Evaluating a recent trade proposal made between the Texas Rangers and Cincinnati Reds.
Recently, our friends over at Blog Red Machine (FanSided’s Cincinnati Reds site) devised a hypothetical trade involving a Reds starting outfielder and a couple of Rangers hurlers.
You can read the full piece on their site, which can be found here (highly encouraged!).
Does the swap make sense for the Rangers? Let’s evaluate it.
Rangers acquire: OF Jesse Winker
The case for this trade
I know what you’re thinking: The Texas Rangers aren’t in any position to trade for major league players, let alone trading for ones that would require surrendering future assets.
That doesn’t mean the Rangers don’t have needs, however.
As we’ve discussed before, the Rangers outfield depth is questionable, at best. Outside of Joey Gallo, the team is mostly counting on players with high ceilings reaching their potential like Leody Taveras and Willie Calhoun.
While the Rangers can certainly afford to wait out those two players’ development, putting some pressure on them by acquiring a Jesse Winker might give us better insight into the types of players Taveras and Calhoun truly are.
Texas could also continue playing Adolis Garcia in the outfield, or giving recently re-signed Scott Heineman more reps, but neither of those players should be incredibly enticing to Chris Woodward when constructing his optimal lineup.
The fact also remains that the Rangers don’t have much help on the way from the minor leagues in the form of outfielders. Steele Walker and Bubba Thompson are two names that come to mind, but both are still in Double-A and the minor league season was cancelled in 2020, meaning each of their developments was effectively stalled.
Additionally, with Nick Solak‘s expected move to the infield in 2021, the Rangers lose an outfield starter from 2020, and thus takes a further blow to positional depth there.
This is how acquiring a player like Jesse Winker could make some level of sense.
Winker, an above average hitter with the Cincinnati Reds (.859 career OPS, 123 OPS+), has a knack for getting on base (career .380 OBP) and has recently harnessed his power tool, hitting 16 and 12 home runs the last two seasons, respectively.
Winker mostly plays left field, but can play right field more than adequately. In the Rangers’ case, that could allow Joey Gallo to remain in left where he’s comfortable.
From a financial standpoint, Winker is entering his first year of arbitration in 2021, meaning he’ll be relatively cheap ($2.7 million, to be exact) and therefore a perfect fit within the Rangers’ budgetary restrictions this winter.
Though the 27-year-old’s salary will rise incrementally over the next several years as his service time increases, he’s young enough that his price tag could very well be worth it as he enters his prime.
A young, controllable and inexpensive player at a position of need fits the ideal Rangers player profile for acquisitions this-offseason. Winker appears to check those boxes.
The case against this trade
Quite simply, the return package to Cincinnati might be too talent-rich for the Rangers’ liking.
Texas needs all the young assets they can get their hands on, especially in the pitching department.
In lefty Joe Palumbo and righty Kyle Cody, the team has two pieces who could become really important arms going forward.
Palumbo, a 30th round selection by the Rangers in 2013, is regarded as having one of the best curveballs in the entire Rangers system. Teams can’t grow good curveballs on trees; if you’ve got a a hurler with a hook, you would be wise to retain that hook for your organization’s future benefit.
While Palumbo has struggled in his big-league career to this point (combined 9.47 ERA, 1,84 WHIP, 55 ERA+ over parts of two seasons), there’s a ton of upside to like with the southpaw, who doesn’t hit arbitration until 2023 and is under team control until 2026.
In right-hander Kyle Cody, the Rangers got a glimpse of the kind of talent he could be in 2020.
Pitching to a 1.59 ERA over 22.2 innings pitched for Texas last season, Cody perhaps benefitted from some luck (as indicated by a 3.59 FIP and high 5.2 walks per nine innings ratio). However, the former University of Kentucky product still threw well enough to earn five starts down the stretch for Chris Woodward’s squad and could be in line for more starting opportunities in 2021.
Texas appears to have two future pitching cogs in Palumbo and Cody. It’s not easy to find and develop quality pitching. And with the team in the midst of a roster rebuild, I’m not sure it makes too much sense to part ways with those pieces.
It’s not personal, Blog Red Machine.
The simple fact is that while Jesse Winker would technically fit the Rangers and is a solid player, he’s just not what the team needs at this very moment.
Winker is cheap and has years of control, which are both desirable qualities. However, the Rangers need to be hauling in prospects and younger assets at this stage of their rebuild, not trading them away as they would be in this potential swap.
Between Joe Palumbo and Kyle Cody, there’s too much upside for Texas to consider shipping both or even just one away.