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No more half measures

Jon Daniels channels Mike Ehrmentraut in his Gallo trade press conference

AMC Celebrates The Final Episodes Of “Breaking Bad” - Arrivals Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

Jon Daniels talked to the media on Thursday after the Joey Gallo trade was announced, and my takeaway is that the organization has decided to channel Mike Ehrmantraut:

Here’s the money quote from JD, courtesy of Evan Grant:

When we talk about rebuilding that can’t be at half measures. If you’re going to embrace it you have to be realistic about the options. That’s why it was very clear to us it was extension or trade.

The Rangers have been doing half measures for a while. They traded Yu Darvish and Jonathan Lucroy in July, 2017, while still fancying themselves as contenders, even making minor buys in September of that year. They gambled on a few reclamation projects and injury guys in 2018, hitting on Mike Minor while whiffing on the rest. They went a similar route in 2019, struck gold with Lance Lynn, got a huge first half from Hunter Pence, and then petered out. They signed Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles before 2020, traded for Corey Kluber, and patched together a roster for the first year in the new park that, while not a favorite, looked like it could be a contender if lots of things went right.

The Rangers were hoping to transition from one core group of a winning team to another without truly going through a rebuild. They never really committed to a win-now plan — and given what we know now about the young players that were supposed to be part of that next wave, that was supposed to be the core for the late-teens/early-20s Rangers clubs, that’s probably for the best. The Rangers, as it turned out, had one internal player — Joey Gallo — worth building around, and nothing else. It’s really hard to spend your way to contention without a quality internal nucleus, and I don’t think anyone would argue that the Rangers would have been a playoff team the past few years, or would have been in a better position now, if they’d moneywhipped Anthony Rendon or Madison Bumgarner or David Price. Hell, they hit two home runs with Mike Minor and Lance Lynn and still floundered.

But they also didn’t commit to a rebuild. There are reasons why that make sense — they wanted to keep their window open while Yu Darvish was here, and then while Adrian Beltre was here, then wanted to try to have a decent team when the new park opened — but however much sense they made, they contributed to the situation the team is in now.

Call what the organization was trying to do a “skinny rebuild.” Call it trying to reload. Call it threading the needle. Call it in an inability to commit to one definitive direction. Whatever you call it, the Rangers are in the midst of a rebuild, and have just traded the best homegrown player of the last decade.

So if you believe Jon Daniels, they are leaning into the rebuild. No more wishful thinking. No more half measures.

I just hope it works out better for the Rangers than it did for Mike.