Texas Rangers: Crafting a mock trade for Nolan Arenado

DENVER, COLORADO - SEPTEMBER 12: Nolan Arenado #28 of the Colorado Rockies fields a ball hit by Jose Martinez of the St Louis Cardinals inning in the sixth inning at Coors Field on September 12, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - SEPTEMBER 12: Nolan Arenado #28 of the Colorado Rockies fields a ball hit by Jose Martinez of the St Louis Cardinals inning in the sixth inning at Coors Field on September 12, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

If the Texas Rangers want to bring perennial All-Star Nolan Arenado to Arlington, what would it take? We construct a mock trade with the Colorado Rockies.

We discussed yesterday what effect a Nick Castellanos signing could have on the Texas Rangers roster. With his signing, the Rangers would have the option of dealing some of their young, controllable talent for a high caliber player, such as Arenado. In any trade with the Rockies for Arenado, or the Cubs for Kris Bryant, the Texas Rangers would have to give up a haul. Jon Daniels knows this, and his counter argument could be and should be the years of control left on each of their contracts.

For Bryant and the Cubs, they are in the middle of a service-time grievance hearing that potentially cuts his years of control from two to one. Before the grievance, Bryant was scheduled to be a free agent after 2021, but if he wins his hearing, he will be available next offseason. As for Arenado, Colorado signed him to an extension last offseason. The seven year, $260 million dollar extension officially kicks in this season, but he has an opt-out built in for 2021.

Arenado’s contract also contains a full no-trade clause, giving any interested team one more hurdle to get over. If you are the Rangers, is it worth the risk of trading for one of these All-Stars for only one or two years of control? Maybe. But, if Daniels and the front office could work out a 72-hour negotiation window with either player, it might be worth the prospect haul and risk.

As of now, I don’t think the Rangers would be interested in one year of Bryant, so we’ll focus solely on Arenado. With that in mind, what might it take to bring in the defensive wizard that is Nolan Arenado? Here’s my take on a hypothetical Arenado deal, assuming that Texas and Arenado negotiate away his opt out.

As I’ve noted previously, several sources have said that the Rockies are looking for a dynamic, right-handed hitting center fielder in any trade discussions for Arenado. The names that have been thrown around: White Sox phenom Luis Robert, who was just signed to an extension, and the Nationals’ up-and-coming star Victor Robles, who isn’t going anywhere. It may be for the better or for the worse that the Rangers don’t have a super prospect like Robert or Robles. What the Rangers do have is expendable major league talent, operating under the assumption that we see a Castellanos signing. Depending on where Castellanos would play, you would assume Willie Calhoun or Ronald Guzman would be made available. The Rangers also have several young, controllable left-handed starters that could head the Rockies way in a blockbuster like this.

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To start, let’s assume that Castellanos comes to Texas and wants to stay in the outfield and Calhoun becomes expendable. Willie Calhoun is a young, controllable left-handed hitting outfielder/second baseman who proved he can hit major league pitching at an above-average level in 2019. He is scheduled to hit free agency in 2025. Calhoun represents a major league talent headed back to Colorado for a major league talent. Calhoun obviously doesn’t get it done alone. Colorado likely will knock Calhoun for his defense and being a National League team, he can’t be a DH for them long-term.

So who’s up next? Perhaps a lefty pitcher near the majors is of interest. Someone like Taylor Hearn. He has the making to be a middle to back-of-the-rotation starter in the major leagues, and at worst, a solid bullpen piece. He’s a left-handed pitcher with good velocity and a nasty slider. To me, he would seem appealing to a team like Colorado who isn’t wanting a full scale rebuild, but does need to add young talent.

So, we’ve got two big league pieces in the deal: Calhoun and Hearn. Let’s look to the minor league system to fill out the rest of the deal with prospects. The Rockies will like the high-floor, high-ceiling of Calhoun and Hearn is somebody that can contribute immediately. But prospects still run the trade game and Colorado will want a good one. Assuming that they would look for a pitcher, Cole Winn is somebody that could fit the bill. The former first rounder has an above-average fastball and curveball, clean mechanics and is still only 20-years old. He’s considered one of the Rangers top two pitching prospects and a potential frontline starter talent.

And the Rockies still want that dynamic outfielder. As I alluded to earlier,  the Rangers don’t have a superstar centerfield prospect, but the have a toolsy, athletic outfielder named Bubba Thompson. He currently ranks as the eighth best prospect in the Ranger’s’ system per MLB Pipeline, with good hand-eye coordination and above-average speed. He was a multi-sport athlete in high school and is known for being a high ceiling player solely based on his athleticism. He is still only 21-years old and could develop more into a power-hitter as he matures, with his speed keeping him in centerfield.  So here’s how the deal could shape up.

As the deal stands, it lacks a legit third baseman going back to Colorado. Considering they are dealing their long-term planned third baseman, perhaps they ask for Rangers top prospect Josh Jung. If that’s the case, Texas likely adjusts their offer taking out either Calhoun or Winn, perhaps both. This type of move has so many moving parts, it’s hard to predict. But at the end of the day, it seems the Rockies are setting a high price for Arenado and Texas can’t pass up the chance to add an MVP caliber player.

It would be an offseason for the ages if the Rangers brought in Castellanos, Kluber and Arenado. Would Jon Daniels and the front office be willing to increase payroll that substantially to get the Rangers back into contention? Maybe. Would it put the Rangers back into playoff contention? It’s very likely with the upgrades to the rotation and the possible additions of two huge bats. At this point, it’s all hypothetical but very fun to speculate how good this Rangers team could be in 2020.

Related Story. Possible Nick Castellanos Domino Effect on Offseason. light