MLB Trade Rumors: Lance Lynn, the Texas Rangers starting pitcher who has been one of the best pitchers in baseball since the start of the 2019 season (his 8.1 fWAR is tied with Jacob deGrom for second in the majors among pitchers in that period, behind Gerrit Cole’s 8.2 fWAR; only Shane Bieber and Max Scherzer are even above 7.0), would seem to be an enticing trade target for teams like the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox and Atlanta Braves, who are playoff contenders (unlike the Rangers) in 2020 and who could use rotation reinforcements.
According to Ken Rosenthal, however, while the Rangers are “entertaining trade offers” for their #1 starter, it is uncertain what he would bring, and whether Texas will end up pulling the trigger on a deal. With the trade deadline just five days away, the Rangers have the best starting pitcher on the market, but the uncertainty surrounding MLB in the COVID-19 era has what sort of return they might get for him up in the air.
And as Rosenthal notes, the Rangers have incentives to keep Lynn, noting that “[c]lub officials rave about his competitiveness, accountability and clubhouse presence,” as well as that the Rangers’ new park will be open to fans for the first time in 2021, and the team is going to want to have a competitive team to field then. Rosenthal also mentions Joey Gallo as someone who the Rangers have to weigh dealing, and as we discussed yesterday, trading Lynn and Gallo means a wholesale change in the direction of the team.
Rosenthal also questions what sort of return teams are going to be willing to give up for Lynn. In a time before Coronavirus, Lynn’s value would seem to be huge, as he’s under contract for 2021 for just $8 million, has been durable (with the big caveat of his being sidelined a few years back for Tommy John surgery), and works deep into games with consistency — an increasingly rare trait. Lynn is the type of pitcher who you would normally expect to bring back a big haul.
However, Ken wonders whether a team would even give up a top 100 prospect for Lynn, suggesting that the financial uncertainities surrounding the game makes teams value their cheap, controllable young players even more. The flip side of that, though, is that a team would have Lynn for the rest of 2020 and all of 2021 for a total outlay of less than $10 million, which is a bargain. If teams are counting pennies, getting a legitimate top of the rotation starter for #4 starter money would be a coup.
Even the Yu Darvish trade brought back a top 100 prospect in Willie Calhoun, along with A.J. Alexy and Brendan Davis. If Lance Lynn isn’t going to fetch you a top 100 prospect in baseball, there’s no real reason to trade him. If the best you are going to get is someone in the 125-250 range — particularly when you are limited in being able to acquire only players who are in the 60 man player pool, and when your scouts have been unable to evaluate any players since March — you might as well hang onto Lynn, see what the market is like in the winter, see what it would cost to extend him for a year or two, and see if it makes sense to deal Lynn in the spring or next June.