Date: July 20, 2017
Next Game: 94/162, at Baltimore Orioles
Team Record: 45-49, 4th AL West
Personal Power Ranking: 20th
Since my last publication three weeks ago, the Rangers have played at a 6-10 pace. They’d been playing even ball until their four-game losing streak. In their current series against the Baltimore Orioles, they have been outscored 25-4.
It might just be a rough series, but with the trade deadline eleven days away, it’s looking less likely that the Rangers will be in a position to buy at the deadline. So, if things are as they stand now, GM Jon Daniels and the Rangers staff will more than likely more inclined to offer their assets to contenders.
It’s tough as a fanbase to see your team raise the white flag, especially a team that just a year ago won a Division pennant in a 95-win campaign. But for the Rangers, selling might not be the worst thing.
Last year’s ‘all-in’ acquisitions Carlos Beltran and Jonathan Lucroy have left what was once considered a strong Texas farm system rather barren. It remains to be seen how New York’s Dillon Tate and Milwaukee’s Lewis Brinson turn out, but nonetheless, those trades have put the Rangers in a worse position for the future than they would be without the trade.
Beltran has moved on to the American League favorite Houston Astros, while Lucroy seems like he might be on his was out the door. A free agent at the end of the season, the Rangers could possibly receive calls on Lucroy from contenders in need of catching. The return might not be spectacular, with Lucroy’s value very low given his .254/.298/.658 slash line, low total of 4 home runs, and 0.2 batter WAR.
The two definitive assets for the Rangers are starting pitchers Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish. Darvish, a free agent at the end of the season, was selected to the American League All-Star team, and despite recent struggles, boasts a 3.45 ERA that ranks 9th in the American League. A trade for him would yield a very impressive prospect package.
As for Hamels, his trade value has never been higher. Despite missing time due to injury this season, he currently holds a 20 1/3 scoreless inning streak and looks like he could certainly contribute to an American League contender. Under team control in 2018 with a $23.5 million salary, a contender with cap space might be willing to take on his contract for a run at a championship.
It’s hard to say whether the Rangers will even sell; the 2015 AL West Champion Rangers sat at 43-49 on July 20 and went on a 44-26 run to close the season and contend in the playoffs. A turnaround is not impossible, but Tampa Bay has picked up its play, taking a tighter grip on the second Wild Card spot.
It would certainly be tough to see these two fan-favorites go, but it might be necessary. Reloading the farm system could leave the Rangers in a prime position to contend, maybe even sooner than later. Jon Daniels will certainly have a tough decision to make July 31.