A minor deal went down this morning, as the Tigers acquired Astros closer Jose Veras in exchange for minor league outfielder Danry Vasquez and a player to be named later.
As we talked about this weekend, the Rangers apparently are willing to part with closer Joe Nathan in the right deal, and some of the national writers on Twitter were saying that Texas and Detroit had had discussions about a potential Nathan-to-Detroit deal.
This trade, however, lessens the need for Detroit to get a bullpen arm, though it apparently doesn't eliminate it:
Tigers are still open to adding another reliever, but have felt the price for Gregerson was prohibitive.— Danny Knobler (@DannyKnoblerCBS) July 29, 2013
That said, the Rangers aren't going to part with Nathan unless they get a substantial return, and the Tigers don't appear to be a fit at this point.
Coming off a sweep by Cleveland and six games back of Oakland in the AL West, the Rangers are exploring any number of options to get better, and so a possible Nathan deal makes sense. At the same time, sources told Yahoo! Sports the Rangers are strongly considering standing pat with their current team and hoping the issues that have manifested themselves – mediocre fielding, mediocre offense and miserable baserunning – can work themselves out.
The Rangers find themselves in deep trouble at this point. BP has their odds of making the playoffs at 40% -- as low as they've been all season -- and their odds of winning the division at less than 20%. Texas is currently six games back of the A's in the A.L. West, and while the schedule is more favorable for the Rangers down the stretch, and they have a lot of head-to-head games with Oakland where they can gain some ground, its still very hard to make up six games in a 57 game stretch.
So the Rangers are likely vying for a spot in the Wild Card play-in game...but even there, they are trailing not just the Orioles, but also the Indians. Texas currently has an uphill battle just to get to where they are in position to go on the road to either Tampa or Boston and play a game to get into the "real" playoffs.
Meanwhile, the bats on the market aren't inspiring. The Mariners apparently aren't motivated to move Kendrys Morales or Mike Morse, Paul Konerko is playing poorly, Justin Morneau is playing poorly, and the price for Alex Rios is apparently steep. The Rangers appear to be taking a "go big or go home" strategy at the deadline -- either get a game changer, like Bautista or Giancarlo Stanton, or do nothing and hope that the players in place can right the ship.
There's something to be said for neither buying nor selling. After four straight seasons of being in the playoff hunt, including making the playoffs the past three years, there are certain expectations that have developed. From a business standpoint, I don't think the organization wants to send a message to the fans that they've given up on the season, and thus is going to be reluctant to deal Matt Garza, Nelson Cruz, A.J. Pierzynski, or (possibly) Joe Nathan, although they can possibly sell the idea of Nathan as being superfluous, given the depth of the bullpen. Being a seller means less attendance, fewer ticket sales this winter, and less revenue.
There's also the reality that, as bad as things seem, this team is still in a playoff race. I'm not sure that the front office wants to send a message to the players in the clubhouse that the suits don't believe in them, don't think they are capable of making up the distance and getting into the postseason.
And the thing is, I think this is a team that is very well equipped to do some damage in the postseason. You've got a loaded rotation -- especially if Matt Harrison comes back healthy -- and, even without Nathan, a stacked bullpen that would also likely include Alexi Ogando and Neftali Feliz. Stellar starting pitching, a strong back of the bullpen, and just enough offense to squeak out some wins has been a successful formula in the postseason before, and if the Rangers can just make it to October, they're going to be a team no one is going to want to have to play.
But getting to October, with this slumping offense, is the key. The Rangers have no real DH at this point, with the Lance Berkman experiment having failed. They are in danger of losing Nelson Cruz to a suspension, which would give the Rangers an outfield consisting of a David Murphy/Jeff Baker platoon, an Engel Beltre/Craig Gentry platoon, and Leonys Martin. The Ranger offense is not as bad as it has looked the last couple of weeks, but if the offense doesn't start playing better real quick like, its going to end up being moot.
So it will be interesting to see how things play out over the next couple of days. Things can change quickly. But at this point, I wouldn't count on Texas making a move to get a significant bat in here. If the Rangers offense is going to improve, its likely going to have to come from the guys already here.