Texas Rangers rumors: The Milwaukee Brewers are among the teams heavily scouting the Rangers, writes Ken Rosenthal, who says there were 18 scouts for a complex league game involving the Rangers at Surprise Stadium recently -- a number that Rosenthal indicates is remarkably high. Rosenthal's source says "the Brewers had multiple scouts watching the Texas youngsters," which leads Rosenthal to speculate that the Rangers and Brewers could start up Jonathan Lucroy trade talks again.
While a Lucroy trade is certainly possible, and Lucroy is having a terrific season -- he's hitting .304/.361/.491, and has a strong reputation as a game-caller and pitch-framer -- I continue to have my doubts that the Rangers are going to pay a premium in terms of prospects to acquire a catcher who is 30 years old and will be a free agent after 2017. The Robinson Chirinos/Bobby Wilson tandem isn't great, but it is serviceable, and acquiring Lucroy just wouldn't seem like it would be a huge upgrade, unless they feel Lucroy's framing skills are so superior that it will make a significant difference in the number of called strikes the pitchers get.
It seems more likely that the Brewers and Rangers would match up on a potential pitching trade...Tyler Thornburg, for example, is a small righthanded reliever who throws in the low-90s and brings to mind (to me, anyway) Jason Frasor. Thornburg has upped his K rate significantly this year, and has a 2.57 ERA and a 3.40 FIP. The 27 year old seems like the type of bullpen depth the Rangers would potentially target as a useful piece, controllable beyond this year (he isn't free agent eligible until after 2019) and not the type of reliever who is going to command a huge prospect price. Thornburg could help fortify the middle relief spot that has, outside of Tony Barnette, been so problematic for the Rangers this year.
One other name that I'm simply pulling out of thin air, that I have no idea if the Rangers have any interest in, but which is a name that jumps out at me in looking at the Brewers pitching staff: Junior Guerra. Guerra is a 31 year old righthander from Venezuela who, other than 4 innings for the ChiSox last season, had no major league experience before May, 2016. However, the Brewers called him up from the minors on May 3, and he's had success, putting up a 3.06 ERA and a 3.87 FIP in 82.1 IP, with 72 Ks against just 26 walks. Fangraphs has his fastball averaging 93 mph, and says he has a split finger and a slider to go with it.
Carson Cistulli wrote up Guerra in April, prior to his callup with the Brewers, as one of the "Fringe Five" prospects of interest, and praising his work in the minors last year, calling him a "revelation" after the ChiSox signed him out of the Italian League prior to the 2015 season. The Brewers claimed him on waivers in October from Chicago, and its been a very successful claim for them so far.
Last year, the Rangers went out and plucked Sam Dyson out of obscurity, as well as Jake Diekman out of somewhat lesser obscurity, and the two have been key pieces for the Rangers ever since. If you want to consider who might be this year's version of Sam Dyson, a guy the Rangers identify and acquire at the deadline for minor pieces who could have a big impact, Thornburg and Guerra would be names to keep in mind.