Buried in this article by Bob Nightengale of USA Today about Nelson Cruz's absence hurting the Rangers is this little nugget about how the Rangers tried to solve their outfield woes in July – by trying to trade for Braves left fielder Justin Upton.
The Rangers, trying to solve that power void, tried to pull off a blockbuster deal for Atlanta Braves outfielder Justin Upton before the July 31 trade deadline. The Rangers offered starter Matt Garza, All-Star closer Joe Nathan and outfielder David Murphy, but they were rejected, two high-ranking club officials told USA TODAY Sports
Talk about desperation, and ridiculous desperation at that. Garza and Murphy will both be free agents after the season, while Nathan has a club option for $9 million for the 2014 season, which is an obscene cost for a franchise like Atlanta to pay for a reliever that isn't even their best reliever. Furthermore, Murphy has been terrible this year, hitting .220/.280/.376 to go along with a severe platoon split against left-handers
So essentially, Texas GM Jon Daniels was trying to improve his team's offense for 2013, 2014, and 2015 while giving the Braves, who were already in the midst of running away with the NL East at the time, a downgrade on offense while potentially improving a pitching staff that didn't need much improving.
Someone called this a trade you'd make in a video game, and that's a comparison that makes a lot of sense. Atlanta didn't need to vastly revamp their team, and they wouldn't be trading Upton for three impending free agents less than six months after trading four minor leaguers and their starting third baseman for him. While it's true that Upton hasn't been as great as expected (.260/.353/.463), he still leads the club with 26 home runs and has been one of the most valuable hitters on the team this year. Going from Upton to Murphy would have been a huge downgrade for Atlanta, and you need to wonder where the team would have been if they didn't have Upton and his .298/.392/.631 August line after the trade.