As we approach August 1, we will preview what each team is projected to do in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline. For a complete listing of our previews, click here.
Texas Rangers: 53-32, 1st in the AL West
The team has exceeded a lot of expectations this far into the season, settling in nicely to the first place spot with a 7.5 game lead on the second-place Astros. Between a lineup that includes Rougned Odor, Adrian Beltre, and Ian Desmond and a rotation that has Cole Hamels and A.J. Griffin, the Rangers have no shortage of top-tier talent, as well as just players who are competing at a top-tier level.
The Rangers are absolutely contenders for the AL West, if they don’t run away with it toward the end of the season. If they can get a healthy Yu Darvish for the rest of the season and maybe some bullpen help, there’s no telling how far they can go.
Rotation injuries have been the team’s Achilles’ heel to this point, as Darvish, Derek Holland and Colby Lewis are currently on the disabled list. These woes will likely cause the Rangers to focus on pitching at the trade deadline, despite the weak rotation market that’s out there.
What moves have they made so far?
Texas was busy with some minor trades before July, making six deals so far this season. The Rangers acquired Kyle Kubitza, Justin De Fratus, Matt Ball and Bobby Wilson in minor deals while shipping out Patrick Kivlehan, Anthony Ranaudo, Chris Gimenez and Sam Freeman.
None of Texas’ additions have made significant contributions at the major-league level; almost all of their trades involved players who were designated for assignment.
Are they buyers or sellers?
The Rangers are almost assuredly buyers. They want to see how far they can go this time around, so they’re going to go all out—responsibly, this is a team that hasn’t made any big moves this season, yet—to get the guys they need.
General manager Jon Daniels recently said that the team’s deadline plan would be directly influenced by its pitching staff getting healthy, with Darvish, Holland, Lewis and relievers Keone Kela and Tanner Scheppers all scheduled to come back at some point. With the trade deadline less than a month away, Daniels is known to be active on the pitching market as well.
Texas is looking for starting pitchers, with a focus on young, controllable ones. They appear likely to make a move for a starter before August 1, just a year after making a big splash in acquiring Hamels from the Phillies. The Rangers are also looking for relievers, and could focus on lefties as the month progresses.
Who will they target?
So far, the Rangers have been linked multiple starters, such as Jake Odorizzi and Matt Moore of the Rays, as well Twins righty Ervin Santana. The team has also had previous interest in Rays lefty Drew Smyly, who is available this summer.
Texas is also dipping into the high-end relief market, and reportedly had talks with the Padres about Fernando Rodney before the righty was dealt to Miami last week. The Rangers reportedly have some interest in Yankees relievers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, though Miller is unlikely to be dealt.
After dealing multiple top prospect for Hamels last winter, Texas may have to deal Joey Gallo, Jurickson Profar or Lewis Brinson to get a controllable starter this summer.
The Rangers are certainly not going to keep quiet this deadline. As stated above, they’re contenders and they’re going to be buyers. They want more strength in the rotation, especially if the starters are still injured, and they are going to get that help.
The lineup, as it seems, is set, however. They’re 6th in the AL for runs scored at 412, and 5th in the AL for batting average at .266. They’re also 6th in the AL in home runs with 106 hit. While it’s not the best, it certainly is above average and it shows.
If they can just gather some pitching together to keep solidifying that rotation and that bullpen, then they’ll be set. Even with the rotation having the third best ERA in the American League at 3.74, getting it locked down would help contribute to the team’s success. There’s also the bullpen, which has a league worst 5.12 ERA. So though the Rangers appear to be targeting some rotation help, don’t be surprised if they pick up some bullpen guys, too. And getting starters who can go deep into the game will help out the bullpen in more ways than one.