GM Mode: Texas Rangers Boost the Rotation with a Divisional Trade?

The Texas Rangers desperately need some rotation help and could look to the Seattle Mariners for a starting pitching boost.

Move aside Jon Daniels, it’s time for Nolan Writin’ to take over as GM of the Texas Rangers. Welcome to a new series here on the site, “GM Mode”. The staff at Nolan Writin’ is going to take a shot at making deals for the Rangers over the next few weeks as we move into trade season. These deals can be as “buyers” to help the club win this season, or as “sellers” to help build for the future.

Texas Acquires the Rotation Help Needed

Rangers Get
RHP Mike Leake, $11m Considerations
Mariners Get
OF Scott Heineman

Because of their potent offense, the Texas Rangers currently are far exceeding expectations and sit at 36-30 and a couple of games up in the AL Wild Card. Now because the offense has been the main catalyst of success doesn’t mean the rotation doesn’t have its bright spots. For instance, Mike Minor has been a true ace and Lance Lynn has been extremely consistent. Even Adrian Sampson and Ariel Jurado have taken a massive step forward but the rotation could still use more help. With some advice from our friends over at SoDo Mojo, we tried to formulate a deal that is a win for both sides.

Rangers Get RHP Mike Leake and Cash Considerations

As far as starting pitching options on the market, there’s not a whole lot, especially that won’t clear out the Rangers prospect ranks. However, a veteran starter on a bad team who isn’t a top of the rotation guy could be a route Texas could take. Right-hander Mike Leake was acquired by the Seattle Mariners back in August 2017 from the Cardinals as Seattle looked to make a playoff push.  Now a 31-year old vet, Leake has become excess for a Mariners team that has descended back to Earth from their hot start and are in the cellar of the AL West. The Mariners are in rebuild mode and will be looking to offload any hefty, veteran contracts for any young talent they can get.

In 2019, Leake has made 14 starts for the Mariners and has a decent 4.26 ERA. He’s got a WHIP of 1.24 and decent 3.88 K/BB rate. Opponents are hitting .267 against him this year which is a little unsettling and his 2 HR9 rate isn’t concerning for team in a hitter-friendly ballpark like Texas. However, he’s been trending in the right direction with a 3.72 ERA in his last 7 starts and a 1.01 WHIP which shows the upside he still has.

With Texas also reportedly looking for controllable starters, Leake has the benefit of being under contract through at least 2020. As a part of the trade between St. Louis and Seattle, the Cardinals are already covering part of his salary and Texas should be able to get Seattle to cover an additional amount. He’s owed $23 million between 2019 and 2020 including his $5 million buyout for 2021. The Rangers should be able to get nearly half of that covered by Seattle, say $11 million? So split across the remaining contract, he’d cost Texas $3.65 million in 2019, $5.75 million in 2020 and a little over $2.5 million for his buyout. That’s not a bad price to pay for a back-end of the rotation starter that can help as a stop-gap between now and when the Rangers pitching prospects start to hit the system.

Mariners Get OF Scott Heineman

This is where I may lose some readers because Heineman is a highly thought of guy among Rangers faithful. The outfield prospect has consistently sat at the top of Texas’ prospect rankings for the past few years and always been close to the big leagues. However, at 26-years old, the window seems closed in terms of cracking a Texas outfield. Heineman got caught between a logjammed Major League outfield rotation and a young group of outfield prospects that are scattered among the Top 15 prospects in the system. He’s a quality player that should be able to get a shot in Seattle and is a mild loss for the Rangers system in which he has, unfortunately, become excess.

Trade Summary

No, Mike Leake isn’t going to turn this team into a World Series favorite. However, he fits the mold of what Texas wants which is rotation support that lets the Rangers make of a bit of a run this season without mortgaging the future. It shouldn’t take much more than a Scott Heineman level prospect to land this deal and it may be an option the Rangers won’t want to pass up.