Non waiver trade deadline days away

by Dan M | Posted on Thursday, July 26th, 2018

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BY DIC HUMPHREY
DIC.HUMPHREY@YAHOO.COM

ARLINGTON, Texas – The non-waiver trade deadline is just days
away – next Tuesday at 3:00 PM Central time.  These are nervous times
in Arlington.  The team was out of contention before May, such that
this became a season of rebuilding early.  It was obvious that the
Rangers would be dealing veterans for prospects in July, and the
speculation has included almost the entire roster.  Contending teams
are always looking for pitching help, so almost every reliever on the
team has been mentioned in trade speculation.  From the starting
rotation, there has been heavy speculation on Cole Hamels getting
traded and possibly Mike Minor or even Bartolo Colon.  Position
players are trade candidates too, with the focus being mainly on
Adrian Beltre and Shin-Soo Choo.
For the players, a trade means a new work place and having to
pull up stakes and make living arrangements at the new city.  If the
player is married and especially if they have children, there are
issues such as where the kids will be going to school in just a few
weeks.  It’s unsettling to say the least, and the uncertainty seemed
to take its toll on the field this week.
The Rangers bullpen was dead tired Tuesday after being clipped
for 16-3 and 15-3 losses last Saturday and Monday.  It was a foregone
conclusion that a fresh arm for the bullpen would be summoned from the
minor leagues, which turned out to be Brandon Mann.  The surprise was
the move the Rangers made to create space on the roster.  Center
fielder Delino DeShields was optioned to AAA Round Rock.
DeShields has been a revelation in center field.  Once considered
a poor defensive outfielder, he has developed into an elite defensive
player, certainly one of the top five center fielders in the game this
season per advanced defensive metrics.  He has recently struggled
mightily at the plate, and the Rangers indicated they wanted him to
work on his offense away from the pressures of the Major Leagues.
“Unplugging” is what manager Jeff Banister termed it.
DeShields did not take the demotion well.  He let his emotions show to
the media on his way out the door.  To his credit, he arrived in Round
Rock in time to play Wednesday night, even though he had 72 hours to
report after the roster move was made.
DeShields has friends on the team who were also upset about his
demotion.  The Athletic’s (subscription web site) Levi Weaver noted
one unidentified player was so upset that he wasn’t sure he wanted to
stay with the Rangers.
What followed were the two most disillusioning losses of the
year.  The Rangers took a lead to the ninth inning both Tuesday and
Wednesday, but lost both games.  The question is “which is the more
disillusioning loss”?  On Tuesday, they took a 10-2 lead to the
seventh inning, but managed to lose 13-10 in 10 innings.  On
Wednesday, they were one strike away from wrapping up a win, but
Ranger killer Khris Davis hit a two run home run to put the A’s into
the lead at 6-5.  The Rangers hitters looked puny in the ninth inning,
as all three batters struck out against Oakland closer Blake Treinen
to end the game.
For sure, there are a number of people associated with the
Rangers that are ready to get the uncertainty of getting traded over
with so that they can get on with the season.
The sluggish trade market finally got moving when Baltimore
shortstop Manny Machado was sent to the Dodgers the day after the
All-Star game.  It’s been a foregone conclusion that Machado would be
traded.  The Orioles are woeful on the field solidly in last place in
the American League East more than 40 games out of first place.
Machado is one of the game’s elite players, and he will be a free
agent this fall.
Once Machado was moved, the market began to break loose.  A day
after his trade, two relievers changed teams, including Jesse Chavez
going from the Rangers to the Cubs.   Chavez was not one of the more
prominent Ranger names that looked to be traded, but the Cubs
apparently valued his veteran experience and. his versatility to pitch
multiple innings as well as the being good enough to pitch late
innings in winnable games.
Texas received Ricky Tyler Thomas, a starting pitcher with a 3-5
record and 2.88 ERA in 15 games (14 starts) for Low-A South Bend.  He
was the Cubs’ seventh round selection in the 2017 draft.  He was not
ranked among the Cubs’ top 30 prospects, but he has a chance to be a
decent Major League starter.  His fastball velocity is below average,
but he has a very good change up.  The Rangers assigned him to Low-A
Hickory.  Thomas went four innings in his first start for the
Crawdads, giving up no hits or runs and striking out three batters.
The Rangers’ roster took a new look when Willie Calhoun was
called up from AAA Round Rock.  Nomar Mazara was placed on the
disabled list with a thumb injury precipitating the Calhoun’s
promotion.  Calhoun was the best prospect the Rangers received last
summer when they traded Yu Darvish to the Dodgers.      Calhoun should
stay in Arlington for a while, and perhaps even the rest of the
season, as Mazara is expected to miss more than the 10 day minimum
stay on the disabled list.
As for what happens in the next few days, it’s anyone’s guess.
Hamels was thought to be an experienced starter that would be
tradeable for a top prospect.  However, his recent starts have been
terrible.  He’s given up at least four earned runs in each of his last
five starts, a span in which his ERA is 10.23.  MLB.com’s T. R.
Sullivan reports there is still interest in Hamels and the Cubs appear
to be the most likely destination.
Relievers Keone Kela and Jose Leclerc have been solid and are
controllable past this season.  They have emerged as the two that
would bring the best prospects in return, because of their contracts.
The Rangers likely will need to package one of those two with Hamels
to extract a top prospect.
There seems to be little interest in Shin-Soo Choo and Adrian
Beltre.  Choo is dealing with a sore quad that essentially limits him
to designated hitter duty.  The trade options for him then are
basically to American League teams.  There are essentially just six
contending A. L. teams with Houston, Cleveland, Boston and New York
having all but mathematically wrapped up playoff berths.  That leaves
Seattle and Oakland to fight over the second Wild Card.  Those teams
are essentially set at DH.
Teams are often looking for a veteran bat, but Beltre is not at
the top of the list for available third basemen, but then again an
injury could make him interesting fast.  The Cubs’ third baseman Kris
Bryant was placed on the disabled list Thursday morning, so Chicago
suddenly could be a candidate to trade for Beltre.
Beltre by the way is now up to either 19th or 20th on the
all-time hit list.  The difference revolves around disputed figures
for Cap Anson’s hit total.  Going into play Thursday night, he is 22
hits away from tying Tony Gwynn for 18th or 19th place on the list.
It looks to be a brisk few days in the trade market.  Already on
Thursday this week, the Yankees concluded a deal for Toronto starting
pitcher J. A. Happ.  That moves Hamels up a notch on the available
starting pitchers list, though at the same time likely takes the
Yankees out as a suitor.  Also, the Astros fortified their catching
situation by trading for Martin Maldonado, formerly a Gold Glove
winner with the Angels; and the Brewers acquired reliever Joakim Soria
from the White Sox.
When the dust has cleared and the calendar has flipped to August,
the Ranger roster is likely to look considerably different over the
final two months of the season.  There will be some missing faces, and
in their place will be minor league call-ups to get a first-hand look
at the big league level.
THE WRAP
·      Attendance at Tuesday’s game against Oakland was 18,249, the
third smallest crowd of the season in Arlington.  There have been nine
crowds of less than 20,000 among the first 53 home dates.  Oakland was
the opponent in six of them.  Total home attendance prior to
Thursday’s game against Oakland was 1,332,389, a pace to reach
2,036,300 for the season.
·      Elvis Andrus hit his first career grand slam home run on
Tuesday.  His career batting average with the bases loaded is now up
to .336.  It was the third slam of the season for Texas with Robinson
Chirinos and Shin-Soo Choo hitting the other two,
·      MLB.com has published its mid-season Top 100 prospects.  New to
the group is Rangers’ first round draft pick right-handed pitcher Cole
Winn at number 99.  Leody Taveras at 43 is the highest ranked Ranger
farm hand.  Willie Calhoun and outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez are the
other two in the re-ranked Top 100.

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