It seems that every Trade Deadline or Off Season, a reminder must go out to fans about trades – in order to get something, you must give something up. In the same vein, trading is a two-way street, meaning both parties have to be willing dance partners for a deal. “Why doesn’t JD just go get Mike Trout/Clayton Kershaw/etc.?” This is a legitimate question, in that it has proper sentence structure and ends with a question mark. Beyond that, there’s a little bit more to consider.
We’ll get the most difficult argument out of the way first. Jon Daniels and the Texas Rangers front office are under zero obligation to execute a fire sale for the 2017 season. Yes, parts of the team are old and there are several free agents coming up once the World Series ends.
No, the farm isn’t nearly what it once was (more on that later). But a core of Rougned Odor (23), Joey Gallo (23), Nomar Mazara (22), Delino DeShields (24) and Elvis Andrus (28) still has some legs to make a competitive lineup.
Robinson Chirinos may be on the older side of things, but the coming promise of Brett Nicholas and Jose Trevino gives some length to the catcher lifeline.
The rotation, at least for the next few years, is going to need to be a mix of youth and experience, but then again, aren’t all decent rotations?
The bullpen, as most bullpens are, are going to be fickle and finicky and built within a season. The Rangers’ bullpen, by the way, still features a lot of controllable pieces in Keone Kela, Jose LeClerc, Matt Bush and Jeremy Jeffress, plus most of the near-MLB-ready arms in the Texas farm are projected bullpen arms.
While the winter lends itself to a completely different strategy than the Trade Deadline, Jon Daniels still has a team to build around and doesn’t have to start from the ground up – yet.
Not previously mentioned was Adrian Beltre. Virtually an ageless wonder, Beltre, at 38 years old, is still contributing 1.7 WAR for this season, is getting on base at a .379 clip and still guards the hot corner with the unwavering steadfastness of a Royal Palace guard.
While most of the Texas Rangers social media universe claims that, “Beltre needs to be traded so he has a shot at a ring,” this isn’t Adrian Beltre’s last year playing. On top of the guaranteed 2018 year in his contract, Beltre, since coming back from the disabled list, doesn’t exactly look like he’s slowing down.
In short, 2017 isn’t Adrian Beltre’s final chance of his career to get a World Series ring. It may be his last shot as a full-time, both sides of the ball player, but even then, Adrian Beltre seems to defy biology and sports science. On top of that, Jon Daniels’ commitment to Adrian Beltre when he signed this last contract was that he would always do his best to field a competitive team. The 2017 team hasn’t played up to expectations, but the potential exists for it to still be competitive.
Speaking of not playing up to expectations, this incarnation of the Rangers presents a bit of a Catch-22 for Daniels. No, nobody’s going to catch the Astros in the division, but as far as competition, there are seven other teams in the American League that have a pretty decent shot at ending up in the Wild Card spot. As such, that’s seven other teams that could classify themselves as buyers in the next week and a half.
That’s seven other teams that aren’t going to do business with you for two reasons. First, those teams may not want to do their part in helping you gain a competitive advantage, but secondly…your guys aren’t doing enough to warrant acquiring.
Yes, while the Rangers are a mere 3.5 games out of a Wild Card spot, it seems, at times that they’re in that position despite themselves. Besides Yu Darvish, the primary trade candidates – Jonathan Lucroy, Mike Napoli, Carlos Gomez, Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, and practically your entire bullpen (minus Alex Claudio and Jose Leclerc) – haven’t done much to inspire teams to say, “Yeah, I have to have THAT guy.”
Therein lies the problem: should JD be trying to get rid of as many pieces as possible to rebuild the farm and restock for the future? Probably. Yes, that would be a smart business decision. But at this point, do some calculations and try to figure out what value those pieces are going to net you.
How much is Jonathan Lucroy, a catcher on the wrong side of 30, who has vastly declined and been a severe disappointment both offensively and defensively, going to get you?
How much is Mike Napoli, who might be catching up to Joey Gallo in the home run column, but is also catching up to him in the strikeout column while barely clearing the Mendoza line, going to get you?
How about Carlos Gomez, who is playing decently enough, but is also a relatively expensive two-month rental? If you want a top of the line return for any of these players, the belief has to exist on the other team that these players could be a season-changing acquisition.
To further that last point – JD wants top of the line return for those guys. And why shouldn’t he? No, his guys haven’t performed up to expectation, but his job is to convince other GMs that those players can fulfill that potential somewhere else. The point is, JD isn’t going to just sell for the sake of selling. You can bet he wants to bring the farm system (A.K.A. personified currency) back to prominence just as much as Rangers fans do.
To that end, he can, and probably has, asked those other teams for what he thinks his guys are worth. Other GMs have also probably shot their shot and offered players for JD’s guys. Again, it’s a two-way street – JD has every right to say, “That’s not a good enough return,” just as other GMs have every right to say, “You’re asking for too much.”
There’s also a full week until the non-waiver trade deadline. There’s a full month after this week for waiver wire trades to be made. Jon Daniels is renowned for having a great poker face around deals like the ones the Rangers are rumored to be making (rumors, man). Just because the Cubs, Yankees and Diamondbacks have finished their fireworks show doesn’t mean that JD’s being lazy. Daniels is Maverick after Goose died and will fire when he is (expletive) good and ready.
Just keep in mind that if YOUR perception of the Rangers is, “They’re not good,” then what are other teams’ perceptions? Would YOU trade for what the Rangers have?
What kind of return do you anticipate the Rangers asking for for Yu Darvish? Share your trade thoughts with Matt on Twitter @FisherWritesMLB.