In light of the Jacob deGrom news about him undergoing elbow surgery and missing the rest of the 2023 season, the question from fans becomes who are the Rangers going to trade for to replace him? That is the wrong question. It should be do the Rangers need to replace him? deGrom has been out since April 29th. The Rangers are 25-10 since he went on the IL. The Rangers are still winning games and they have replaced deGrom in the rotation with Dane Dunning. The more I look at the players available at the deadline and what they have done so far, the more I am thinking they just stick with the status quo. Focus on the needs in the bullpen and rely on internal options for the rotation.
They do not just need a guy, if they are going to trade for someone it should be a player that will be in their 4-man playoff rotation. The starter that they would trade for has to be better than Perez or Heaney. I am not sure if that player is out there currently. Sure, if Shohei Ohtani is made available that is different or if Milwaukee starts taking trade offers for Corbin Burnes. If the potential trade is for a pitcher who is not going to be in the playoff rotation then I am comfortable staying with the five pitchers they already have.
The Texas Rangers are a really good team
We cannot forget that the Rangers are 40-21, second best record in the American League, This is not a team that is barely getting by and needs an injection of energy. They are rolling through their schedule. They have a 4.5 game lead in the division over the World Series champion Houston Astros. They are leading the majors in run differential. They have won seven straight series going back to mid-May when they barely lost the series against the Atlanta Braves.
If you look at the numbers of the starting rotation they have remained stellar even without deGrom. The overall ERA on June 8th is 3.13, second in the major leagues. They are second in the majors in innings pitched by starting pitchers at 353 2/3. They are third in batting average against at .231. Finally, they lead the majors in wins at 29 and only two of those wins are from Jacob deGrom. The rotation that consists of Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Gray, Martin Perez, Andrew Heaney, and Dane Dunning is doing more than enough to give the Rangers a chance to win every single game.
One area of concern with the Texas Rangers' rotation
The depth of the rotation has been hurt with the loss of deGrom and losing Jake Odorizzi back in spring training. They also lost Spencer Howard and Cole Ragans to bullpen roles. Really the depth they have consists of Cody Bradford, Kyle Cody, Cole Winn, Owen White, and maybe Jack Leiter later this season. Bradford is pitching well for Round Rock and in his two appearances with the Rangers. Cody and Winn are struggling at Triple-A Round Rock. White and Leiter are still both in Double-A.
They also should have reinforcements coming after the all-star break. They will likely have Glenn Otto back as a viable option in July to start games. Zak Kent has been out since late April with a strained oblique, hopefully, he will soon be starting games and can become an option in the second half. They also could send Ragans down to Triple-A and stretch him out in July to be an option. The Rangers do have internal options in case a spot start is needed or in case of a short-term injury issue.
Texas Rangers helped Chicago Cubs win their 2016 World Series title
The Rangers got in trouble during the last run of contention when they added average starting pitchers to the rotation in exchange for good prospects. I think of trading for Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster in consecutive seasons. Those trades lost them Kyle Hendricks, Carl Edwards Jr, and Justin Grimm. Each of those players would become contributors to the Cubs 2016 World Series Champion team. Those were trades that did not help Texas in the short term and hindered the ability of the team to win in the long term.
The Rangers should be active at the deadline. I am wanting them to continue pushing forward and doing what they can to strengthen the team and make the playoffs and be able to advance once in the field. I am also not wanting them to trade for a starter just so that they have one. Chris Young needs to be mindful of how he uses the prospect inventory that has been accumulated over the last five years. Focus on improving the bullpen at the deadline. That is where the need is and where championships are won and lost in October.