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Rangers' post-break trip to have big implications

MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are in Trade Deadline limbo as they begin the second half of the season against the Royals.

They still have postseason aspirations despite being two games under .500, because they are just three games out in the American League Wild Card race. So it's hardly likely general manager Jon Daniels is going to give up on the season by trading veterans and potential free agents for future help by the July 31 non-waiver Deadline.

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are in Trade Deadline limbo as they begin the second half of the season against the Royals.

They still have postseason aspirations despite being two games under .500, because they are just three games out in the American League Wild Card race. So it's hardly likely general manager Jon Daniels is going to give up on the season by trading veterans and potential free agents for future help by the July 31 non-waiver Deadline.

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On the other hand, the Rangers' losing record may also suggest this is not the time for another blockbuster trade that will get them into the World Series. The Rangers don't appear that close to merit taxing an already-thinned farm system, even though they have the financial flexibility and a general manager who always feels a responsibility to upgrade his team this time of year.

So what happens now?

The first 10 days of the second half may determine the Rangers' fate. They open with a 10-game road trip against Kansas City, Baltimore and Tampa Bay, and they don't play another home game until July 24, when the Marlins come to town. The Rangers may know better after that trip where they stand.

"It's just one of those obstacles we've got to get through," manager Jeff Banister said. "They are not going to change it for us."

Banister is just eager to see a fully functioning team. The Rangers closed out the first half as close to being at full strength as they have been all season. They certainly have the rotation they expected in Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Martin Perez, Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross, and their lineup has all the players expected on Opening Day.

The bullpen remains a work in progress, and that is likely where the Rangers' trade priorities are aimed this month. But right now, Banister just wants to see how the Rangers perform with the team they expected to have coming out of Spring Training.

"It's huge," Banister said. "We get everybody back after the break, refreshed and fully functioning. There are a lot of things to look forward to based on the number of things we didn't have in the first half."

TRADE SCENARIO
The Rangers have been trying to upgrade their bullpen, and there could be plenty of relief help at the Trade Deadline. The top targets are right-handers David Robertson, Pat Neshek and Addison Reed, and left-handers Justin Wilson, Brad Hand and Sean Doolittle. The Rangers' farm system is not as strong as it has been, but there is always a possibility of including infielder Jurickson Profar in a deal

WHAT ARE THEY PLAYING FOR?
It would take something extraordinary for the Rangers to make a serious run at a division title. But they are clearly in the Wild Card race, and the Rangers have made it clear that is their goal.

THE ROAD AHEAD
The Rangers open the second half with a 10-game, no-days-off road trip to Kansas City, Baltimore and Tampa Bay. But they also have two big road trips against West Division rivals, a 10-game trip in August and a nine-game one in September. If the Rangers are indeed in the middle of the AL Wild Card race, then a three-game series against the Yankees on Sept. 8-10 in Arlington could be big for both teams.

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KEY PLAYER
Adrian Beltre missed almost the first two months of the season, just one of many injuries the Rangers had to endure. Now he is healthy and just 22 hits away from 3,000 for his career.

PROSPECTS TO WATCH
Utility player Drew Robinson, ranked No. 23 on the Rangers' top 30 prospects list by MLBPipeline.com, has made a couple of cameo appearances for the Rangers in the first half. He may take on a more permanent role for the Rangers if he continues to perform.

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