Labeling a team as a “buyer” or “seller” is an inevitable exercise endured by baseball observers every July.
And in 2021, it’s no secret where the Texas Rangers fall on the spectrum, especially given the team’s recent 11-game losing streak.
It’s very possible that the post-trade deadline Rangers look mightily different on the field — the subtraction of Joey Gallo alone would accomplish that.
But unlike the last three seasons when Texas could have also been categorized as a “seller”, the most substantial pieces on the roster may actually be on their way out of Arlington this time around.
With this year’s edition of the deadline less than a week away, it’s time to take a look at two different occasions when the Rangers embraced the “sell” label, and acted on it in a big way.
Texas Rangers deal Mark Teixeira to the Atlanta Braves: July 31, 2007
It’s easy to remember the Rangers’ back-to-back World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011 — the moves made by general manager Jon Daniels in the seasons prior may not be as effortless to recall.
The Rangers dealt Teixeira on the day of the deadline in 2007, while owning a 47-59 record and sitting 15.5 games back of first place in AL West. After Daniels reached the conclusion that the first baseman would not resign in Texas, the team acted quickly and capitalized on his trade value.
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Five minor-leaguers were sent to the Rangers in exchange for Teixeira — three of them contributed to the team’s dash to the Fall Classic in both ‘10 and ‘11. The most notable prospect dealt to Texas in the midsummer blockbuster was infielder Elvis Andrus.
In the eyes of Rangers fans both young and old, envisioning Andrus as a low-tier prospect is tough to do, but that’s the label he owned 14 years ago. The shortstop quickly made his way up the ranks within Texas’ system, before making his major-league debut in 2009.
And as the old saying goes, the rest is history.
Pitchers Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz were also packaged with Andrus and two others to make the deal official.
What makes the Teixeira deal to Atlanta so intriguing is how perfectly it represents what every true seller wants when trading a franchise cornerstone. The baseball world may have not known it at the time, but the Rangers would ultimately come out of this deal on top relatively fast.
Acting as a seller isn’t the most flattering label to own. When it results in acquiring a player who would bat leadoff in Game 1 of the World Series three years later however, it can’t be as frustrating as it usually sounds.
Teixeira launched 13 home runs and drove-in 49 runs, while owning an OPS of .921 prior to the trade. With the Braves in remaining 54 games that season, the first baseman played like the team’s most valuable player — 17 home runs, 56 RBI, and an OPS of 1.020 to finish off his ‘07 campaign.
Atlanta would miss the postseason that year, despite Teixeira’s power surge at the plate.
Texas Rangers trade Yu Darvish to the LA Dodgers: July 31, 2017
10 years after the aforementioned Teixeira trade, Texas contributed to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ quest to form a “super rotation”.
The Rangers were five games under .500 at the time of the deal four-years ago. But with the starting pitcher set to hit free agency after the conclusion of the campaign, Texas’ brass had a decision to make on July 31.
The Jeff Banister-managed club received Willie Calhoun, A.J. Alexy, and Brendon Davis in exchange for the once-prized International Free Agent. By now, the Rangers’ faithful have familiarized themselves with Calhoun. But other than the left-handed hitting outfielder, the returns have proved to be limited from Texas’ perspective.
According to Daniels on the day of the deal, the trade was made official only 10 minutes before the actual deadline. The Rangers had hovered around .500 all year long, making the decision to part ways with the right-handed hurler anything but academic — contrary to the position the team is in today.
At the time of the trade, Darvish had an ERA of 4.01 in 22 starts with the Rangers that season. Still, the perceived return at the time appeared to be encouraging. Dealing the hurler in 2017 was something that Daniels described at the time as a “challenging call to make.” Based on the offered package by the Dodgers however, Daniels and the rest of the Rangers’ brass did in fact make the call to send Darvish to Southern California.
Decision time in 2021
On July 30, the Rangers will be forced to yet again make important decisions, but under different circumstances.
Both Gallo and pitcher Kyle Gibson are under control past 2021, contrary to Darvish’s situation in 2017. Whether that makes the two current Rangers All-Stars more or less appealing for a trade from Texas’ perspective is unknown, yet as intriguing as ever when looking back through the team’s trade deadline history.