Texas Rangers: Trade deadline nearing, who stays and who goes?
By Travis Koch
Six days remain until the July 31st trade deadline. Which Texas Rangers stay and which Texas Rangers go as we await the date?
The July 31st non-waiver trade deadline is officially six days away. Rumors are being leaked by the minute and a few blockbuster trades have already taken place. However, in the midst of all the chaos, the Texas Rangers have stayed relatively quiet. Reliever Jesse Chavez was dealt last week, but that is about the only action Texas has taken to this point.
Rumored Rangers include Cole Hamels, Shin-Soo Choo, Jurickson Profar, Keone Kela, Jose Leclerc, Adrian Beltre, Jake Diekman and Mike Minor. Given the fact that I just named 1/3 of their 25-man roster, expect the Texas Rangers to make a few headlines over the next six days.
To have some fun with trade season, let’s play stay or go! Which trade candidates will remain with the Rangers come August 1st and which candidates will partake in press conferences for their new team come August 1st?
Cole Hamels GOES
Despite horrid numbers over the last month, Cole Hamels will be traded. There are too many teams interested in him for a trade not to get done. Unfortunately, the Rangers’ bargaining power has lost its steam as Hamels has lost his steam. Regardless, Texas would much rather turn him for a prospect or two instead of get nothing for him after paying his buyout this offseason.
Shin-Soo Choo GOES
Choo has been one of the top hitters in baseball over the last two months. Yet, the Rangers still have to yank teeth in order to get a team to agree to a deal for the 36-year-old All-Star. The elephant in the room is Shin-Soo Choo’s contract. He is owed $21 million in each of the next two seasons. Understandably so, teams are not overly excited at the idea of paying even half of the remaining contract for a player that will be 38 years old once the contract expires.
The caveat, however, is playoff contention. There are playoff hopeful teams that are in dire need of a high on-base hitter. Choo is that, plus a leader, a power hitter and a selfless teammate. Before the deadline, the Rangers will come to an agreement to trade Choo to a contender. Texas will eat the majority of his contract, but it will be worth it as there is no sense keeping him around for a rebuild.
Jurickson Profar STAYS
Mr. Versatile is too curious of a talent for the Texas Rangers to give him up. Profar has had a breakout season at the age of 25 and the Rangers have committed too much of their time to watch him go now. Unless GM Jon Daniels is absolutely blown away by a trade offer, Profar will remain a Ranger through the trade deadline. The true decision regarding Profar’s future will come this offseason…a time in which Adrian Beltre will be a free agent and Elvis Andrus can opt out of his contract.
Keone Kela GOES
Kela has had a phenomenal season. It wasn’t until last night that he blew his first save in 2018. Prior, he was 24 out of 24 in save opportunities. Given the power of late inning relievers within the trade market, Kela is the Rangers’ most valuable trade asset.
We’ve already seen closers Kelvin Herrera, Brad Hand, and Zach Britton be traded throughout MLB. While those acquisitions are somewhat shrinking the market, it goes to show just how coveted a dominant closer is in today’s postseason perspective. The Texas Rangers will eventually receive a very favorable trade proposal for their 25-year-old, controllable relief weapon. They will accept it and Keone Kela will be gone.
Jose Leclerc Stays???
News broke yesterday that the Arizona Diamondbacks are interested in Keone Kela and Jose Leclerc. Leclerc has pitched outstandingly through a number of relief roles in 2018. He has a 2.06 ERA over 36 appearances, a 0.971 WHIP (huge improvement from last year), and he has yet to allow a home run in 2018. Dominant at 22 years old and controllable through 2022, there is no wonder at least one team is heavily interested in the right-hander.
I plead the 5th on this one. A Leclerc/Kela combo should land the Texas Rangers at least one top-tier prospect. The return better be off the charts if the organization decides to move both of them.
Adrian Beltre STAYS
The market for Beltre is limited. Not to mention, both Beltre and the Rangers have stated their intentions to remain partners in 2019. At this point, no deal will be made available that will make it worth trading the future Hall of Famer. Beltre will stay in Texas.
Jake Diekman GOES
Diekman will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. Given the Rangers’ status, he’ll be too expensive to re-sign. For this reason, he will be actively shopped over the next six days. A hard throwing slinger from the left side should be a popular commodity. A deal should get done, whether it means trading Diekman by himself or as part of a package.
Mike Minor STAYS
Minor is an intriguing piece because he is 30 years old and under contract through 2020. Though, his 2018 performance has been just average enough to where a trade is unlikely.
From the Rangers perspective, Minor would be a great guy to have in the rotation next season. Texas will be scrambling to fill their 2019 rotation just as they scrambled to fill their 2018 rotation. They’ll need at least two guys chalked into next year’s staff as the offseason approaches. Those two will likely be Minor and Martin Perez.
Willie Calhoun STAYS
The timing of his call-up was curious. 11 days before the deadline? It seemed as if the Rangers wanted to showcase Calhoun’s talents to the rest of MLB, or maybe to a few select teams. He has done okay in his five games since the call-up. He hit a home run last night and he’s played a fine left field. But the Rangers’ intention up to the deadline is to continue to reload on prospects, not to give them up.
Next: Are problems brewing in the Rangers clubhouse?
With that said, there are a bevy of high-profile outfield prospects already in the Rangers’ system, excluding Calhoun. Therefore, Calhoun is expendable. Does that mean the Texas Rangers will trade him this week? They could, but they probably won’t. There will be other opportunities for Texas to trade him down the line if they find a move fitting.