Yesterday Jon Paul Morosi argued that the Texas Rangers should trade Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus in order to acquire some young pitching. Most Rangers fans likely responded the same way, with a very vocal, “No”. Beltre and Andrus are two of the most popular Texas Rangers. This is for good reason as the two are both talented and contagiously happy.
They are a pleasure to watch and are certainly top players at their positions. So why trade Beltre or Andrus?
The answer is simple, the Rangers have the farm system depth to potentially replace them and both may be more valuable as trade pieces than as Texas Rangers going forward. The way the season is going Jon Daniels may have to consider trading some pieces away at the deadline in order to restock for 2015 and beyond. The Rangers are not out of it yet and if the team can tread water until players like Derek Holland, Geovany Soto and Jurickson Profar(or not) return then the team may avoid a fire sale all together. However, if the team struggles and falls further out of the race before the trade deadline then Jon Daniels will look to trade some players.
Some players will be obvious trade candidates. Players like Alex Rios, Neal Cotts, Colby Lewis and Joakim Soria are in their walk year with Texas. Veterans like these will be the first to go. After these obvious trade options Daniels will have to decide if he wants to trade a player like Beltre or Andrus.
Morosi argues that the Rangers need to deal Beltre and Andrus in order to acquire young pitching. If the Rangers are willing to take on some of the money left on the contracts of these two then it may well be that Texas could get good young players in exchange. Any contending team that could add Adrian Beltre to the middle of their lineup or improve their defense up the middle with Andrus would improve dramatically. It is tough to add star caliber players at the deadline so Texas would theoretically get a good trade haul for either player.
Trading these players would set Texas back a few years in terms of contending. Replacing Andrus and Beltre with Profar and Joey Gallo might be great in the long run but likely be bad for contention in 2015. The question is if this team needs to be rebuilt. Trading Beltre and Andrus would signal that the Rangers officially need a rebuild.
Texas has a great system already in place with many good pieces likely to join Texas in a year or two. One thing Morosi argues is that the Rangers need starting pitching. While it appears that way this year, because of an impossible number of injuries, both the major league depth and the farm system depth will show through moving forward. Martin Perez and Derek Holland will both come back. Nick Martinez and Nick Tepesch are making big strides in the rotation this year. The farm system has several arms on track to make the big leagues over the next two years. Players like Luke Jackson, Alex Gonzalez, and Alec Asher look
good this year and could possibly be ready to make big league appearances in 2015 or 2016. While superficially the pitching staff looks bad now, the reality is that this could be a top notch pitching staff in 2015 and 2016. This means that while trading Andrus and/or Beltre would cause the team to not contend in the short run, it may not be that long before the Rangers rise back to the top of the AL.
The reality is that Beltre is 35 and only signed for one year after 2015. Trading Beltre could be a wise, if painful, decision. Several teams would potentially have interest in acquiring a third baseman. Contending teams like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Kansas City Royals, and St. Louis Cardinals might have a need that Beltre could fill. Trading Beltre with a year and a half left on his contract should return one of a team’s top prospects. The Yankees probably do not have the prospects to land Beltre if other teams really want him. It seems the Rangers will not want to trade Beltre within division but Daniels has shown that he will trade with rivals. Of the remaining potential suitors mentioned here, the Cardinals and Royals make the most sense if they remain in contention at the trade deadline. The Jays, Red Sox and Dodgers would certainly find that Beltre is a huge upgrade over their current players but they all have serviceable players at this point. The Royals and Cardinals would make excellent trade partners for the Rangers because of their farm depth and pitching prospects.
Trading Andrus would be more difficult because Andrus’s contract is too large to easily trade. If the Rangers traded Andrus they would need to take on a large part of his contract in order to get much back for Andrus. The Rangers can afford this based on their incoming TV revenues. The teams interested in short stops is shorter than those potentially needing third basemen. Now that Boston has signed Stephen Drew there are few teams that appear to need a short stop. The New York Mets, Seattle Mariners, Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals are possible trade destinations but hardly seem realistic landing spots.
The Mets are not contenders this year but they could use Andrus since he is under long term contract. The Reds and Cardinals are potential contenders who do not have great shortstops and could use an upgrade at short. The problem is Andrus may not represent a significant enough upgrade for them to part with a decent prospect.
The most obvious team is the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers have the farm system to trade for Andrus which make for an interest middle infield as Andrus would be reunited with Ian Kinsler.
In the end, Texas could land a couple young pitchers and some additional pieces in exchange for Andrus and Beltre. The type of players these two could be traded for would give the Rangers another chance at the Rangers golden era that has been slipping over the last several years. Texas is caught between adding players to try to fill holes and trading off players to rebuild. If Texas decides to rebuild it might be worth it to trade Beltre and/or Andrus.