MLB Trade Rumors: Mike Minor, Hunter Pence, Shawn Kelley and Asdrubal Cabrera are among the veterans that the Texas Rangers could move in the next week-plus, according to Jim Bowden, who says that Chris Woodward had a team meeting before the second half started to say that if they played well in the second half of July, the team would be buyers, but if they didn’t, the Rangers would likely be selling.
It makes sense for Woodward to address the issue with the team, given that buy-or-sell talk is swirling and he’s emphasizing communications with the players, and Woodward reportedly is planning on talking to individual players whose names have come up in trade talks. That being said, with the Rangers having lost their last four in a row after winning their first two games post-break against Houston, and with a grueling road trip coming up, its not unreasonable to think the players may be seeing the writing on the wall, barring a sudden hot stretch.
Dan Szymborski writes today at Fangraphs that the Rangers’ playoff chances are so slim, even if they were to be buyers, that the team should be looking to move Mike Minor for a quality package — especially since their window is just starting to open, rather than close. Jon Morosi says the Atlanta Braves are “open” to bringing Minor, who was originally drafted by the Braves, back to where his career started, and as we discussed yesterday, Atlanta seems like the ideal match for the Rangers, given Atlanta has a deep farm system with a lot of top end talent.
With Pence, one can argue that his presence and influence in the clubhouse makes him more valuable for the Rangers than whatever fringe prospect you would expect to get from him, but dealing Pence would open up a starting spot at DH or left field for Willie Calhoun, and the intangible aspects Pence brings to the table would seem to enhance what you could get for him via a trade. Two months of a guy who is a quality bat as well as an 80 makeup person could bring back more in a deal than one would think, particularly given Pence is making very little in salary.
As has been discussed at length before, the elimination of post-July 31 waiver deals means that guys like Pence, Cabrera and Kelley — who might be held on to into August in previous years with the belief they’d likely clear waivers and be able to be dealt closer to September — will have to have calls made on them sooner rather than later. Kelley has an affordable 2020 team option, which means Texas doesn’t have to deal him, but that also means that he’s not necessarily purely a rental and thus may fetch more in return.
And thus we wait, and try to read the tea leaves. Texas has had a surprisingly good first half of the 2019 season, and this has been an entertaining run. But it looks like we are about to see the team shift into sell mode, and use the final two months to evaluate players who may be part of the future, even if they aren’t the best options to help the team win right now.