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Inbox: What are Rangers' trading needs?

Beat reporter T.R. Sullivan answers Texas fans' questions
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

What is the Rangers' biggest need at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline? Bullpen?
-- Connor V., Tulsa, Okla.

That would be the obvious but short-sighted answer. The Rangers' biggest need is "controllable" starting pitching. That means they desperately need an infusion of young starting pitching that could help next year and has, say, less than four years of service time.

What is the Rangers' biggest need at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline? Bullpen?
-- Connor V., Tulsa, Okla.

That would be the obvious but short-sighted answer. The Rangers' biggest need is "controllable" starting pitching. That means they desperately need an infusion of young starting pitching that could help next year and has, say, less than four years of service time.

The Rangers are still in the American League Wild Card hunt with a need for better relief pitching, but right now, the bigger concern is they have a serious lack of pitching depth beyond this season at the Major League and Triple-A levels. That could have a much greater long-term impact on the Rangers than anything else.

The balance is trying to stay in the Wild Card race while still trying to acquire that kind of pitching.

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The Rangers have been on the upswing for the last seven seasons, but are we headed for a fall, with multiple down seasons of rebuilding and looking up at the Astros? The farm system really got depleted, while Adrian Beltre, Cole Hamels, and Mike Napoli are not getting any younger.
-- Coleman W., Caldwell, Texas

:: 2017 Midterm Report: Complete coverage ::

The Rangers are in good shape with position players. The biggest challenge will be putting together a pitching staff next season because of all the free agents, trades and injuries the Rangers have been dealing with over the past three years. After that, the Rangers' farm system could start to catch up again. In 2019, guys like Rangers No. 2 prospect (per MLBPipeline.com) Yohander Mendez, Ariel Jurado (No. 3), Collin Wiles and Connor Sadzeck (No. 10) -- all at Double-A Frisco -- could start to have an impact.

What is the status of pitcher Chi Chi Gonzalez? Is he still hurt?
-- Ryan C., Fort Worth, Texas

Gonzalez is sidelined with a partial tear of a ligament in his right elbow, an injury he sustained in Spring Training. He is currently in Arizona on a throwing program but is not yet off a mound. This appears to be a lost year for him, but the strong hope is he comes back next spring and re-establishes himself as a prospect.

How is Sadzeck doing as a reliever, and when will we see him get called up?
-- Ronnie R., Oklahoma City, Okla.

He has an 11.32 ERA in seven relief appearances after allowing six runs over one inning in his last outing. The Rangers might well consider re-thinking this decision and continue him on a path as a starter.

Video: Top Prospects: Connor Sadzeck, RHP, Rangers

How long do the Rangers stay with Napoli? Wouldn't it be better to give prospect Ronald Guzman (No. 4) a shot?
-- Paul F., Fort Worth

Napoli is on pace for 33 home runs and 71 RBIs. The batting average is ugly, but a lot of his other numbers are close to normal for his career. He also has a history of being better in the second half, so as long as the Rangers are in the Wild Card race, they are not going to give up on Napoli.

What's interesting about Guzman is he is one of the few Rangers prospects who have not been put on a fast track to the Majors. It will be intriguing to see if the Rangers reap benefits from Guzman spending longer in the Minors than others.

Why are the Rangers going with Jason Grilli and leaving Tanner Scheppers in the Minor Leagues?
-- Marla H., Arlington

The Rangers are trying everything possible to reinforce their bullpen. Grilli was available, and Scheppers still has options. Grilli, at age 40, may not be the answer to the Rangers' problems, but he does give them a veteran presence in the bullpen that may have been missing. It will be interesting to see if that kind of leadership has an impact on a young and inexperienced relief staff.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers