Three weeks ago the Texas Rangers were in a good spot. The had climbed to within 2 games of first place in the AL West, and had Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, and Matt Harrison coming off of the disabled list in a short time. Things looked good in Arlington and fans were getting excited and coming out to the ballpark the way that they did from 2010-2012. Things changed when the team came home and went 1-7 over a long homestand to close out the first half. Things went wrong quickly, and it seemed there was nothing that rookie manager Jeff Banister could do to stop the spiral. The front office now has to be looking at trade options to see what they can do to ignite a spark in a stagnant team.
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Jun 21, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcherAndrew Cashner
(34) throws in the second inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Starting Pitching: This is perhaps the biggest hole for the Rangers right now. Outside of Yovani Gallardo, the rotation has been atrocious lately. A rotation of Gallardo, Colby Lewis, Wandy Rodriguez, Matt Harrison, and Martin Perez is not one that will get you very far. Perez and Harrison could return to form, but I am skeptical. Harrison cannot throw faster than 88 MPH, so if he misses a spot by just a little bit, the ball will be quickly sent the other direction. Perez looks the more likely candidate to regain his dominance as he starts the second half opener against the Houston Astros on Friday. Derek Holland is looking to return somewhere around August 1st, but his health is seemingly always a question now. What options are out there? The Phillies’ Cole Hamels still appears to be available, as well as recent free agent James Shields from the Padres. Both are good options long term, but their teams will demand a lot for their services. Johnny Cueto of the Cincinnati Reds is available, but will come at a hefty fee. TCU alumnus Andrew Cashner could probably also be moved from San Diego as he has a year and a half remaining on his contract and A.J. Preller’s team have fallen out of contention in the NL West. Regardless, the Rangers need to make a move for a starting pitcher if they are going to contend.
Jul 13, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; National League pitcherJonathan Papelbon
(58) of the Philadelphia Phillies walks on the field with his children during the 2015 Home Run Derby the day before the MLB All Star Game at Great American Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Relief Pitching: Two weeks ago we had an article discussing who the Rangers could pursue for help in the bullpen. Brad Zigler may not still be available from the Diamondbacks, but all of the other pitchers are on teams who have not been getting them many save opportunities. Papelbon went as far as saying that the Phillies need to “you know what or get off the pot” at media day at the All Star Game, where he was the team’s only selection. The back of the bullpen is still solid for the Rangers, as Tanner Scheppers, Shawn Tolleson, and Keone Kela have been good throughout the season. They have begun to struggle lately though as Kela has been overworked and Tolleson had his first blown save of the season against the Padres. With the All Star Break providing some extra rest, the Rangers may not necessarily need to make a move to improve the bullpen, but an experienced closer would be helpful going down the stretch.
Jul 10, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Cincinnati Reds right fielderJay Bruce
(32) rounds the bases after his home run in the second inning as Miami Marlins second basemanDee Gordon
(9) reacts at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Outfield: The Rangers’ outfield is bad. Ryan Rua has been inconsistent and relegated to the bench. Joining him is Leonys Martin, who shows flashes of what he can still be, but then struggles for long periods of time. Shin-Soo Choo has been terrible, often bringing about questions of his effort. Delino DeShields Jr. has cooled off, but is the team’s current best option in centerfield. Josh Hamilton is currently the best outfielder on the roster, but he is injured so often that it is impossible to count on him to be around for a long at this point. The only two players that the Rangers can’t move are Choo and DeShields. If they try to option DeShields, he will end up back in Houston. Choo’ contract still has 5 years and $102 million left on it. They could attempt to trade Martin, but wouldn’t get much more for him than a couple of prospects. Martin could probably use a fresh start elsewhere, but at this point in the season, he will not net the type of players the Rangers need, unless they plan to flip the prospects in the near future. Rua could be optioned to the minors still to make room for any acquisitions. The Rangers will not move Hamilton, who is a bargain after the Angles ate nearly all of his salary. Who’s available? Justin Upton could be had from San Diego, but is a free agent this offseason, and will command a large contract. He will not be signable long term. Former Rangers Chris Davis and David Murphy both have expiring contracts, but the Orioles have said that they will not trade Davis if in contention. Yoenis Cespedes is another player that could be rented if the Tigers decide to sell. They currently stand 9 games behind the Kansas City Royals, so they might be convinced to sell in the next week if they can’t make a little run. Jay Bruce could be acquired from the Reds who are looking to retool at the deadline.
The Rangers are in a prime position at just 6 games back at the All Star Break. If Jon Daniels and company decide that they can make a run this season, there will be some serious shake ups on the roster in the coming weeks. The farm system is strong as usual, so the team will be able to make one or two big trades if they decide to. If I were put in control of the team, I would make a move for an outfielder and a starting pitcher. Let’s hear from you: given the front office, what do you do? Answer our poll and comment who you think the team should go after!