With less than one week until the non-waiver trade deadline, teams are now scrambling to find the player they need that can make them a World Series threat or get them a lot of prospects as they vie to be a World Series threat later on. The Rangers are in a bit of a strange position–they’ve had some ups this season that inspire confidence that contending for a championship might not be too far away, but they’ve had the prolonged downs that will prevent them from being a contender this season. After four straight 90+ win seasons, the Rangers were an injury-riddled disaster in 2014 and look like a team that will finish just about at .500 this year. There are a few guys on this team that could be traded and immediately help a contender while bolstering the Rangers prospect pool.
Mar 24, 2015; Surprise, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers designated hitter Adrian Beltre bats against the Los Angeles Angels in a spring training game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The first guy that could and should be traded is Adrian Beltre. Regardless of any slump he may be in that might drop his value, I think he’ll still fetch a fair price and his value doesn’t figure to get any higher as he gets older. So as much as I personally love watching the guy, I think he deserves another chance to play for a championship before he retires. Joey Gallo is the future at third and needs to be the everyday guy in 2016.
With the Pirates trading for Aramis Ramirez, the pool of teams interested in third basemen dwindled. But there still could be interested teams. One could be the New York Yankees. Alex Rodriguez is almost exclusively a designated hitter now, and Chase Headley is not exactly a world beater at third base. His .934 fielding percentage is well below his career average and his 16 errors so far this season is already a career high. The AL is a question of who can compete with the Royals. With Beltre in the fold, there’s no doubt the Yankees could give them all they could handle in a playoff series.
Other teams that could also have an interest are the Washington Nationals and New York Mets. Yunel Escobar is currently the Nats third baseman, forced into duty because of another injury to Ryan Zimmerman. If the Nats were to add Beltre to an already fairly good lineup, it would provide Bryce Harper protection in the lineup and gold glove caliber defense that could help them compete with the Cardinals and Dodgers in the NL, perhaps making them the favorites. David Wright always seems to be hurt for the Mets, so getting Beltre would solidify third, meaning Wright could move to first and displace Lucas Duda and his .237 average. The Giants are another team that has been thrown out, but I don’t know if the Giants would want to replace the young Matt Duffy with a veteran who has limited time left.
Jun 19, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Texas Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland (18) hits a two run single against the Chicago White Sox in the ninth inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Mitch Moreland has played really well this season. He is hitting .287 with 16 long bombs and 49 RBIs. But there has not been a real push to move him. Some have had him linked with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Angels (ugh, don’t trade to a division rival); and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently ran an article about Moreland’s fit with the Cardinals. Mark Reynolds is not exactly the strength of the team at first base. He can provide some occasional power but I could understand why the Red Birds would seek an upgrade. Ken Rosenthal has said that the Rangers aren’t in a hurry to deal him, but they may get blown away with an offer because the market for hitters is much smaller than the one for pitchers. If that happens I would take the deal, mainly because I don’t trust Moreland because of his inconsistent track record.
Yovani Gallardo is a Fort Worth native, and has pitched well this season. He has an ERA of 2.91 and had a streak of 33.1 scoreless innings earlier this season, the downside has been his 7-9 record, which has been indicative of the lack of run support. He has been given, you guessed it, 2.91 runs per game in his starts this season. He has said he wants to stay and win in Texas, which might incline the Rangers to keep him.However, he is a free agent after this year, so he could be traded, play out the year wherever he goes and then come back to Texas next season. The Dodgers have inquired about his services, but I would be somewhat reluctant to trade him unless you knew he was coming back. But if another team knows they’re getting a rental then the Rangers won’t get much in a trade. It was debatable how much the Rangers would get anyway in a trade market with names like Cole Hamels, David Price, Johnny Cueto and others available.
Mar 22, 2015; Peoria, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo (49) throws during the third inning against the Seattle Mariners at Peoria Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
The thing is, Texas isn’t a long ways away from being a playoff team. With Yu Darvish coming back in 2016, the Rangers actually could have a formidable rotation with Darvish, Martin Perez, Derek Holland, Gallardo and Nick Martinez next season. With a lineup that includes Prince Fielder, Josh Hamilton and young guys like Roughned Odor, Delino DeShields and Joey Gallo, amongst others, this team could make a run for the postseason next year.
While I think with a few tweaks the Rangers could be a postseason contender in 2016, I think they are a longer way away from being a championship team. They have some pieces now to build around, but trading guys like Beltre and Moreland could help speed that process along, and I would do everything I could to deal them both by the end of this month.