The Texas Rangers have a history of late bloomers.
One of the toughest things about having a rebuilding franchise is that any emerging talent is viewed as trade fodder – or, at least, that worry exists among the fans. And it’s a bummer to think about. Difficult decisions have to be made for teams that aren’t competing; do they keep the guys who provide value to their struggling franchise, or do they send them off for a higher return and future investment?
I think it’s safe to say that Texas is in a really good spot when it comes to this dilemma – better than they’ve been in a really long time, actually. For starters, the team is no longer shelling out money to veterans like Andrus, Choo, Minor, and Lynn, who were all welcomed and enjoyed as high-profile players here, but weren’t helping the Rangers win long term. Nick Solak, Joey Gallo, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Willie Calhoun, Nate Lowe, and Jonah Heim are all 27 years old or younger. That’s two-thirds of the general batting order for Texas.
Where the Rangers need to get younger is in their rotation. Kyle Gibson seems to be the most entertaining deadline piece for Texas to move, as he’s enjoying a stellar year so far on the mound and won’t turn 34 until October, leaving a beneficial window for a team looking for pitching depth. With Gibson being placed on the 10-day IL on May 25 and Arihara out for three months, the Rangers decided to call up Demarcus Evans, a 24-year-old pitching prospect who hurled four innings for the club in 2020. He has a career 2.52 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in the minors to go along with 385 strikeouts. Kolby Allard could also see some action as a starter, as the 23-year-old’s numbers have vastly improved during his time coming out of the bullpen.
Looking at the history of the Rangers, particularly within the last ten to fifteen years, most of the star talent has been players late into their twenties and beyond. This front office hasn’t relied on its farm system to put a winning team on the field, and they haven’t really needed to, either. Josh Hamilton didn’t win his MVP until his age 29 season. Nelson Cruz didn’t emerge as one of the league’s best power hitters until he was 29 and into his early 30’s. Adrian Beltre, perhaps the most beloved player in franchise history, didn’t even become a Ranger until he was 32.
The Rangers don’t have one of the hottest farm systems in baseball. They’re not pumping out big-league talent left and right, and while reaping the benefits of a great development system puts teams at a much higher probability of building a championship-contending roster, Texas has completely overhauled the attention of its 2021 roster to its youth. As mentioned above, two-thirds of their general lineup are all 27 or younger. Dane Dunning has looked very confident on the mound for a 26-year-old pitcher who only just made his MLB debut in August of 2020. The point is, the Rangers have guys who can blossom over the next six to seven years as perennial ballplayers, and they’re not stuck giving roster spots to guys past age 33/34 who aren’t contributing to at least some semblance of a future for the team.
But where does that leave Adolis? There have been murmurings of Garcia emerging as a trade piece because of his age. Realistically, if he were to maintain this level of production, fans could expect, at best, around a six-year window of him at his prime. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell based off less than 50 games of a sample size whether he’s a long-term impact guy or not. Cruz slashed .303/.397/.595 with 16 HR in the shortened 2020 season at age 39. It’s not impossible, and certainly not in this era, for athletes to carry their value well into their thirties.