The MLB Trade Deadline is less than a week away and if the Texas Rangers do opt to sell, these players headline the group that might be available.
We have now entered into peak MLB Trade Deadline season and although the market seems to be somewhat quiet now, there still is potential for it to heat up over the coming days. The Texas Rangers have the ability to play a notable role in the deadline’s proceedings holding a number of players that could carry value on the trade market including arguably the most valuable pitcher potentially available. Among those that Texas might part with before the end of the month though, who carries the most value in terms of a return for the club’s future?
RHP Lance Lynn
The most obvious candidate to be dealt and the one worth the most to the Rangers in terms of a return package is starter Lance Lynn. The 33-year old has been dominant this season holding opponents to two runs or fewer in each of his seven starts this season. His 1.59 ERA, paired with a .155 batting average against has made him a top candidate for the AL Cy Young award this season. This season isn’t just a fluke either with Lynn among the most valuable pitchers in baseball last season in terms of WAR and finishing 5th in AL Cy Young voting.
Lynn’s dominance and ace ability carries some value but his consideration as potentially the most valuable starting pitcher available is driven by his team friendly contract that runs through next season. That adds a lot more value to contenders who would be acquiring Lynn’s services for more than just a few weeks in this COVID-shortened campaign. The burly right-hander has already been generating plenty of interest as the trade deadline nears and we’re only sure to see his name thrown around even more as the days to make a deal dwindle.
RHP Rafael Montero
Rafael Montero joins Lynn as another pitcher who joined the Rangers for a relatively low cost and has since seen his value hit a career high. The right-hander who has taken over the closer role in Texas with the recent injury to Jose Leclerc has been lights out in nearly every appearance he’s had this season since returning from an injury at the beginning of the year.
Montero is set for arbitration the next two seasons making him free agent eligible after the 2022 campaign. That adds value to a potential buyer who would be adding a high-leverage reliever for this season plus two additional years rather than as a rental reliever, a group who have seen their value decrease drastically of late. Still, Montero’s 10.57 K/9 rate and .143 opponent batting average make him an intriguing relief option on this year’s trade market.
The question for the Rangers then becomes whether or not Montero could net enough of a return to justify sacrificing two seasons of cheap production from a 29-year old reliever who is just now hitting his stride. Texas has made a bit of a habit of developing quality, late-inning relievers and has plenty more just a year or two away from being in the big league mix. With Jose Leclerc set to be back for next season and the emergence of Jonathan Hernandez as a legitimate late game weapon, should the Rangers look to cash in on their reclamation project now?
LHP Joely Rodriguez
Texas finds themselves in a similar situation to Montero with left-hander Joely Rodriguez. Brought back from playing overseas this season, Rodriguez has settled in nicely since joining the club. In 7.2 innings Rodriguez has struck out 10 and allowed just one earned run on a handful of baserunners.
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He’s not quite as cost effective as Montero but he also has the potential to be with a team through the 2022 season thanks to a $3,000,000 team option in his age-30 season. Still only 28, Rodriguez still has plenty of time left as a reliever and with an affordable two years remaining after this season, is a tempting pursuit for potential deadline buyers.
Rodriguez also carries some value as a left-handed reliever who has looked unhittable against lefties and not much kinder to righties. It’s likely he could find a role as a 7th or 8th inning reliever on a contender if a team is willing to offer up something that makes a deal worth it to the Rangers.
INF Todd Frazier
There’s a theme among the Rangers most tradeable assets and that’s they were buy-low candidate who have since outperformed their contracts to varying degrees. While Todd Frazier hasn’t been quite the bargain Lynn was, he’s still fairly cost-effective for a veteran who continues to demolishes left-handed pitching.
A team looking to add Frazier is one who likely needs some corner infield depth or needs a platoon option to counteract left-handed starters down the road. While that’s a niche group, Frazier might be the best option that could be available at the deadline. In 2020 Frazier is hitting .375 against left-handed pitching and has a wild 175 wRC+ in 37 plate appearances. While those numbers feel unsustainable to a degree, Frazier has always been one to crush southpaws and last year finished the season with a .913 OPS in 142 plate appearances.
Frazier wouldn’t have to be a rental either with his $5.75 million team option for the 2021 season. Texas probably would have to kick in some money to either cover his $1.5 million buyout or pay part of his salary next year but that’s a fairly team friendly price for a player that can play both corner infield positions when needed.
INF/OF Danny Santana
A super-utility man who has been an everyday player for the Rangers since his call up last season, Danny Santana looked like the next great breakout star for the Rangers. While he’s cooled off this season, he can still be a valuable player thanks in large part to his versatility around the diamond and at then plate.
A switch-hitter with decent career spits, Santana has played every position for the Rangers since joining last season except for pitcher and catcher. He also is a player with another season of control after this year and it’ll be at a pretty respectable price point as he finishes out his arbitration years.
Any potential deal here will likely hinge on whether the acquiring team values Santana closer to his 2019 production or to his 2020 production. If it’s the former, Texas is likely to view Santana as a nice buy-low, sell-high project that represents a bit of good business by the team. If not, the Rangers won’t hesitate to try and get Santana back to a semblance of his 2019 performance and deploy him as a stop-gap at whichever position they feel is most in need of help over the next season and some change.