With the 2022 regular season over, it is that time where we go back and take a look at the players who appeared for the Texas Rangers this past season.
Today, we look at relief pitcher Matt Bush.
Matt Bush turns 37 in February. For the first time in seven years, he won’t be spending his spring training in Surprise, Arizona, having been dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers last July.
It continues to be remarkable to me that Matt Bush is still an active major leaguer. He was the #1 overall pick in the 2004 MLB Draft, taken one spot ahead of Justin Verlander, who seems ancient. Jered Weaver and Huston Street, who were drafted in the first round that year, are on the Hall of Fame ballot this year, they’ve been retired for so long. Other names from the top of the draft — Philip Humber, Mark Rogers, Chris Nelson — are only the vaguest of memories now.
That was the Thomas Diamond/Eric Hurley draft, incidentally, if you want to feel nostalgic and disappointed at the same time.
Matt Bush keeps plugging along. He was a big part of the Rangers’ bullpen in their last playoff appearance. He got hurt in 2018, rehabbed, tore his UCL, had Tommy John surgery, returned to the majors in 2021, landed on the injured list almost immediately, defied the odds and got back to the active roster before the season was over.
He was back with the Rangers in 2022, though to be honest, I have no really memory of him from last year. After so many years of him being with the organization, rehabbing, trying to get healthy, its like he just faded, became part of the background noise of the organization.
He pitched well for Texas in 2022. A 2.95 ERA and a 3.41 FIP in 40 appearances before getting traded in July.
And that trade was somewhat remarkable, just because it seemed like Matt Bush would be a Ranger for life. He’d keep hanging around, getting released or non-tendered periodically and then re-signed to a minor league deal, for as long as his arm was still functional, or there was a possibility of his arm becoming functional again.
The idea of Matt Bush pitching elsewhere seemed unfathomable. Given his history, injury and otherwise, the idea of some other team giving up substantive value for him wasn’t even on the radar.
And yet, someone did. The Milwaukee Brewers gave up Antoine Kelly and Mark Mathias for Bush at the trade deadline. And while that isn’t a system-changing haul, its more than one would have expected for a late-30s oft-injured relief pitcher.
Bush, incidentally, didn’t pitch well for Milwaukee post-trade. I thought that he might be non-tendered, which would likely have resulted in him signing another minor league deal with the Rangers, and returning to Surprise for yet another spring. But that was not to be.
Instead Bush will be down the road from Surprise, in Phoenix, where the Brewers train. The Rangers may face him at some point in spring training. We will see if he can keep it going for 2023, see if he can keep it going beyond that. Matt Bush is going to keep going out there and throwing hard an inning at a time for as long as teams will keep giving him the opportunity.