By Evan Grant , Staff Writer
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Another Rangers pitcher failed to make it through six innings. Another big lead melted into nothingness.
And the club drew one day closer to the trading deadline without any reinforcements.
For fans, there appears to be a full-scale panic over a season that has taken an ugly detour over the past three weeks. For management, there is an ongoing poker game that is likely to last up until the final moments of the non-waiver trade period on Aug. 1 and very possibly may extend into August, when waivers must first be cleared before a deal can be consummated.
So, what’s it all mean? Where do the Rangers stand?
“We’ve had chances, opportunities to make deals,” is the way GM Jon Daniels put it on the Ben & Skin Show on 105.3 KRLD-FM Monday. “We’ve had offers put to us, we’ve put offers to teams. That’s the nature of this time of year — go back and forth until you find the right fit.”
In other words: If the object was to make a trade, the Rangers have had chances; if the object is to make a prudent trade, not so much.
And you know what is shocking about all of this? Absolutely nothing.
After conversations with a number of major league sources over the last couple of days, let’s try to walk you through exactly where the Rangers are and what the situation is.
There is no Cole Hamels-caliber pitcher clearly available: Hamels was a clear top-of-the-rotation pitcher — controllable for multiple years — and the Phillies were a clear seller. The teams were well into nuanced conversations at this point. And it still took until July 29 to agree on names and July 31 to complete the deal.
Teams want either Joey Gallo or Jurickson Profar: In virtually every conversation the Rangers have had for any serviceable pitcher, the club has been asked for one or the other. The Rangers have been asked about other players as well, but their names are Rougned Odor and Nomar Mazara, and they are even more untouchable than Gallo or Profar. The Rangers must decide if they are willing to part with either Gallo or Profar in order to acquire a pitcher.
The Rangers have scouted Tampa Bay heavily: Jake Odorizzi and Matt Moore are both controllable and serviceable, and last-place Tampa Bay is a clear seller. Senior Director of Player Personnel Josh Boyd was among those to see both pitch last week. That’s significant. Boyd is part of the inner circle of Rangers decision-makers.
Here’s where things seem to be with Tampa Bay: The perception of Gallo or Profar for Odorizzi or Moore appears to be something of an overpay. The Rangers would probably rather use somebody like Lewis Brinson to headline that deal. Or they’d like Tampa Bay to discuss Chris Archer. This is trade negotiation. At some point, one of the two budges and a deal gets made or it doesn’t.
The Rangers are scouting the New York Yankees: As the Yankees inch closer to selling, the Rangers are looking at Ivan Nova, Nathan Eovaldi and even CC Sabathia. Perhaps the Yankees would be willing to go to the second tier of prospects to get a deal done. And, yes, the Rangers are watching reliever Andrew Miller, as well.
The Rangers are waiting on more teams to become sellers: Of particular interest might be the Chicago White Sox. If the Rangers are going to include Gallo or Profar in a deal, then the single most attractive and conceivably available pitcher would be Chris Sale. At this point, he’s not available and the White Sox are still on the fringes of the AL Wild Card race. However, the White Sox have lost five straight, have two more games on the road and then have eight games against Detroit and the Chicago Cubs leading up to the deadline. They could become a seller and even if they aren’t willing to talk about Sale, there might be conversations to be had over left-hander Jose Quintana.
The 27-year-old is signed through 2018 with club options for 2019 and 2020. He was an All-Star this year, has three consecutive 200-inning seasons and is currently working on a career-best WHIP while averaging eight strikeouts and just two walks per nine innings.
If the Rangers are faced with having to part with either Gallo or Profar, they are going to try to enlarge their trade options: They will spend the next 10 days aiming high. Sale. Archer. Sonny Gray. If they are convinced they have to part with one of them, they are going to see if they can’t get into the true upper tier of pitchers.
And here’s the thing: If you sat down on April 1 and said the Rangers are going to need pitching around the deadline — and many thought they would — you would have identified Archer, Gray and Sale as the three most potentially attractive guys who might realistically be on the market, given their respective clubs’ outlook for 2016. And you would have said the Rangers would probably have to part with either Gallo or Mazara to headline a package to get one of them. You couldn’t have been sure of Profar’s place in that pecking order.