How the Lance Lynn trade impacts the Rangers

In the first major trade of the 2020 MLB Winter Meetings, Lance Lynn has a new home on the South Side of Chicago while the Rangers hauled in two potential pieces of their future.

Who would’ve thought that the first blockbuster transaction of the Winter Meetings would belong to the Rangers?

Well turns out it did, as Texas traded right-hander Lance Lynn to the Chicago White Sox in the waning hours of Monday night.

It was an already a busy first day at the Winter Meetings for Jon Daniels and company, who formally introduced Chris Young as the team’s new GM earlier on Monday.

In exchange for Lynn, the Rangers received two pitching prospects from Chicago, right-hander Dane Dunning (White Sox’ No. 5 prospect) and minor-league left-hander Avery Weems.

The trade, while not yet official, was first reported by ESPN MLB Insider Jeff Passan.

Lynn has served as the Rangers’ ace for the past two seasons, finishing his stint in Arlington with a highly effective 3.57 ERA, 3.43 FIP, 1.17 WHIP and 140 ERA+ over 292.1 innings pitched. He made 46 starts combined during his two seasons in Texas, attesting to his durability.

The Rangers would have traded Lynn at this past August’s trade deadline, but The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported Tuesday that the veteran right-hander would have utilized the COVID opt-out had he been dealt to a team he did not approve of.

Nevertheless, the Rangers made sure to capitalize on Lynn’s value while it was still high, not bound to make the same mistake they did with a similar player not long ago.

Left-hander Mike Minor, who posted a 3.59 ERA over 208.1 innings pitched for Texas in 2019, was not traded during or after that season despite the team’s struggles. In fact, Minor wasn’t dealt until mid-season in 2020, when he was finally traded to the division rival Oakland A’s. However, his value had plummeted due to his rough start in 2020 and thus the Rangers received a significantly lesser return than what they could have netted.

Texas couldn’t afford to make the same mistake this time around with Lynn, and they made sure to take advantage of the circumstances.

Lynn, who has one year remaining on his current deal, will basically be a rental for the contending White Sox, unless they were to extend him after next season. He will be a boost to Chicago’s rotation as they look to make the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

For the Rangers, they not only begin their rebuild in earnest with the Lynn trade, but they accomplished two major goals in shedding salary (though Lynn was only to be owed $8 million in 2021) and more importantly, in acquiring two pieces who could be very important to the team as they kickstart their rebuild.

Any good rebuilding franchise needs to possess sound player development and a solid minor league system. It’s safe to say Texas hasn’t had much luck in either of those departments recently.

This is especially the case with pitching, where Texas has not been successful in hitting on homegrown talents over the last several years.

That’s where newly-acquired prospects Dane Dunning and Avery Weems come in.

Dunning, previously the White Sox’ No. 5 overall prospect, already has MLB credentials, having made seven starts for the South Siders in 2020. In those starts, the young right-hander pitched to a 3.97 ERA and 3.99 FIP over 34 total innings.

His 113 ERA+ and 1.11 WHIP over that same span indicate he was truly pitching at the level his surface numbers suggest, a positive sign as he continues to develop.

Because Dunning hasn’t made enough starts or pitched enough innings in the big leagues yet, he maintains his rookie prospect standing heading into 2021, a boon for the Rangers.

Dunning figures to slot into the Rangers rotation immediately upon his arrival, meaning the Rangers won’t have to wait long to find out what they have in the right-hander, as is normally the case with trading for prospects.

The second prospect, Avery Weems, is more of an unknown.

Weems, a left-hander on the White Sox’ rookie-level team, is not listed among Chicago’s Top 30 prospects according to MLB.com, nor does he make Baseball America’s White Sox Top Prospect list. However, he’s just 23 years old and appears to already possess solid command of his pitches.

A 74-to-10 strikeout to walk ratio? We’ll take that any day. That’s nearly a seven to one K:BB ratio, a figure most Major League pitchers can’t attain, let alone a hurler in rookie ball.

Weems will require time to develop, as he hasn’t pitched past rookie level affiliates. And with the minor league season being cancelled in 2020, another year will likely have to be tacked onto Weem’s timeline.

The Rangers have that time to give, though. Surely, it will be fascinating to monitor the young lefty’s development within the organization.

All in all, Texas did extremely well to net two intriguing young arms in Dane Dunning and Avery Weems for one year of Lance Lynn. And if the Rangers are successful in the next few years, we might have this trade to thank for that success.