As we approach July 31, 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, 41-44, 3rd in the AL West
What moves have they made so far?
The Rangers have been one of the majors’ most active teams in the trade and free agent markets. Their two most high-profile moves have involved veteran relievers, as they dealt their former closer, Sam Dyson, to the Giants for a player to be named later on June 6 after designating him for assignment four days earlier, then acquired former All-Star Jason Grilli from the Blue Jays in exchange for minor-league outfielder Eduard Pinto on July 2.
They’ve also made a host of minor moves since the regular season began. They traded reliever Andrew Faulkner to the Orioles for cash on April 6 after he failed to make their Opening Day roster. On April 16, they acquired starting pitching prospect Clayton Blackburn from the Giants in exchange for minor-league infielder Frandy De La Rosa. On April 30, they claimed veteran infielder Pete Kozma off waivers from the Yankees. They signed veteran outfielder and former Ranger Drew Stubbs, who currently remains with their Triple-A club in Round Rock, to a minor-league deal on May 16.
The Rangers claimed outfielder/first baseman Peter O’Brien, one of the most well-traveled players in baseball this season, off waivers from the Reds on May 27, though they DFA’d him on June 17 and lost him on waivers to the Dodgers. They acquired reliever Joely Rodriguez, who has made 38 big-league appearances since the beginning of 2016, from the Phillies on June 13 in exchange for a player to be named later and immediately optioned him to Triple-A. They released starting pitcher Dillon Gee, who has since joined the Minnesota Twins, on June 18 after he posted a 4.15 ERA and 1.77 WHIP in four appearances with the Rangers.
Are they buyers or sellers?
The Rangers are an interesting case, because while they’re seemingly out of contention for the AL West title as they sit 17 games behind the first-place Astros, they’re just 3.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card spot. They’re well-equipped to sell if they so choose, as Carlos Gomez, Yu Darvish, Andrew Cashner, Mike Napoli, Tyson Ross, Jonathan Lucroy, and Martin Perez can all become free agents after 2017. But if they think they’ve got a chance to get into the playoffs as a Wild Card, they should probably avoid a fire sale, because time is running out for core veterans such as Adrian Beltre, Shin-Soo Choo, and Cole Hamels.
Who could they trade?
The Rangers’ most attractive trade chip is Darvish, who has a 3.56 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 18 starts this season and could provide a major boost to a contender’s rotation. Reports have suggested, however, that Texas is unlikely to move Darvish, as they’re hoping to sign him to a long-term deal after this season and don’t want to limit their chances of being able to do so.
Lucroy has been a frequent subject of recent trade rumors, as he’s a pending free agent and doesn’t seem to have a future in Texas. The Rangers like Robinson Chirinos and would reportedly like to give a shot to Triple-A backstop Brett Nicholas. Thus, they may be willing to move Lucroy, who’s arguably having the worst season of his MLB career, even if they’re still in contention at deadline time. There aren't many contenders that are in obvious need of catching help, but if a team like the Diamondbacks or Red Sox that is currently using a platoon would prefer to find more of an everyday option, then perhaps they’d be interested in the two-time former All-Star.
And while the 30-year-old Cashner has never been tremendous, he’s actually having one of his best seasons yet as a starter, and last year he was the primary piece in a trade that brought back two premium prospects (Josh Naylor and Luis Castillo) and two big-league pitchers (Jarred Cosart and Carter Capps). If the Rangers can get that type of value for him, they should definitely pull the trigger and then try to re-sign him in the offseason.
Gomez is having a bounce-back season, having posted a .256/.332/.493 slash line with 12 home runs, so he might have some value to a team (perhaps his former club, the Brewers) that needs an upgrade in center field. He’s shown himself to be very unpredictable, though, so that could scare off some potential trade partners. Gomez has formed a strong relationship with the Rangers’ coaching staff and would likely be willing to stay in Texas beyond this season, so the Rangers will probably have to get a really strong offer to be willing to move him.
Napoli is having a less-than-stellar season (.192/.270/.437 slash line with 18 homers) and plays a position where pretty much every contender is well-set. He probably provides more value as a clubhouse presence to the Rangers than he would fetch on the trade market.
There’s also been some talk about the Rangers trading the 38-year-old Beltre, who is owed $18 million next season, if they fall out of contention. While his salary, age, and the fact that he’s been limited by a calf injury this year would limit his value, a trade would give him a chance at winning a World Series before he retires and also would probably bring back a solid prospect or two for the Rangers.
With the Rangers near full health, they’re likely going to remain within striking distance of a Wild Card spot through the trade deadline. It’s up to GM Jon Daniels to decide whether their chances of making the playoffs are strong enough to make it worth holding onto all of his pending free agents, but it doesn’t seem likely that they’ll engage in a full-fledged fire sale.
If anything, the Rangers might move Lucroy, who is the best catcher on the trade market this year. They might prefer to roll forward with a catching tandem of Chirinos and Nicholas anyway, so it’s not like they’re throwing in the towel with a Lucroy trade, and it would help them replenish their struggling farm system.