Time to keep prospects, check trade market
May, 23, 2014
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com
DETROIT -- If you're expecting general manager Jon Daniels to come out and signal that the 2014 season is over, you're going to be waiting awhile. He can't do that. It's not fair to the group of players in the clubhouse who, frankly, should be commended for even being one game under .500 after what's happened on the injury front this season.
But Daniels and his staff have preached for years that they work under parallel plans: A one- or two-year plan and a five-year plan. The idea is to make deals that, as often as possible, satisfy both blueprints. That's what the offseason trade of Prince Fielder and the seven-year contract of Shin-Soo Choo were designed to do. Fielder gave them a power bat in the middle of the lineup and allowed them to insert Jurickson Profar at second base. Choo provided a leadoff hitter, who could sit there -- or at other spots in the order -- for years to come as an on-base machine. Those deals were supposed to help this team push for a World Series title in 2014 and beyond.
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesKendrys Morales could be an affordable replacement for Prince Fielder in the Rangers lineup.
Now, it's that long-term plan that Daniels must focus on. That means resisting the temptation to do a whole lot in the wake of the Fielder news. The Rangers could certainly look at Kendrys Morales. And as Keith Law points out (Insider), they may have all the leverage for a player whom few teams need at this point. If they wait until after the draft, does it cost them $3 million? That's not a steep price to pay for a bat in the lineup for the rest of the season (and waiting until after the draft is a must so that it doesn't cost them any compensation).
But unless it's that sales-rack deal, I'm not sure the Rangers should do anything else to fill that spot. The club's best prospects are at the lower levels and are slowly, but confidently, making their way toward the big leagues. Joey Gallo's power has everyone's attention at Class A Myrtle Beach. Luke Jackson is continuing to progress at Double-A Frisco. Luis Sardinas and Rougned Odor are getting some valuable time in the majors and could help this team down the road. So should Michael Choice and a host of others.
It gives the Rangers some options at the trade deadline to make the club better in the future. We know that Daniels and his staff hate closing doors. So if someone calls asking about Adrian Beltre or Elvis Andrus -- or nearly anyone not named Yu Darvish -- they're going to listen. They should listen. You never know what might come of it.
But don't expect them to start dealing prospects to try to add a piece here and there for just 2014 or even 2015. After the Matt Garza deal, something Daniels has referenced several times as a learning experience, they aren't going to part with a prospect package to get a semi-rental player. This team is more than one or two pieces away anyway. And the front office knows it.
It may not be time to fold 'em, but it's time to hold 'em. This team still has the ingredients to jump right back into contention next season should Fielder return 100 percent and Profar be fully ready to go, as well. They'll need to increase their pitching depth, but that's something Daniels & Co. can do either at trade deadline or in the offseason. Then that winning window has a chance to open again.