Should the Texas Rangers include Jack Leiter in a trade for a top MLB starter?

The Texas Rangers are looking to add at least one quality starter either via trade or free agency this offseason. It could happen as early as this week at the MLB Winter Meetings.
Texas Rangers Spring Training
Texas Rangers Spring Training / Ben Ludeman/Texas Rangers/GettyImages

GM Chris Young has made it clear that the Texas Rangers would like to acquire at least one more solid starting pitcher to add to the rotation. However, what isn't clear is if the Rangers will be signing said pitcher via free agency or working a trade to get a hurler with more than one year of team control. Signing free agents costs more money while the trade route costs some combination of dollars and prospects. Fortunately, the Rangers have both. One idea that has been floating around first from Evan Grant at the Dallas Morning News, and then from MLB Trade Rumors, is possibly including Jack Leiter in a potential trade for a controllable starter.

This is an idea that less than a year ago would have been torn down by fans and the front office alike. Leiter was selected 2nd overall in the 2021 MLB draft. Those types of selections are not moved on from lightly. That is why even having this discussion is a bit jarring for some. The reality is, I would be surprised if Leiter is traded for one reason and one reason only, his stock is near an all-time low. He would no longer be the center piece of a trade and unless it is a really sweet deal for the Rangers, CY isn't just going to throw Leiter in for giggles.

Jack Leiter's new mechanics give Texas Rangers hope for his future

Leiter was shut down in the middle of the 2023 season and revamped his mechanics in a pretty drastic way. The reason for the overhaul is that his control has been his number one issue since turning pro. You can see the difference in delivery before and after his mechanical rebuild below.

I do think that it might not be the right time to be trading Leiter. The team hasn't given up on him and he has the tools to end up being a solid MLB starter someday. But if a deal came along that would give the Rangers a top of the rotation starter (say Dylan Cease) that has two or more years of team control, maybe CY does add Leiter to the trade package to get the trade across the finish line. I absolutely love prospects, but I love winning at the big-league level more. So, if moving a former top prospect will help the team in Arlington win more games over the next couple years and give them a better chance at a serious playoff run, I am all for it.

To trade or not to trade? That is the question. I would lean on the side of not trading right now because it feels like a buy high sell low deal. But again, if CY can work his negotiating skills and get another team to put enough value in Leiter's upside with the new delivery and not his current body of work, then by all means, make the trade.

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