The Texas Rangers are going to make a big trade soon. That much seems obvious. The question that remains is when GM Chris Young will decide to pull the trigger.
Texas has a deep farm system that includes several promising middle infielders who are likely blocked at the major league level for the foreseeable future by Corey Seager and Marcus Semien. They also have a strong crop of pitching prospects along with multiple outfielders who could have tremendous trade value if the Rangers decided they were willing to part ways with them.
It won’t be a surprise if the Rangers swing a deal before Spring Training, but they could also wait until the 2023 Trade Deadline. By this point, the Rangers should have a clearer picture of their most obvious needs along with their position in the standings. Teams also may be more willing to listen to offers for specific players who aren’t currently in trade talks.
The Rangers have shown a willingness to make this kind of splash before. Leadership was different during the summer of 2010 when the Rangers acquired Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe from the Mariners in exchange for Justin Smoak and three prospects, but the impact was obvious. Could the Rangers have another deal like this up their sleeve?
If the team decides to wait until the season to make a deal, there are several big names who might be available. Here are six players the Texas Rangers could (or should) target during the 2023 season.
6 players the Texas Rangers could acquire at the 2023 MLB Trade Deadline
We’ll leave out some of the obvious candidates that have already been talked about in detail such as the Pirates’ Bryan Reynolds and the Marlins’ and Brewers’ top pitchers. They could certainly be available next season, but we’re looking for some less obvious options.
Ohtani would be a massive acquisition for the Rangers, even if they could only guarantee a few months of him playing in a Rangers uniform. The two-way MVP is set to become a free agent after the 2023 season and could command a contract that far exceeds previous records. There’s a chance the Angels are unwilling to trade Ohtani to a division rival, and it will take a lot to meet their asking price. If there’s any chance that Ohtani becomes available, there’s little doubt that Chris Young will pick up the phone.
The Guardians have shown a willingness to trade their stars before they reach free agency in the past, although they did just sign four-time All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez to a massive contract extension. There’s a sense that Bieber may become available via trade before he becomes a free agent in 2024. He would form a nice 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation alongside Jacob deGrom that would give the Texas Rangers a tremendous level of confidence in any postseason matchup.
The Texas Rangers would like to upgrade their bullpen, and Hendricks might be the best available closer. He has saved 114 games over the past four years while posting an ERA under three in each of the last four seasons. Hendricks is under contract through 2023 and has a club option for 2024.
Like the Indians, the Rays are another team that doesn’t let their position in the standings dictate whether or not they make their star players expendable. And before you say that it’s never a good idea to trade with the Rays, remind me who it took for the Rangers to acquire Nathaniel Lowe from the Rays before the 2021 season? Glasnow came back late in the 2022 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He gave up one earned run in two starts and pitched 6.2 innings. He signed a two-year extension before the conclusion of last season, but nobody on the Rays is ever untouchable, and Glasnow will want to test the market if he can continue this type of production.
The Padres made the NLCS last season and recently signed Xander Boegarts to an 11-year, $280 million contract. Why would they want to trade an MVP-caliber outfielder who they traded for less than one year ago? Soto doesn’t yet have a contract extension, and the Padres have some tough decisions to make in their future. Manny Machado can opt out after the 2023 season, and the Padres are already in a position where they will have to pay the luxury tax to keep their team together.
If they don’t feel like they have a good chance to resign Soto, they could look to unload him while recouping some of the assets they gave away to lure him from the Nationals at the 2022 deadline. The Rangers had conversations with the Nationals about trading for Soto before they dealt him to the Padres, and it makes sense to imagine them getting involved if he were to become available again.
Verdugo has never lived up to the massive expectations he brought with him to Boston after headlining the deal that sent Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers. After losing Xander Boegarts in free agency and facing the possibility of watching Rafael Devers walk away next off-season, the Sox could look to clean house.
This would mean trading Verdugo, who is under contract through 2025. Verdugo totaled 7.3 WAR between 2019 and 2021, but only registered 1.2 WAR during the 2022 season. He’ll turn 27 next May and still has plenty of time to turn things around before he hits his prime.