Should the Texas Rangers trade Lance Lynn before the trade deadline?
The MLB trade deadline is approaching rapidly. As the Texas Rangers ponder whether they will be buyers or sellers, all options need to be on the table.
The Texas Rangers have been one of the biggest surprises of the 2019 MLB season. Many assumed the Rangers would have already traded away Mike Minor for assets and be well under .500 mid-way through July. Instead, the Rangers are not just a team over .500, they have been in the thick of the playoff race in the American League for a very good portion of the year. It was becoming more and more likely that the Rangers would become buyers at the trade deadline, addressing their lack of pitching depth.
However, after a five-game winning streak near the end of June, the Rangers have gone 4-9 in their last 13 games, losing serious ground in the American League Wildcard race in the process. They were already fighting with Boston and Cleveland for the second wildcard spot, and now Oakland has stormed back and leap-frogged over Texas. During this 13-game slump, the Rangers’ lack pf pitching depth has shown greatly. Adrian Sampson and Ariel Jurado have come back down to earth and Jesse Chavez was much more effective out of the bullpen.
Now, the Rangers could believe in their lineup and become buyers and try to add more pitching around two very good pitchers in their rotation. They’ve got enough offensive firepower where they could conceivably fight for a playoff spot if they had more pitching. However, that is a huge risk. And even if the Rangers do make the playoffs, they wouldn’t compete with the Houstons or the New Yorks.
As mentioned before, the Rangers have two very good pitchers in their rotation: Mike Minor and Lance Lynn. Minor made the American League All Star team and Lance Lynn has found his form again in Texas red, white, and blue. These are two valuable pieces they could sell for very valuable assets to either re-stock their farm system or try to re-tool for 2020. For now, we’ll focus on Lance Lynn.
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Texas signed Lynn to a 3-year, $30 million contract this past offseason. He has been simply fantastic for Texas in 2019, and one of the best under-the-radar pitchers in all of baseball. He has an ERA of 2.98 since the beginning of June and has pitched at least six innings in every start since his April 28th outing.
Needless to say, the Rangers could get a very good haul for Lynn. He has two more years of control and could be a very good addition to any team making a World Series run. But there’s another side of the coin. If the Rangers trade away Lynn, what do they get in return? Let’s say they do get a team’s top-15 prospect, how far away is that prospect from the Majors? Will any pieces that they get in return be a vital contributor in 2020 or 2021?
If not, that kind of defeats the purpose of building around a core of Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, and Elvis Andrus. If they only can get players that won’t be on the same team as these guys, you’re talking about lengthening this rebuild. And with where the Rangers are, that seems counterproductive.
Another factor to consider, along with trading away Mike Minor, is how will this be received by the players? Will they get frustrated after Chris Woodward and company have gotten these players to buy into everything they are doing? These guys are trying to compete, no matter what the odds are. It’s one of the biggest reasons they are not already sellers at this point.
If the Rangers keep Lance Lynn for 2020 and 2021, they have a very reliable, veteran pitcher who can throw strikes and eat up innings; a perfect middle-to-back end of the rotation pitcher. They would obviously need to address the rest of the rotation in the offseason either by trade or free agency. But that would be one less reliable pitcher to fill out the rotation if the Rangers are serious about competing in 2020.
I’ve never been a fan of tanking in baseball unless you absolutely have to completely tear down and start over. The Rangers are not in that position. They are closer to competing than to being basement dwellers. Unless a team comes in with an offer that you can’t refuse, the Rangers should stand pat with Lance Lynn. He could be a great addition in 2020.