Texas entered play on Friday with an 11-19 record, ranking last in MLB in runs per game (3.6) and 24th in ERA (5.16) despite Lynn supplying a 1.59 mark in 45 1/3 innings.
As a result, Lynn has been floated as a trade candidate, and Texas is reportedly fielding offers for the big righty, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic (subscription required).
With Lynn under control for just $8 million in 2021 and the Rangers hoping to have fans at their new park for the first time next season, it’s going to take a lot to get Texas to move Lynn. But after holding onto Mike Minor at last year’s Trade Deadline knowing they had him under contract for $9.5 million in 2020 only to watch his stock plummet this year, the Rangers have an incentive to deal Lynn while his value is at its peak.
Lynn could be a true difference-maker in this year’s postseason, and the fact that he’s not a rental is an added bonus. Each of the clubs below should have him at the top of its wish list before the Trade Deadline, and here’s why. (Teams listed in alphabetical order.)
In the Billy Beane era, the A’s consistently have been a competitive regular season team, only to sputter out in the playoffs on many occasions. But after losing in the American League Wild Card Game in each of the past two years, Oakland is in position to win the AL West this year and has a real chance to represent the AL in the World Series. Lynn would give the A’s a bona fide ace to start Game 1 of a playoff series in front of Chris Bassitt, Jesús Luzardo and either Mike Fiers, Sean Manaea or Frankie Montas. Oakland would also have the option of using Luzardo as a multi-inning weapon out of the ’pen.
The Blue Jays are the favorite to claim the eighth and final postseason spot in the AL, and trading for Lynn would give Toronto a chance to really make some noise once the playoffs start. As it stands now, the Jays likely don’t have enough starting pitching to contend with the AL powerhouses, but a rotation led by Lynn, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Taijuan Walker could be tough. And even if Lynn didn’t make the Jays immediate World Series contenders, he would be back next season, when Toronto’s young core might be ready to take the next step.
The Braves have remained one of the best teams in the National League this season despite losing Mike Soroka for the year to a torn Achilles and not getting a single start out of free-agent addition Cole Hamels (45-day IL, left triceps tendinitis). Atlanta has taken a measured approach to the trade market in recent years, retaining its top prospects, but after two straight NL Division Series exits, it’s time to get aggressive. Although Ronald Acuña Jr. is still just 22 years old, Freddie Freeman is now in his 30s, and Marcell Ozuna, Mark Melancon and Shane Greene can become free agents at the end of this year. In addition to significantly improving their chances in 2020, the Braves would be able to lock in a top four of Lynn, Soroka, Max Fried and Ian Anderson (MLB's No. 42 overall prospect) for their ’21 rotation, allowing the club to focus on its offense and bullpen in the offseason.
The bullpen might be a more pressing need, but the Padres should be doing all they can to add talent while they still have Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack on pre-arbitration salaries. The Friars do have large financial commitments tied to Manny Machado, Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers, but Lynn wouldn’t break the bank this season, and he would effectively replace Garrett Richards in 2021. Richards, who can become a free agent this offseason, is earning the prorated portion of his $8.5 million salary this year. Even if they make MacKenzie Gore (MLB's No. 5 overall prospect) off limits, the Padres have the prospects to get a deal done with the Rangers.
Tampa Bay is leading the AL East, but it currently has 10 pitchers on the injured list, and five are out for the season. The Rays should dip into one of the game’s best farm systems to reel in Lynn, who could help make them the AL favorites. Tampa Bay could roll with a playoff rotation of Lynn, Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Charlie Morton (if healthy), shifting Ryan Yarbrough back to the bullpen to aid an ailing relief corps.
With a mix of young stars and veterans, the White Sox have become one of the most exciting teams in baseball -- and a serious playoff contender sooner than expected. However, their rotation is a question mark after Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel. No. 3 starter Dylan Cease owns a 3.13 ERA this season, but it’s difficult to see him keeping that up when he has a 5.96 FIP and 6.04 xERA behind it. If they don’t make a move this summer, the White Sox will need to address their rotation at some point. Acquiring Lynn would not only help them in 2020, but also allow them to avoid getting into a bidding war for one of the top free-agent starters this offseason.
You might have forgotten, but the Yankees actually had Lynn (sans beard) for a brief stint two years ago, as they picked him up from the Twins in a trade prior to the 2018 Deadline. During his time in pinstripes, Lynn began to show signs of the pitcher he’d become with the Rangers, recording a 2.17 FIP, albeit with a 4.14 ERA. New York was expected to have one of the best rotations in baseball after signing Gerrit Cole in December, but after Luis Severino underwent Tommy John surgery and James Paxton went down with a flexor strain in his left forearm, the club is now lacking in that area. While the Yanks remain a World Series-or-bust outfit in 2020, general manager Brian Cashman also needs to be thinking about how he’s going to fill out the team’s rotation in ’21, as Masahiro Tanaka and Paxton are eligible for free agency this offseason.