With the MLB trade rumor season in full swing, the Texas Rangers are being linked to former team member, Lance Lynn. Bob Nightengale of USA Today, has reported, and the idea was further explored by MLB Trade Rumors, that the Rangers have "strong interest in" the 36-year-old righty.
Rangers' fans have fond memories of the hurler, as he had a fantastic 2019 campaign for the club. That season he started 33 games, pitched 208 1/3 innings, went 16-11, struck out 246 against 59 walks, had a 3.67 ERA, and a 1.219 WHIP to finish fifth in the AL Cy Young voting. Many of us Rangers' fans were in attendance when Lynn went 7 1/3 strong innings against the Yankees to pick up the win and close out Globe Life Park on Sept 29th of that year.
In the COVID shortened 2020 season, Lynn was just as impressive. In 13 starts he pitched 84 innings, went 6-3, struck out 89 against 25 walks, had a 3.32 ERA, and a 1.060 WHIP to finish sixth in the AL Cy Young race.
After the 2020 season, it was clear that the Rangers were in full rebuild mode. Lynn was traded to the Chicago White Sox that offseason for Dane Dunning and Avery Weems. Dunning has obviously worked out great, as he is a big part of the staff at this point. Weems has struggled and is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery that he had earlier this year.
Despite the addition of Aroldis Chapman, the Rangers are in desperate need of additional quality arms in the bullpen. They could also use some depth in the rotation as well. Jake Odorizzi was supposed to give the club some of that depth, but he will not throw a pitch for the organization this season due to injury. Obviously, the loss of Jacob deGrom was a big blow to the rotation as well. Dunning has filled in admirably, but both Andrew Heaney and Martin Perez have been struggling lately. Heaney is already at 86 innings pitched, which is the most that he has recorded since 2021 when he only had 129 2/3.
The good news about trading for Lynn, is that he can more than likely be acquired on the cheap as he is in the middle of his worst professional season. The bad news is that he is in the middle of his worst professional season. In 18 starts and 103 innings pitched, Lynn has struck out 127 against 37 walks, has surrendered a MLB leading 22 home runs, has a 6.03 ERA, and a 1.417 WHIP. He just hasn't been good, although his last start was a glimpse at his former, dominate self.
Last Thursday against a stout Blue Jay's offense, Lynn when 7 innings, surrendered no runs, on only one hit and one walk, while striking out 11. That is the Lance Lynn of old and the one that the Rangers will be hoping for if they do make a deal with the White Sox.
His home run% has gone from a 12-year career average of 2.5% to 4.8% this season. Also, early on in his career, Lynn had control problems and issued a large number of walks. But after going to the Yankees at the trade deadline in 2018, that hasn't been an issue at all, until it resurfaced this season. From 2019 thru 2022 Lynn's walk% was 6.5%, but this season it has been elevated at 8.1%. Ironically, he has seen an uptick in his strikeout percentage as well. For his career, Lynn sits at 24.1% strikeout%, but this season it is up to 27.9%.
Lynn would be a rental of sorts, but his contract does come with a club option for 2024. If he were to pitch well over the remainder of the season the Rangers would be able to pick up the $18 million for 2024 or if he doesn't, simply buy him out for $1 million. He is due approximately $8.3 million for the remainder of 2023. If the Rangers send Chicago better prospects the White Sox would more than likely pick up part of his salary. This gives each team plenty of room to negotiate a trade that would be suitable for both parties.
The golden rule of pitching is don't give up free passes and keep the ball in the yard. Lynn has had a hard time doing both of those things this season. Because of that, he shouldn't cost the Rangers a ton in the form of players, or prospects. The upside with Lynn, is that he is about as gutsy and tough as they come and has already had success in Texas. Perhaps a reunion with his former club is just what the doctor ordered for a resurgence of form, for the hard-nosed veteran starter.