Texas Rangers rumors: Starting pitching is a priority for the Rangers this offseason, but while there has been talk about the Rangers pursuing a Chris Sale or a Chris Archer, Ken Rosenthal writes that the Rangers aren’t expected to target the prominent high-end pitching options, either in the trade market or in free agency.
Rosenthal says that, with the team having dealt away a significant chunk of their minor league system in the deals that brought Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman, Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress to Texas, the organization is more “protective” of its remaining prospects, meaning that they aren’t likely to part with the talent necessary to land, for example, one of the Rays pitchers that is being shopped.
Though Rosenthal doesn’t come out and say it, the other problem is that the Rangers’ system lacks the high-end talent necessary to get such a player. The top prospect in the Rangers’ system right now is probably either Yohander Mendez or Leody Taveras. The 2015 draft class has disappointed -- Dillon Tate struggled badly and is now gone, Eric Jenkins had a rough introduction to full season ball in 2016, and Mike Matuella and Jake Lemoine have combined to pitch in one pro game — and while there are a lot of intriguing players in the system, there’s a lack of high-value pieces that would front a trade for a big time pitcher.
Meanwhile, no-longer-qualifying-as-prospects Jurickson Profar and Joey Gallo have trade value, but appear to be more valued by the Rangers than by other clubs. Realistically, a trade for the type of pitcher fans are clamoring for would likely have to be fronted by either Nomar Mazara or Rougned Odor, and the team doesn’t appear interested in moving either.
There’s an argument to be made that, with Yu Darvish and Jonathan Lucroy in their walk years, and Cole Hamels and Adrian Beltre getting up in age, the Rangers should go all-in this year, move Gallo and Profar and other prospects for a top-end starting pitcher, and then rebuild after 2017, spending 2018 and 2019 re-trenching with an eye towards competing again when the new stadium opens in 2020. That, however, goes against what Jon Daniels has strived for -- a team that is a consistent winner, that maintains success. From 2010-16, the Rangers have done that, with the exception of the bizarre 2014 season, and I doubt they’re looking to change course now.
So Rosenthal’s report makes sense, but if it is true, it will likely result in the Rangers’ eventual move for a starting pitcher being seen as a letdown by a lot of fans and media.