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How Did the Texas Rangers Fare at the Trade Deadline?

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Yesterday’s trade deadline moves heavily involved two of the Texas Rangers’ in division rivals. With the Mariners taking part in the largest trade of deadline day, the David Price deal, and the Athletics making the second biggest splash by landing Jon Lester. What should Texas Rangers fans think of these deals?. Other AL West teams made moves leading up to the trade deadline with the Angels acquiring a closer and the Astros trading away young starting pitching. This article will analyze all trades from multiple perspectives and boil down the results for Texas Rangers fans.

The most interesting deal leading up to the 3pm central deadline yesterday was easily the David Price to Detroit trade. Price was the best of all the players who could have possibly been moved and Detroit is understandably excited. The Tigers seem to have paid fairly little for a recent CY Young winner by giving up Austin Jackson to the Mariners and Drew Smyly and a shortstop prospect in Willy Adames to Tampa Bay. This is not a particularly low cost as Jackson and Smyly are established big leaguers and Adames is solid if uninspiring prospect. However, if you are the Tigers you have to view this as a win. Smyly is a nice pitcher but unlikely to be better than a middle of the rotation guy and Jackson is a good but not great everyday centerfielder.

If I dislike this trade for anyone it is the Tampa Bay Rays. As I said above, Smyly is likely to be a third pitcher in a rotation; second at best. Nick Franklin, acquired from Seattle, has upside but is probably a Ben Zobrist type at his absolute celling. It is more likely that he will be a fringy starter in my estimation. He can hit a little and field a little and thus has value. For a monumental talent like Price with another year left of control for Tampa this trade seems a bit undervalued. They must like the players better than most baseball people like them.

The Mariners made a lateral move here talent wise as Jackson does not seem to be all that special of a player but they made a trade from strength, middle infield, and acquired help for a weakness, outfield, which is always wise. They do not have any outfielders better than Jackson so this will be likely to help them; it is just how much that is the question.

The Mariners also landed Kendrys Morales and Chris Denorfia who should help patch up a mediocre offense but neither really scares an opposing pitcher. They are marginal upgrades at best. The one nice thing is neither player comes from a hitter friendly ballpark so their production should not be expected to drop once in Seattle.

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The Athletics were very busy leading up to the deadline and bolstered their rotation in a big way. They hauled in Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel and Jonny Gomes in a pair of trades. Lester and Samardzija are two of the better pitchers moved at the deadline but the cost was high. The A’s parted with their top prospect in Addison Russell and one of their top players in Yoenis Cespedes. To say the Athletics must be all in on this season would be an absurd understatement. The A’s are definitely better now than they were before the trades started flying but there are legitimate concerns about these deals. Oakland did not have a strong farm system before these trades and now they seem to have next to nothing in their system, no offense to Billy Burns, Max Muncy and Miles Head. If nothing else their depth is decimated.

The Lester trade was an intriguing one. The A’s believe that their AL leading offense should be able to maintain production without Cespedes, or at least that Gomes can replace a sizeable portion of Cespedes production.

As a side bar, I caught an ESPN analyst discussing how Billy Beane must prefer Gomes to Cespedes based on their OBP. This is true, higher OBP is better—all else constant—but we should remember what Beane’s real contribution to baseball has been; capitalizing on market inefficiency. Most major league teams now properly value OBP and thus Beane has moved on to other skills that are undervalued. I digress.

One interesting thing to watch over the rest of the season is how Oakland’s offense fares without their cleanup hitter. They may well be fine, Josh Donaldson, not Cespedes, is the focal point of that offense and Gomes should lead a productive platoon in left.

The Angels and Astros were fairly quiet at the deadline. The Astros dealt Jarred Cosart in a six player deal with Miami and the return for Coasrt seemed low. Cosart is not a top of the rotation pitcher but Jake Marisnick is not a middle of the order bat. If I had to pick one player for Texas to land from that trade it would be Cosart. I probably value Cosart too highly, so be aware of my bias, but I would have vastly preferred to be Miami in that deal.

The Angels only big move was to get Huston Street from the Padres. It is a positive move for a team whose only glaring weakness has been their bullpen. They potentially control Street for 2015 as well, meaning their future bullpen improved. The price was high, not my analysis, as I do not know Angels’ prospect very well. (Credit to Jon Heyman) Apparently, the Angels gave up three solid to above average prospects which hurts an already awful farm system.

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So how should Rangers fans feel? In short; ecstatic. The Rangers may have had the best trade deadline of all the teams in the AL West. The Rangers moved replaceable pieces for prospects; good prospects. It is disappointing that they did not deal Alex Rios but who knows what they got offered. A better trade deadline would have had Alex Rios being traded for a couple good prospects that are near major league ready, perhaps a starter and an outfielder. By keeping Rios and Neal Cotts, the front office is making it clear that they expect to be contenders next year, which should make fans happy.

None the less, the Rangers did well but not spectacular. The big take away from this trade deadline is that Texas marginally improved for the future and avoided any rash decisions like trading Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, or, god-forbid, Yu Darvish. It would have exciting to deal Beltre or Andrus for various reasons that have been discussed here before and do not need retreading; the return for Beltre would have been staggering.

The end result is that Oakland likely went backwards for next year by decimating their farm system for a player they will only have for one year beyond this year (Samardzija) and for another they cannot hope to keep after this year (Lester). They are all in on a year that the Rangers could care less about and that improves Texas’s chance to win next year. The Mariners and Angels basically did the same on a smaller scale, while the Astros went backwards for next year which does not matter because they would not have competed anyways.

The trade deadline was an all-around win for Texas although not a resounding one. Texas’s playoff chances were marginally improved and a good offseason should make for a fun 2015.

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