The 2017 MLB trade deadline came and went, with the Rangers emerging as sellers. Over the weekend, the Rangers made three trades, all of which involved GM Jon Daniels acquiring prospects in an attempt to build a foundation for the future.
The deadline action involving the Rangers began Sunday night, when catcher Jonathan Lucroy was dealt to the surging Colorado Rockies in exchange for a player to be named later. Lucroy’s stint in Arlington left a lot to be desired, as last deadline, Lucroy was acquired from the Brewers for top prospects Lewis Brinson and Luis Ortiz, in an effort to prepare the club for postseason play. By no means was Lucroy bad in 2016, however the Rangers did not achieve what the 31 year-old was brought in to do. Add his less-than-stellar performance this season (.242/.297/.338 slash line with only 4 homers) to his expiring contract, and it seemed logical for Lucroy to be shipped to a contending team in need of a veteran backstop.
The other piece of the Rangers-Brewers blockbuster from the 2016 deadline was reliever Jeremy Jeffress. On Saturday afternoon, Jeffress was back in a Brewers uniform after a season and a half of miserable play in Arlington. After a DUI arrest down the stretch of the 2016 season, Jeffress was never able to return to his old self on the mound. Entering Monday’s deadline, the righty held an ERA hovering at 5.31. It was clear Jeffress and Arlington were not working out, and 3 hours prior to the official deadline, Jon Daniels shipped the veteran back to his comfortable confines of Milwaukee in exchange for 25 year-old pitching prospect Tayler Scott. Scott projects as a reliever, the same role he’s fulfilled in the Brewers farm system. It is no secret Jon Daniels is always interested in picking up bullpen contributors, and if Scott continues to develop through the farm system, don’t be surprised to see the righty in the Majors within the next 3 years.
And finally, with a minute remaining before the non-waiver deadline, the biggest domino of them all fell, when it was announced ace Yu Darvish had been dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers. After about a month of speculation, Darvish had finally been traded, and to the best team in the majors as a rental. In return, the Rangers acquired uber-prospect Willie Calhoun, a 2nd baseman with a powerful bat, and two other mid-level prospects.
Although Calhoun is a great prospect, it is definitely reasonable to feel a bit underwhelmed at the return the Rangers got. With Darvish’s trade value effected by his expiring contract, a shaky month of July only further hurt his price on the market. It stings knowing Texas dealt their ace without getting a mega-prospect like Alex Verdugo or Walker Buehler in return, but it is likely the Rangers would not have been able to find a sweeter package elsewhere.
following Willie Calhoun to Texas are a pair of high-upside guys who could potentially play their way into the Rangers top 10 prospects list. A.J Alexy, a 19-year old righty currently ranks as the 19th best prospect in the Rangers farm, but his plus off-speed pitch presents a lot of issues for hitters and can possibly transform into a future staple in the Rangers pitching staff. The last prospect acquired by Jon Daniels is Brendon Davis, a 6’4, 185 lbs middle infielder who is 20 years old. Davis’ best weapons on the diamond are his above average arm and plus speed, making him a threat in the defensive phase of the game. If Davis can develop a better bat, then don’t be shocked to see him rise in the organizational prospect rankings in years to come.
This deadline was something Ranger fans are not accustomed to, seeing the front office selling rather than swapping a package of prospects for a player who would help the team win now. However, the young talent acquired enables the Rangers to look towards the future while maintaining a competitive squad on the field.