The Texas Rangers are in first place in the AL West and we are getting close to the end of July. What many national pundits and naysayers looked at as a nice little run to start the season, has turned into a four-month assault on the competition. Many believed that this season would be a big step in getting back to the playoffs, but no one anticipated this kind of results.
Sometimes in sports a window of opportunity doesn't open as soon as expected and other times it opens a bit quicker than it was thought to happen. The Rangers seem to be squarely in the middle of an opportunity that, for this franchise, hasn't come around very often. I hate to remind everyone, but Texas has just four playoff series victories since it's time in Arlington started in 1972. Actually, that dubious record goes all the way back to the Washington Senator days and 1961. Not four championships, or even four World Series appearances, but four playoff series wins. That has a chance to change this season, but there is much work still to be done.
To be, or not to be aggressive at the trade deadline, that is the question facing the Texas Rangers
One of the burning questions that Chris Young (CY) needs to answer at the trade deadline, is how aggressive the organization should be. There are obvious needs, both in the bullpen, as well as in the rotation. Even as great as the offense has been this year, another bat either in leftfield or at DH could be a nice addition. CY has already shown that he isn't going to sit on the sidelines, by going out last month and picking up Aroldis Chapman from the Royals. How many more moves will the Rangers make, and how big will they be?
The answer is that CY should (and all signs point to the fact that he will be) aggressive over the next week and a half. The market is going to be a tough one for buyers, as there are a number of teams that will be vying for many of the same players. With the expanded playoffs that started last season, more teams are within striking distance of the three wildcard spots that are up for grabs in each league. This makes the number of buyers greater than in most previous seasons.
Does being aggressive mean that CY has to land Shohei Ohtani at the deadline? Absolutely not. But he might. Who wouldn't want another ace quality pitcher and heart of the order bat? The price would be high, and there will be no extension agreed upon before a deal would be made. He would be a straight up rental, but what a rental he would be! Could a deal for Juan Soto, Blake Snell, Dylan Cease, Cody Bellinger, Marcus Stroman, David Bednar, just to name a few, be in the cards? Yes, they could.
Texas Rangers need to seize the day
To me all of the normal cliches apply...carpe diem, seize the day - strike while the iron is hot, etc. There are zero guarantees in sports. There is no guarantee that if CY gets some major trades done over the next few days that it will lead to a deep playoff run and ultimately a World Series championship. There is also no guarantees that the Rangers will be sitting in the same spot over the next few years. We would all think that Texas is going to be contenders for the next four to five years, but many of us thought that back in 2016 when the club won 95 games. That winning window was shutting at a rapid pace and preceded a six-year skid of epic proportions.
This year's San Diego Padres, St. Louis Cardinals, and New York Mets, along with others, find themselves as potential sellers at the break instead of gearing up for the playoffs. Looking toward the future is fine when the season isn't quite going well, but when the team is playing at the level that the Rangers are, actions need to align with doing everything possible to win now. Don't gut the farm system but parlay it into something extra special in Arlington.
Because of the price that sellers are likely to be asking, and getting, for players this year, the rental market could very well be a good place to operate. It is sometimes tough to see prospects head to another team for a player that will only be with the club for two months of the regular season and hopefully a long playoff slate. I get it, I absolutely love prospects, and enjoy dreaming of someday seeing them dominate in Arlington. The reality is, that they are prospects for a reason...they are not big leaguers yet.
Fear shouldn't guide the Texas Rangers deadline strategy
Some trades will end up stinging, as a prospect traded to another organization goes on to great things. That is simply part of the business of baseball. In the world of trades, there will be hits and there will be misses. It is the risk that goes along with making trades, and only time will determine the ultimate winners of each transaction. The fear of getting it wrong can't control the narrative.
At the end of the day, the Texas Rangers want to win championships. CY has talked about it from the time that he took over when John Daniels was let go. Ray Davis has talked about it, both with his words and with his pocketbook. This 2023 Rangers team is poised for great things, and perhaps a properly executed trade or two will be what it takes to push the organization to that elusive World Series title.
If trades are made, there will surely be some top prospects and or major leaguers that leave the Rangers. That will be a sad part of the deals, but if the new pieces that are added can propel the team to the holy grail, then it will all be worth it. And if it doesn't pan out, at least CY will know that he made moves that, at the time, put the Rangers in a better position to succeed. The farm won't be completely sold off at the trade deadline this year, but if many pieces are moved for a big push, I wouldn't be surprised. Buckle up Rangers fans, the fun ride continues!