Texas Rangers: 2013 trade deadline

Are Rangers better off standing pat?

July, 29, 2013
Matt Garza makes the 1-2-3 starters in the Rangers' rotation as good or better than most they would encounter in the playoffs. That is, of course, if they make it. That’s why general manager Jon Daniels was willing to part with a solid prospect package to get a guy that could be pitching for just the next few months in a Rangers uniform. He’s a rental. Perhaps he signs up long-term in Texas, but there’s no guarantee of that.

Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzimmons and Durrett to discuss the Matt Garza trade and if the Rangers are done shopping before the deadline.

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But clearly pitching isn’t this club’s biggest problem right now. They just aren’t scoring enough runs. And it’s more than simply not getting a clutch hit at a key time. The offense isn’t consistently doing the little things -- moving a runner over with a productive out, running the bases smartly, scoring a runner from third base with less than two outs -- and a lack of early runs has them feeling like they’re constantly trying to claw from behind.

Be honest: How much does one bat in an otherwise thin trade market for hitters do for this team?

If there was an absolute “wow” bat available, I’d say go and get him and take your chances. I like Alex Rios because he’s under club control past this season and can plug a spot in the outfield for more than just this year. But even Rios isn’t a huge run producer right now. His average is decent, at .270, and he would certainly help this team. But at what cost? Knowing it’s a thin market for impact bats, the White Sox are going to want a decent return for Rios from a Rangers team that already used some of its key prospects to obtain Garza. I want Rios. But the price has to be right. And I’m not sure it will be.


Do the Rangers need to trade for a bat before the deadline?


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If it was clear that Rios was the final piece to get this team to the World Series, it would be an easy decision. But I don’t believe that. Do you? No matter what Daniels does at the deadline in acquiring a hitter, the group of regulars that this team counts on for runs has to start playing better. If they don’t do that, it doesn’t matter what Daniels does.

Besides, the Rangers should keep as many of their key assets as they can for the offseason, when they could have a chance to shop at Nieman Marcus instead of Walmart. What if the Marlins decide after this season to make Giancarlo Stanton available? Suppose the Tampa Bay Rays decide the winter meetings are the perfect time to strike on dealing David Price? The Rangers have the financial resources and the prospects to make that kind of deal right now. Most organizations don’t.

That doesn’t mean you’re raising the white flag. Or that you start contemplate becoming sellers. Come on. The Rangers are still in the thick of the AL West race and the wild card. But the bottom line is the group of core players – even if it doesn’t include Nelson Cruz because of a possible suspension (and Cruz is struggling right now) – has to play up to their capabilities. Manager Ron Washington knows it. That's why he called a team meeting yesterday, noting that his team seemed to be "sleepwalking." One more bat won't solve this team's problems if they don't wake up anyway.

There’s a report out that the Rangers have internally discussed trading Joe Nathan. That doesn’t make them a seller. They’d be dangling Nathan with the idea of maybe forcing a contending team to put a hitter on the market that they maybe aren’t willing to right now. I can’t see the Rangers trading Nathan to a team they could possibly face in the AL. What about sending him to the Dodgers? Would that make sense for Andre Ethier? Maybe.

But barring a deal that doesn’t involve shipping even more critical prospect pieces away, it makes sense to me to stand pat. You’ve improved the rotation and the message you send to your club is pretty simple: It’s up to this lineup to get it going.

The reality is that’s the case anyway, deal or no deal. Save your major trade pieces for a major trade. There doesn’t appear to be one out there at the moment. Perhaps there’s one in a few months.

Trade Target: Alex Rios

July, 25, 2013
We continue our "Trade Target" series, which also includes circling back to a few folks we've talked about over the last month. With Alex Rios back in the news with the Rangers interested (and they should be), let's look at him again.

Today's target: Alex Rios

Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzimmons and Durrett to discuss the Matt Garza trade and if the Rangers are done shopping before the deadline.

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Jon Daniels has talked about the lack of impact bats on the market (he discussed it again on Fitzsimmons and Durrett on Tuesday on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM). And he's not the only one that's noted that. But Rios is one of the few. He's got a track record, is under club control for the next few years and would give the club a right-handed bat in the outfield who is putting up solid numbers.

The beauty of Rios for the Rangers would be they'd get a 32-year-old player who can patrol the outfield for the next two years. Rios isn't cheap. He's making another $6 million or so this season, $12.5 million next season and has a $13.5 million club option for 2015. He also had six teams on his no-trade list, but reports over the past few weeks indicate the Rangers weren't on that list.

This wouldn't be merely a short-term option. Nelson Cruz could be staring at a 50-game suspension at some point, though it's unclear when that might be. Either way, he's a free agent after this season. David Murphy's contract expires too. So the Rangers are going to have to deal with adding to the outfield soon. They know they should consider doing that now, if they can.

Rios is batting .278 with 12 homers and 48 RBIs. He's hitting .308 against left-handed pitchers and can play the corner outfield spots (and even center field if needed, though he's played every game this season in right field).

To get a player under club control for that long, the Rangers would have to give up prospects. But the price tag of Rios' contract should allow them to avoid giving up many of the top ones. Could guys like Wilmer Font or Luis Sardinas be in the conversation? Probably. And some others. We'll see what kind of package it would take, but it might not be as costly as you think because of Rios' salary.

Rios would make this lineup better, which is why the Rangers are talking about it. He's not a huge name, but he would help this team now and in the future.

What are you giving up to get him?

Trade target: Hunter Pence

July, 23, 2013
We continue our series looking at possible trade targets for the Rangers today by looking at a bat.

Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzimmons and Durrett to discuss the Matt Garza trade and if the Rangers are done shopping before the deadline.

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Today's target: Hunter Pence

With Matt Garza flying to Texas to join the club for workouts Tuesday and slated to pitch Wednesday, the Rangers can turn their attention to a bat. There were two big items on GM Jon Daniels' trade deadline shopping list: a starting pitcher and a right-handed bat. He's got the first part, but he is still working on that second part.

So what about Pence? He was born in Fort Worth and went to UTA, so he's certainly comfortable in the area. The 30-year-old, right-handed hitter is batting .263 with 14 homers and 49 RBIs for the San Francisco Giants this season. He's hitting .316 against left-handed pitchers in 95 at-bats with a .942 OPS. That would certainly look good on this club.

Pence is making $13.8 million this season and is a free agent after it's over. He'd be another true rental. But he would provide a bat for the club and someone who can play the corner outfield spots. He's played the entire season in right field for the Giants, by the way.

At this point, the Giants haven't indicated they've made Pence available. They are 5 1/2 back in the NL West and aren't ready to concede anything yet. We'll see if that changes.

Trade target: Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez

July, 22, 2013
We are continuing our trade deadline series on the blog, titled "Trade Targets," which looks at some possible deadline acquisitions for the Texas Rangers and why they might or might not make sense for the club.

Today's target: Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez

OK. I get it. Gonzalez isn't technically a trade target. He's a free agent available right now -- apparently, he's ready to sign with a club this week, according to his agent -- for a team looking for a starting pitcher. Many scouts rave about Gonzalez with one telling me he's mid-90s on his fastball, can touch 96 mph and has a nice assortment of pitches, including a splitter to go along with a cutter/slider and changeup. This isn't a project. He might need one or two minor league starts, according to reports, and he'd be ready to go. MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez said in a recent story that scouts believe his addition would be "similar to acquiring a top pitcher" before the deadline.

He's 26 and could help the Rangers' rotation now and in the future. Some reports indicate it could cost as much as $60 million over five years. The Rangers have interest, but whether that extends to being able to outbid a gaggle of teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, remains to be seen.

If you're curious of Gonzalez's back story, here's part of Sanchez's story on him:
Gonzalez fled Cuba earlier this year, landed in El Salvador and worked out for a month in Mexico City before making his way to Tijuana. He began throwing full bullpen sessions in front of scouts twice each week this spring and later starred in a series of showcases with the Tijuana Toros.

He was granted free agency last month and secured an unblocking license from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which allows him to sign with a Major League team, on Monday.

The appeal of it, from my standpoint, is that the club could add a starting pitcher without giving up any prospects. But it is a big-time financial commitment and there's plenty of competition to get him.

Would you take the chance, even if that means $60 million?

Trade Target: Yovani Gallardo

July, 19, 2013
This is the latest in a series of blogs looking at possible trade options for the Texas Rangers before the trade deadline.

Today's target: Yovani Gallardo

As we've talked about, the starting pitching market is thin as the deadline gets closer. One name that could be out there who isn't at the level of a Matt Garza or Cliff Lee is Gallardo.

The 27-year-old right-hander is in the middle of his worst season as a professional. He's 7-8 with a 4.83 ERA in 20 starts. He has strikeout rate around 18 percent, which is the worst of his carer. The velocity on his fastball has dropped nearly two mph from 2011, according to Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com.

But he's only a half season removed from going 16-9 with a 3.66 ERA in 204 innings. He has an ERA just barely over 2.00 in four postseason appearances. Would a change of scenery help? Could he experience a return to form under pitching coach Mike Maddux? Perhaps. It's a risk. He's owed $11.25 million next season with a club option for 2015. So if he does turn it around, he's not a rental. If he doesn't, that's a decent chunk of change tied up in a struggling pitcher.

Does Gallardo constitute a huge upgrade? Not if he pitches like he has in July (1-1, 9.00 ERA). But what if you get the guy that sported a 2.32 ERA in six June starts, including three quality starts?

Any interest in Gallardo? Or is he not good enough for the Rangers to consider at this point?

Trade Targets: Raul Ibanez, Kendrys Morales

July, 17, 2013
Here's more from our Trade Target series, where we look at some names that could be available at the deadline and determine how much sense they may make to the Texas Rangers.

Today's targets: Raul Ibanez, Kendrys Morales

The Seattle Mariners could once again be in sell mode as the deadline approaches. If they do make that decision -- Seattle enters the second half 13 games back in the AL West and 11 back in the wild card -- perhaps they'll shop the 41-year-old Ibanez and 30-year-old Morales.

Ibanez has turned back the clock this season. He's got 24 homers and 56 RBIs in 277 at-bats with a .267 average so far. He's a left-handed bat -- the Rangers could use more right-handed bats -- but he'd give manager Ron Washington at least another option in the outfield. And with his contract expiring after this season, it wouldn't likely cost much to get Ibanez, who's making $2.75 million in base salary and could hit another $1.25 million in incentives.

To me, Morales is more appealing. He's a switch-hitting first baseman and DH. With Lance Berkman on the disabled list and his health a concern, Morales would give this team another DH option. He doesn't have the power numbers of Ibanez, but he's hitting .280 with 14 homers and 54 RBIs. He's played in 90 games so far this season, by the way. Morales will also become a free agent after this season and is making $5.25 million in 2013.

Up until now, Seattle has reportedly been slow to commit to become a seller, but that could certainly change as the days get closer to July 31.

Any interest in Morales or Ibanez? They aren't big names, but could be rental players that wouldn't require a huge commitment in prospects from the Rangers.

Trade targets: Chris Sale, Jake Peavy

July, 16, 2013
With less than two weeks until MLB's trade deadline, we'll take a look in the coming days and weeks at some names that could be available between now and the deadline, then debate whether those names make sense for the Texas Rangers.

Ron Washington joins ESPN Dallas GameDay to discuss Manny Ramirez and the Rangers at the All-Star break.

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Today's trade targets: Chris Sale and Jake Peavy

We have to start this writeup, one that was requested via email and Twitter, with a note of caution: It's not as though the White Sox are actively shopping Sale. This isn't a Matt Garza situation. There are a bunch of reasons that Sale is different, starting with his contract.

Sale, 24, was in New York for the All-Star Game festivities this week. It was his second All-Star Game and he entered the Big Apple with the fifth-best ERA mark in the AL (2.85) and fifth in strikeouts (131). He signed a five-year extension prior to this season that pays him $850,000 this year, $3.5 million in 2014, $6 million in 2015, $9.15 million in 2016 and $12 million in 2017. The deal includes two club option years (2018 and 2019) for a total of $26 million (that could be higher based on certain incentives) if both are executed by the club.

So this is far from a rental. Again, the biggest question is whether White Sox general manager Rick Hahn wants to make him available. It would take a huge haul to get him and you can bet Jurickson Profar would be part of any of those discussions if the Rangers had a chance to get him. But it would be a chance for the White Sox to load up on minor league -- and even some major league -- talent if they did dangle Sale.

The starting pitching market is thin, as we've discussed. Putting Sale into that mix could pay huge dividends for the White Sox. At his age and what he has done in his career so far, he should be extremely appealing to the Rangers. Imagine him sitting with Yu Darvish on top of this rotation for years to come. Not only is that an enviable playoff rotation this season, but it sets up well for the long haul for Texas.

In nearly every situation, the Rangers would prefer to get a player with long-term potential and control if they sacrifice a huge chunk of prospects. Sale is one of those guys. The question, again, is whether he'll be available.

Peavy is a bit different. He isn't Sale, but he has got a track record and, when healthy, would improve the Rangers' rotation. According to various reports, he's slated to go back into the White Sox's rotation on Saturday. Assuming he shows he's healthy and can produce, he could be an interesting option for clubs, especially if Sale isn't available. If I'm running the Rangers, I'm interested in Peavy too. And I wonder if there might be a way to put a prospect package together, headlined by Mike Olt, to get both Peavy and Alex Rios. If you're thinking Sale and Rios together, that's the kind of thing that you'd have to bring Profar into the discussions about. It's all speculation at this point, but it's fun to talk about.

Would you give up a package fronted by Profar (and including a few pitching prospects and probably a bat like Mike Olt's or Joey Gallo's) to get Sale? Would the White Sox even do that? Let me ask it another way: Would you rather give up that package for Sale or Giancarlo Stanton? Do you like Peavy?

Trade target: Alex Rios

July, 15, 2013
With less than two weeks until MLB's trade deadline, we'll take a look on the blog in the coming days and weeks at some names that could be available between now and the deadline and debate whether those names make sense for the Texas Rangers.

Nolan Ryan joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the Rangers at the All-Star break and the possibility of Manny Ramirez being called up in the second half of the season.

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Today's trade target: Alex Rios

One of the Rangers' needs is a right-handed bat. Lance Berkman is on the disabled list and struggled in the weeks leading up to his arrival there. Jeff Baker is rehabbing with Double-A Frisco and could join the Rangers right after the All-Star break. His return should help with the club's right-handed bat needs, but that doesn't change the club's wish list to get an impact bat at the deadline.

Among the possible candidates is Rios. The Rangers have reportedly been scouting the Chicago White Sox and Rios is a player they've certainly kept an eye on. Rios is hitting .270 with 11 homers and 40 RBIs. He's also got 19 stolen bases. Against left-handed pitchers, Rios is hitting .294. He's hit in the 3-hole for most of the season.

Rios struggled for parts of June but has bounced back early in July. He'd give the Rangers a quality bat in the outfield that can play in the corners, allowing them to add some offense to the lineup.

The question, as usual, will be cost. Rios is 32 years old and is not a rental player. But he doesn't come cheap, either. He's due to make another $6 million or so this season, $12.5 million next season and there's a $13.5 million club option for 2015. The fact that he's not a rental and has a contract that allows the Rangers some flexibility after 2014 has to be appealing. And he has six teams on his no-trade list, but that does not include Texas (according to this Mark Gonzales report). So Rios is certainly intriguing. Under GM Jon Daniels, the Rangers have preferred making trades for players with more than three months left on their contract (Cliff Lee is the biggest notable exception, though back in 2010 the Rangers at least got compensatory picks when he left).

But because we're talking about a longer contract, the price in prospects could be higher. Of course, the level of prospects might also be based on whether the Rangers absorb the entire contract. Could names like Mike Olt, Joey Gallo, Justin Grimm, Nick Tepesch, Neil Ramirez and even Martin Perez be floated about in this kind of scenario? Sure. Don't be surprised to see middle infielder Luis Sardinas involved, either. But the combination of those players and how it all lines up could determine whether this makes sense for either team.


Who has been the Rangers' best performer in the first half?


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Rios has my interest, mainly because after the 2013 season the Rangers have questions in the outfield. Nelson Cruz's contract expires. David Murphy hasn't proven that he can handle an everyday job and his contract is up. So the club is going to need him out there, and Rios would be an option for 2014.

I'd part with a pitching prospect or two and would consider Olt or Gallo because Rios is under club control through 2015. But the price of the contract makes me wonder if the Rangers could obtain him without an Olt or Gallo in the deal. I guess we'll see. The White Sox are in a good position. They can wait it out until they get the largest package they can. But if getting Rios means including one of the top hitting prospects in the deal, I'd do it because Rios could be a Ranger through 2015, if the club chooses.

Do you agree? Do you like Rios' bat as a trade deadline pickup and someone in the outfield next season? What would you give up to get him?

Trade target: Matt Garza

July, 15, 2013
With less than two weeks until MLB's trade deadline, we'll take a look on the blog in the coming days and weeks at some names that could be available between now and the deadline and debate whether those names make sense for the Texas Rangers.

Eric Nadel joins Galloway and Company for his weekly visit to discuss the latest Rangers news.

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Today's trade target: Matt Garza

There's little question as to whether or not the Rangers need a starter. They do. Sure, you can hope that everybody currently on the disabled list returns on schedule, but how likely is that? And does it really matter? I could argue the Rangers need a starter even if everybody returns fully healthy and productive. The club's disabled list rotation is impressive when you consider Yu Darvish, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando and Nick Tepesch are on that list. Justin Grimm isn't on the DL, but he left Friday's start with right forearm tightness.

The bottom line: The Rangers need some more depth at that spot, especially when you start trying to put together a playoff rotation. Another top-half-of-the-rotation starter would be huge for this club.

Garza fits that bill. He's 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA with 62 strikeouts and 20 walks in 11 starts. In Garza's past six starts, he's got a 1.24 ERA. His last start a few days ago (probably his last in a Cubs uniform) was 6⅔ innings against St. Louis, in which he gave up two runs. He's pitched well against the A's in Oakland and the White Sox, giving up a total of four runs in 21 1/2 innings in those last three starts. He's shown that he's healthy and productive. He's got the numbers to slide in as the No. 2 starter in this rotation behind Darvish and help give this club a boost, but at what cost?

Garza, 29, is a free agent at the end of the 2013 season. That means any team that trades for him will not get a compensatory draft pick if he signs somewhere else (that's part of the new CBA). So we are talking about a pure rental here, assuming Garza doesn't sign long term with Texas. He'll be owed a little less than $5 million for the rest of the season. The Baltimore Sun reported that, last offseason, with one year left on his deal, Garza drew interest from the Orioles. The Cubs asked for two of Baltimore's top five prospects (as ranked by Baseball America, and both players were also in ESPN.com's Keith Law's top-100 list this offseason).

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Adrian Beltre
.324 19 77 79
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
WC. Lewis 10
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182