The Rangers Should Sacrifice Some of Their Prospects to Win This Year

Wednesday July 25th, 2012

Sam Evans: The Texas Rangers are currently 57-39, which gives them the second-best record in baseball behind only the New York Yankees. Texas isn’t just playing for this year, they also have enough prospects to acquire anyone they want at the trade deadline. Instead of waiting for young players to develop, the Rangers should recognize their chance to win it all this year, and trade away a couple of those players. If Texas could acquire a top of the rotation starter or a superstar outfielder, they should seriously consider trading some of their finest young prospects.

It will take a lot for the Texas Rangers to miss the playoffs this year. Despite playing in a division featuring an interesting Angels team, and a surging Oakland ballclub, Texas still has the highest playoff odds (99.8% chance) according to Baseball Prospectus. The Rangers could probably start Matt Kata instead of Adrian Beltre at third base for the rest of the season, and still make the playoffs. However, at some point, reaching the playoffs just isn’t enough. The Texas franchise wants to win the World Series this year, and in order to do that, they probably need to make a move at the deadline.

The Rangers talent in the lower levels is fantastic. They have quite possibly the best prospect in baseball, Jurickson Profar, and tons of young projectable players farther down in the minors. Prospects like Ronald Guzman, Luis Sardinas, Lewis Brinson will continue to keep the Rangers in contention for years down the road. The Rangers have so many prospects with enormous potential, that even if 50% of them don’t reach their upside, they’ll still have one or two All-Star caliber players. By trading away a couple of these prospects, the Rangers will easily find other players to fill their spots. I’m not suggesting the Rangers trade Profar, but anyone else makes sense.

Mike Olt is the Rangers’ prospect, outside of Profar, with the most trade value. He’s young, close to the majors, and has a rare power/on-base combination. I wrote in-depth about Olt for MLB Reports a couple of days ago, and you can find that here. Mike Olt could probably bring the Rangers a solid top of the rotation starter, even if it’s just a rental. Olt is talented, but what we have learned in the past with how prospects don’t always become what we think they can (See Justin Smoak, Greg Golson), the Rangers shouldn’t have a problem moving him. Beltre is signed for a couple more years, and the Rangers still get decent production out of first base. If it mean they dramatically increase their chances of winning the World Series this year, Texas shouldn’t think twice about trading Mike Olt.

Predicting trades in baseball is an art perfected by nobody, and I’m not going to pretend like I know what I’m talking about. The only trade I’ve ever successfully predicted before was the Carlos Silva/Milton Bradley swap a couple of years back. So even though we can talk about what pitchers we think are available, you never know what the team actually plans on doing with them.

Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke probably top the list of pitchers that are rumored to be on the market this year. Neither of these pitchers is going to command as talented of a package as Cleveland gave up for Ubaldo Jimenez last year, but in order for their teams to trade them, they’ll need to get some outstanding prospects. Hamels, who might sign a long-term extension with Philadelphia in the coming weeks, has been one of the best starters in the National League this year. If he doesn’t come to agreements on a long-term deal with the Phillies (They are said to be offering him $130 million over six years.), he likely will be shipped before the deadline. His 3.23 ERA this year, and his impressive track record in the playoffs, make him a solid option for a Texas team seeking pitching help. To acquire Hamels, the Rangers wouldn’t have to give up Profar, but maybe Olt or others.

Zack Greinke is one of the more confusing pitchers in baseball. His battles with anxiety and depression have been documented by many, but I feel that this should not change how teams should view him as a baseball player. The argument that Greinke would not be able to perform in the humid air of Arlington is insane. Greinke is still fairly young without any serious injury history, and he’s still really, really good. Greinke would likely start the second game of the playoffs for Texas. It’s usually not good news when the player a team is trying to sign confirms that the team offered him a contract extension. The Brewers supposedly offered Greinke five years, and more than $100 million. At this point, I’d be surprised if the Brewers signed Greinke. Even if the Rangers traded for Greinke and couldn’t sign him at the end of the season, they’d still receive a draft pick as compensation. I think Greinke is the perfect fit for the Rangers’ franchise, and they should sacrifice the prospects needed in order to get him.

If the Rangers decide that neither Greinke nor Hamels fit their fancy, they are still other options out on the market. Marlins’ pitcher Josh Johnson has had somewhat of a rough season, but his 2.98 FIP suggests that part of his struggles have been due to bad luck. Johnson has never pitched in the postseason, but personally, I think that whole concept that pitchers without playoff experience is a joke. Another option for Texas could be Cliff Lee. If the Phillies do lock up Hamels, then Lee might be on the block, in order to free some of their salary cap. That is a long shot, and Lee might be too expensive for the Rangers. Ryan Dempster has drawn interest from pretty much every team in the league, but I don’t think he’s the pitcher Texas is looking for. Still, he could definitely help out their rotation.

If Texas decides that 2012 is their year to win it all, which they should, then there is no reason for them to not make a move at the deadline. You can only have so many opportunities to win the World Series, so when you do get them, it’s a good idea to take advantage of the situation. If Texas needs to trade one of their top prospects in order for them to win a World Series, they shouldn’t think twice about doing it. A top of the rotation start could push the Rangers over the hump, and send them on their way to the first ever World Series championship in Arlington.

{UPDATE: The Phillies are close to an extension with Cole Hamels. This drives up the price for Greinke, and might, might, make Cliff Lee available.}

***Today’s feature was prepared by Sam Evans, Baseball Writer.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter. (@RJA206)***


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About samevans87

I love writing, talking, watching, and playing baseball. I am a baseball writer for MLB Reports and Fish Stripes. "No game in the world is as tidy and dramatically neat as baseball, with cause and effect, crime and punishment, motive and result, so cleanly defined." -Paul Gallic

Posted on July 25, 2012, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. The Rangers have made many bad trades in the past at the trading deadline. Mr. Ryan and company really don’t like making a trade unless its a really big one (like Cliff Lee two years ago). Greinke and Hamels are not big enough in my opinion for the Rangers to take that chance. Don’t think they will look at Cliff Lee unless they get a bargain. Ryan Dempster looks good; but Rangers may not be looking at him as “the guy”. Now, if the Dodgers slip out of the race in the next couple weeks (not likely), Rangers will buy Clayton Kershaw. That’s the kind of pitcher Mr. Ryan likes. Rangers will trade, but only for somebody that’s big time nasty.

    • “Mr.Ryan and company really don’t like making a trade unless it’s a big one” ? I’m sure the Rangers would “like” making a trade that improves their team and doesn’t give up too many high-qquality prospects. I would be shocked if the Dodgers traded Kershaw in the next week. Thanks for the comment! -Sam

  2. “Even if the Rangers traded for Greinke and couldn’t sign him at the end of the season, they’d still receive a draft pick as compensation.” — No, not under the new CBA. That alone should impact how many prospects the Rangers give up for a rental pitcher. As for Cliff Lee, the Rangers would no doubt require the Phillies to pick up some of his back-loaded contract before they would accept a trade. He is not the same pitcher the Rangers had two years ago when he helped them get into the playoffs.

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