As the MLB trade rumors start heating up, there is no doubt that the number one target for Chris Young, and the Texas Rangers is going to be a back of the bullpen arm(s). With the loss of Jacob deGrom, the team could also be looking at adding an additional starter. And while the offense is scoring at a historic pace, never count out an additional bat if the price is right.
But the obvious focus is going to be on the bullpen. The Rangers' relievers started out the season doing no wrong, but quickly turned to a group that seemed to have lost their way. Over the last few weeks, the Texas bullpen has performed much better, but that doesn't mean there still isn't a need. Despite the improved performance as of late, the Rangers' bullpen still ranks 22nd in MLB with a 4.37 ERA. The urgency has perhaps slowed, but CY needs to add at least one or two arms to bolster the pen and make a push to the playoffs and beyond.
Texas Rangers rumors: Should the Rangers trade for Scott Barlow, Aroldis Chapman, or perhaps both?
In a June 16th article in The Athletic (subscription required), former MLB general manager Jim Bowden takes a look at what he deems as the biggest needs for all 30 teams at the trade deadline. It comes as no surprise that when addressing the Rangers, Bowden said, "The Rangers have been burning up the phones trying to add to the back of their bullpen, which is clearly their biggest need at this point."
He goes on to look at a potential dance partner, in the Kansas City Royals. The Royals are in a battle with the Oakland Athletics to see who will finish dead last in MLB this season. It is likely that the A's will win that battle but being 29th in MLB makes Kansas City a team that will be in sell mode for the next month and a half.
The two specific relievers that Bowden mentioned in his article is right hander Scott Barlow and lefty Aroldis Chapman. Barlow is an off-speed throwing reliever that according to Baseball Savant, uses his slider 43.7% of the time, his curve 28.9%, and his 92 mph four-seam fastball 23.2%, with the remainder being a few sinkers thrown in for good measure. After strong seasons in both 2021 and 2022, Barlow has struggled a bit this year. He does have seven saves and 36 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings of work, but also has a 4.21 ERA. Barlow is arbitration eligible for next season, before becoming an unrestricted free agent after the 2024 campaign, thus making him more than a simple rental arm.
Chapman on the other hand, would be a rental arm, but one that throws absolute gas. His four-seamer averages 99.5 mph and reaches over 100 mph quite often. The Royals signed Chapman in the offseason to a one-year contract, and will no doubt be looking to turn him into a prospect or two as they build for the future. Over 24 1/3 innings, he has 44 strikeout, 17 walks (which isn't ideal), a 2.96 ERA, and a 1.76 FIP. He is a seven-time all-star and was a rental arm that helped the Chicago Cubs win the World Series in 2016.
As the rumor season is just getting underway, there are sure to be many more that crop up over the next month and a half. One thing is for sure, the Rangers will not be sellers as in recent years past, but will be buyers, as they look to get back to the playoffs in 2023.