Statistically, Joaquin Benoit compares favorably with him, at least this year if not the last three. However, since Linebrink looks like he'll be a FA at the end of the season, the compensation that he will bring also has to be factored here.
Signs aren't pointing to Eric Gagne being traded, but if Linebrink can bring Will Inman and a couple of usable lefty arms, Gagne would figure to bring at least a little more. I think that this has to be a solid sign for what is to come in the next week for the Rangers. I think that Inman is a pretty good bet to become a number three caliber starter for San Diego, and I'd be happy to add guys who are at least that good for one or two of our bullpen arms.