GM Mode: Texas Rangers go for broke with Atlanta Braves

ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 5: Mike Minor #23 of the Texas Rangers throws against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on June 5, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 5: Mike Minor #23 of the Texas Rangers throws against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on June 5, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) /
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The Texas Rangers are just a week away from the MLB trade deadline and have yet to make a move. What could their top two pieces net them from Atlanta?

We had slowed up a bit on our GM Mode series expecting the Texas Rangers to start making deadline moves by now. However, here we are, less than a week away from the MLB Trade Deadline and the Rangers have done nothing of note. In fact, nobody has really done anything of note. Everybody seems stuck in a holding pattern, not sure how to approach the new deadline format that did away with the August waiver period and gave teams just one deadline to try and make moves. The Rangers seem locked in as sellers now after a rough stretch of games following the MLB All-Star break but it’s almost as if they don’t want to be the first to make a move.

Mike Minor is far and away their top trade asset given he’s in the midst of an All-Star season and is under contract through the 2020 season on favorable terms. He’s no doubt coveted by a number of contenders and as other possible starters drop off the trade block, i.e. Madison Bumgarner, Minor’s value seemingly continues to rise despite a rough 4 start stretch. I think it’s still likely he gets traded, somewhere around 75% and he could help reshape the Rangers minor league system with the right deal.

Rangers Get OF Drew Waters, LHP Kyle Muller, LHP Kolby Allard

For the Rangers, this trade is an organization shaping move. Right now they only feature 2 prospects in MLB.com’s Top 100 list (Crouse #61, Winn #63) and 3 prospects in Fangraph’s Top 100 (Winn #72, Taveras #76, Solak #94). The upper parts of their minor league system is thin on top tier talent with most of their top prospects below the Double-A level right now. Acquiring Drew Waters would automatically give the Rangers a new top prospect overall as he falls in the Top 100 of both prospect ranks mentioned (MLB.com #42, Fangraphs #25). He’s a switch-hitting outfielder that can play in CF and the corner spots. While the Rangers have a number of young, highly-touted outfielders in both the majors and minors, Waters instantly becomes your best outfielder not named Joey Gallo and would be another cornerstone piece to try and build around. Waters is currently in Double-A for the Braves and is hitting .337 through 99 games. He’s got an .889 OPS and flashes plus defensive tools that would make him a good all-around player.

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LHP Kyle Muller is the other big piece getting this deal over the line. Muller, who ranks #10 in the Braves system according to MLB.com and #7 by Fangraphs, would become the best advanced pitching prospect in Texas’ system. He’s not a Top 100 prospect and many, including myself think Minor alone should net a couple of Top 100 guys, but if the Rangers opt for Muller, they’re getting a guy who has really had a successful season in Double-A. Muller is 6-6 in his 20 starts for Double-A Mississippi with a 3.30 ERA and a 116 strikeouts in 106.1 innings. Adding him would give you a young pitcher that could get into the big league rotation by 2020 while still allowing you to ask for more from Atlanta.

Along with Kyle Muller, the Rangers would get another LHP from the Braves’ minor league system in Kolby Allard. Allard was a Top 100 prospect at the end of 2018 according to MLB.com but has seen his stock drop a bit in 2019 as others in the system continue to rise. As of now MLB.com ranks him #8 in the Braves system and Fangraphs ranks him at #12, a decent disparity. Allard has been solid in Triple-A this season making 19 starts and posting a 3.80 ERA. His strikeout rate of just 7.85 per 9 innings is what raises some concern, but he could still factor as a late-rotation starter. Like Muller, Allard would be ready for the big leagues in 2020.

Braves Get LHP Mike Minor, RHP Chris Martin

The Braves could definitely use another starting pitcher as they gear up for a postseason run headlined by a potent young offense. They’re rotation has its core with Julio Teheran, Dallas Keuchel and Mike Soroka, but they likely could use a veteran putting up the numbers that Minor is this season. Because they’re so young, a rental doesn’t make much sense which is why they’ve been linked heavily with Mike Minor and Marcus Stroman, the other controllable starter likely to be dealt this month. Minor would fit right in with the club that originally drafted him back in 2009, and would fit right in as a replacement for Dallas Keuchel who is on a 1-year deal and out of contract this winter. Minor would slot in their postseason rotation and give them a group that I think would have a shot at the World Series this year and next.

The Braves also could use Chris Martin to shore up their bullpen that while featuring a good group, could use the consistency of Martin. Martin, who’s contract stipulates that he must be released at the end of the year despite having 2 more years of arbitration, is in the midst of a good season for the Rangers and a great run as of late. Since June 1st, Martin features a 1.72 ERA and a FIP of just 2.07 in 15.2 innings of work. He’s striking out 12.64 batters per 9 innings in that time period and 0.00 walks per 9 innings. That’s right. 0.00 walks per 9 innings. In fact, Chris Martin hasn’t walked a batter since April 30th against the Pirates. He’s performing like one of the best relievers in the game right now and could go a long way in helping a team strengthen their late-inning mix headed into the postseason.

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