The Texas Rangers are on the precipice of one of their most important trade deadlines in recent years. Texas has already signaled for their exit of a rebuild and entrance into competitive status through their recent signings and success of prospects. Following a 102-loss season that was the summation of the worst stretch in franchise history, the Rangers are eager to improve.
They’ll be looking at controllable, high-end players to round out the team. The complication comes from their showing to maximize value in trade which reduces the likelihood of a star prospect that would cost them a haul. So in following the Rangers game plan you’ll want to look for former top prospects who are currently blocked or had their value diminished in recent days i.e., Spencer Howard.
3 prospects the Texas Rangers should target in trades this summer
1. Alec Burleson, OF – Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals’ number nine prospect should be near the top of the list of targets for the Rangers.
The 2020 2nd round selection out of East Carolina had immediate success in A+ and AA before struggling in his promotion to AAA. He’s since quieted any concerns in 2022 by slashing .333/.378/.566 with 16 home runs in 67 games. A multi-position player in college, he plays an adequate right field with a strong arm from his relief pitching experience. He’s already 23 and shown he’s nearly ready for the major leagues but is currently blocked by Harrison Bader, Daniel Carlson, and Tyler O’Neill.
The Cardinals could opt to trade from one of the current fielders but they too are looking to compete now and are unlikely to dispose of a major league-proven bat instead of Burleson’s potential. The Cardinals could look to upgrade their shortstop and starting pitching which fits the Rangers’ over-flow of prospects.
Adding Burleson to a lineup consisting of Smith, Seager, Semien, Garcia, and Jung would create a potent batting order and give the Rangers the much-needed power swing from a corner spot. Burleson may currently be the ninth-ranked prospect but will quickly be in the top-five when updated rankings come out. Martin Perez wouldn’t be enough to land him as Perez is only on a one-year deal so the trade will most likely be centered around Ezequiel Duran.
2. Kyle Muller, SP – Braves
Muller is currently the top-ranked pitching prospect for the Braves, but like Burleson, is blocked from cracking their major league rotation.
Embattled by injury, Muller fits the Spencer Howard mold of high potential, – high-risk prospect. Over the course of the 2021-22 seasons, he carries a 3.19 ERA in AAA through 161 combined innings. His brief 2022 major league stint didn’t go quite as planned as he was hammered by Texas for seven runs in 2.2 innings that saw him walk six batters and was immediately optioned back to AAA. Since being optioned he has fixed the issues that plagued him posting a 1.87 ERA with only six walks to 43 strikeouts in 33.2 innings.
Muller would be difficult to pry from Atlanta but the defending world champs are without a doubt looking to repeat their success and return to the winter classic this year. While in a division with the New York Mets, it won’t be easy, so they’ll have to be aggressive this time around to turn the tide. They’ve shown a pattern of avoiding the high financial cost trade candidates at the deadline and as any playoff contender, will look to upgrade their front-line pitching and bullpen.
Now, to make things trickier, Jon Daniels has recently stated they are looking to get away from the habit of trading away their veteran players but it would be near malpractice not to entertain an offer for players on one-year deals. Martin Perez would give the Braves another proven veteran pitcher to front-load a playoff rotation, Matt Moore has looked every bit as one of the best available bullpen arms capable of pitching multiple innings and Charlie Culberson would bring home a fan-favorite player to add infield depth and pinch run-in tight situations.
3. Jarren Duran, OF – Red Sox
Former top 25 prospects may or may not be on the move this summer, but with the competitive Red Sox being forced to compete in one of the toughest divisions in baseball, you can expect them to be aggressive in their pursuit for improvement.
The speedy outfielder Duran was a former seventh-round draft pick whose stock has risen with his play. A consistent bat-first guy, he has a career slash line of .307/.373/.473 with117 extra-base hits through 302 games played. He has made the most of his second major league stint while filling in for Kike Hernandez.
Currently going 19 for 57 (.333) with one home run, the Red Sox may stay pat with Duran as a fourth outfielder but are likely to look into using his success as leverage to improve their bullpen. Another reason to move Duran is his move to the OF is relatively recent leading to sub-par defensive play which can become a liability.
The Texas Rangers, on the other hand, have the time necessary to allow his adjustment to the new position. Even though Duran was a top 25 overall prospect who had success, his trade would come at the cheapest of the three for the Rangers. As prior mentioned, Boston will look to bolster their bullpen as their main need. Just like with the deal with Atlanta, Matt Moore is the obvious trade candidate as his 2.02 ERA in 35.2 innings has proven he’s one of the better relievers available. Adding Kole Calhoun provides them with a greater defender with power and leadership capabilities. Rounding out the trade would be middle-tier prospects such as Trevor Hauver, or Cody Bradford/AJ Alexy if they prefer.
The Texas Rangers will definitely look to be buyers this trade deadline with their eyes set towards controllable front-line starter and outfield help but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be solely focused on proven major leaguers.
Sometimes, the best help can come from unlikely players and these are a few of the prospects the Texas Rangers should consider to continue their plan for a long-term competitive team.