Coming back from the All-Star break, the decision to buy or sell has remained a hot topic amongst the Ranger faithful. Not surprisingly there are factions on both sides. One name in the middle of it all is Mike Minor. The thought is that if you are buying, he goes. If you are selling, he stays. However, I believe you can also be sellers without off-loading the biggest assets in the clubhouse.
Take a second to consider a scenario where the Rangers lose 9 out of the next 10. The Astros might pull out to an 11 or 12 game lead and 5 or 6 games could separate the Rangers from the second wild-card spot. While Mike Minor and Lance Lynn would fetch a great return, moving them leaves big holes going into next year. The front of the rotation would take a massive hit. While most assume the Rangers will pursue Gerrit Cole, the Dodgers are also said to be high on him. Cole grew up and went to college in the LA area. If the Dodgers were to offer anything close to the Rangers, Gerrit may prefer to go home. Losing out on Cole while trading away Minor or Lynn would be a step back from this year. Not good going into a new stadium. But another way would be to move assets that might not fit into future Ranger plans. That could be Hunter Pence, Logan Forsythe, Chris Martin, or Shawn Kelley.
Alternatively, the Rangers can make this decision easy and continue on a hot streak. Winning the first two games against the AL West-leading Houston Astros is a great start. Should the Rangers take another game or even sweep, then you have to think they want to make a run. All players want to be in the playoffs but coming back from a four-run deficit against arguably one of the best bullpens in baseball is more than just wanting it. It is making a statement. Right now this team seems to be telling Daniels that the first half wasn’t a fluke. Go get us some help.
One thing has been clear since before the season started. Even in the event that they are contenders, the Rangers are not going to rent a player. So any help the Rangers may seek would need to be controllable; unless the rental player only cost a bag of baseballs and some Gatorade for a year. But the Rangers will not part with a prospect for a couple of months of Madison Bumgarner.
There is always a scenario though where the Rangers might rethink that philosophy. Let’s say the Rangers start out with a 10-game winning streak or only lose a couple of games in the next two weeks; that thinking could drastically change. They most likely would be within a game or two of Houston and be firmly entrenched in a wild card position. Jon Daniels would then have to seriously consider a rental for the right price. Would a good rental player be worth a middle of the pack prospect package? Let’s give an example. What if Tanner Roark was able to be had for a package of players like Ryan Dorow and C.D. Pelham? Would that be worth it? The higher ceiling player would be Pelham, but Dorow is on a solid path to a big league utility job. Roark would be a free agent after the season. But his salary would be a prorated amount of the 1 year $10 million dollar deal already in place. Roark would be an upgrade in the rotation from Jessie Chavez who has proved how valuable he is coming out of the bullpen.
There are no easy answers to what the Rangers should do. Especially right now. Daniels has left all options open. He met with the press yesterday. “Sometimes it’s clear-cut, you are either looking to cut payroll or acquire assets to be all-in on the short term. I don’t think we fit necessarily in either of those categories. It’s going to be based on what the opportunities are there” said Daniels.
Buy or sell? Right now the decision is resting on the shoulders of the 25 men in that clubhouse. If they can go on a run, JD will have no choice but to look for the help they need. But how he goes about it could be interesting to watch. With depth at the outfield position, someone like Nomar Mazara, Willie Calhoun or Scott Heineman could be used to get some long term pitching help. In any case, the clubhouse could have new players soon.
This is the time of year I love to watch. With only one trade deadline now, there may be some moving and shaking going on soon. In any case, the Rangers have made this season a blast to watch. At the beginning of the season, who would have thought the words ‘buyer’ and ‘Rangers’ would even be uttered together?
Featured Image: Rose Baca/Dallas Morning News