Decision time as Trade dealine nears

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, July 26th, 2019

Image result for Texas Rangers trade deadline
BY DIC HUMPHREY
DHUMPHREY24@GMAIL.COM
Member United States Basketball Writers Association

The trade deadline is just days away, and the Rangers’ course of
action has become crystal clear. The first nine games after the
All-Star break were considered critical to their chances of making the
playoffs, and they left little doubt….this is not a playoff caliber
team. Texas lost seven of those nine games, all but mathematically
eliminating them for the division title, and putting them behind too
many teams to nab one of the Wild Card berths. Their losing streak
reached eight games this week, before a 7-2 win over Seattle on
Tuesday night stopped the bleeding. However, they have gone 1-1 since
that win to have lost nine of their last 11 games going into the
weekend.

The Rangers’ chances of getting back into the playoff picture
took a hit this week when Joey Gallo left Tuesday’s game with a sore
wrist. He was subsequently diagnosed with a broken hamate bone, and
underwent surgery Thursday to repair it. He is projected to be out
for at least four weeks and more likely five or six.

The July 31 trade deadline this year is a true deadline. Trades
involving the waiver process are not allowed after July 31.It was
thought that the July trade market would get going earlier and be more
active than usual because of the firm July 31 deadline. So far that
hasn’t happened. It’s been sluggish for sure going into the weekend,
and there is doubt that it will be more active than usual.

Number one; there are a lot of teams with a chance to make the
playoffs. That is especially so in the National League where Miami is
the only team more than nine games out of a Wild Card spot. There are
six such teams in the American League.

Secondly, the trend in recent years for teams to be stingy about
letting go of their top prospects continues. It may be worth trading
top prospects for a chance to win a division, but not so much for a
Wild Card berth that could easily result into one playoff game on the
road.

Lastly, the few seller teams are relying on the law of supply and
demand to bring hefty returns, so the asking prices are steep. It
will be interesting to see if the prices come down, or if the buyers
belly up to the bar for the big trades in the next few days.
As for the Rangers, Hunter Pence and Chris Martin are almost
certain to be traded. Both are free agents after the season. Many
contending teams are looking for a solid bat to boost their offense,
and literally every team is looking for veteran bullpen help.
Asdrubal Cabrera has struggled at the plate of late, but he could
still be of interest to some teams. Shin-Soo Choo may go too if an
arrangement for his remaining salary can be agreed upon. Shawn Kelley
would have been attractive, but his recent arm injury that forced him
to the injured list has lessened his desirability.

The conundrums are Mike Minor, Lance Lynn and Danny Santana. They
are likely the three most attractive players the Rangers may be
considering for trade, and thus most likely to bring in quality
prospects. There are compelling reasons to keep all three of them
though.

The Minor and Lynn conundrums start with their contracts. Minor
is signed through next year, and Lynn is signed through 2021. The
controllability makes them more attractive and theoretically more
pricy. They have been outstanding for the season, though Minor has
struggled this month. In four July starts, he’s got a 6.04 ERA in
22-1/3rd innings and has allowed seven home runs.

Additionally, some pitchers that were thought to be available
probably aren’t. The Giants and Indians have played themselves
solidly into the playoff picture, so it now looks doubtful that
Madison Bumgarner and Trevor Bauer will be traded this summer.
However, with the Rangers moving into a new stadium next season,
Minor and Lynn could head up a good rotation. If they add a top
starting pitcher in free agency, or possibly a trade this winter, they
could likely fill out a rotation with Adrian Sampson, Ariel Jurado,
Joe Palumbo and Pedro Payano. With the good offense they already
have, and Jon Daniels uncanny ability to put together a good bullpen,
this could be a solid playoff contending team next year.

In other words, while some experts have anointed Minor as the
best starting pitcher available at the trade deadline, it’s going to
take an overwhelming offer to pry him loose from Texas.
Santana is compelling for different reasons. He can be a free
agent after this season, but he has worked himself into a being a
solid contributor to the team. He has been a consistent hitter, and
has the ability to play multiple positions. In this day and age, when
13 man pitching staffs are the norm, versatility in the field has more
value than it did 15-20 years ago. The Rangers may want to keep him
around.

This feel good season may not be as meaningful as fans would like
to think. It was fun watching the Rangers play well enough to have a
record 10 games over .500 at one point, and be competitive for the
playoffs for more than half the season. The disappointing part though
is they may have made little progress for putting a playoff team on
the field.

When the season began, Texas was looking for at least five young
players to step up and establish themselves as the core of the team
going forward. It simply hasn’t happened. The success of this year’s
team came mostly from veterans. Pence turned in an All-Star
performance. Early in the season, Cabrera and Logan Forsythe were big
contributors. Santana has been found gold, though he might be part of
the core going forward. Nomar Mazara is really no better than he was
two years ago. He’s a streaky hitter that at the end of the season
will have offensive numbers that will make him about average
offensively for an outfielder. He’s probably not that good
defensively. Ronald Guzman is a marvelous defensive first baseman,
but he has shown no progress offensively, and is back in AAA. Rougned
Odor has regressed, though he had a very good series in Seattle this
week to finally boost his batting average over .200 for the first time
since the opening series of the season. Delino DeShields has shown
some improvement offensively, but he really looks to be just a very
good fourth outfielder. Willie Calhoun couldn’t hold a roster spot
when he got to Arlington this season, though he did re-join the
Rangers this week because of Gallo’s injury.

Gallo is the only young player that has taken a step forward. He
made the All-Star team, but after returning from a quad injury, he has
struggled at the plate, which hopefully is due to the injury that
forced this week’s surgery. As a defensive outfielder, he has a
dynamite throwing arm and has shown that he can play all three
outfield positions solidly.

On the pitching side, Jose Leclerc has disappointed. He lost the
closer’s job early and has been inconsistent. He is brilliant at
times, but he often looks shaky even when the results are good.
Sampson and Jurado have been given loads of opportunity in the
starting rotation. They too have been good at times, but on the whole
they project to be at best fourth or fifth starters in a decent
rotation. Palumbo is probably the most advanced minor league starting
pitcher in the system, though Payano was very good this week as the
main pitcher taking the mound after an opener pitched the first
inning.

It will be interesting to see what unfolds next week. Whatever
does happen could go a long way to shaping the Rangers in 2020 and
beyond.

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