ARLINGTON -- Injuries and an eight-game losing streak have shown the Rangers do not have one of the elite teams in the American League this season.
Now, as Monday's 3 p.m. CT Trade Deadline approaches, the Rangers must decide whether they are good enough to get back into contention for one of eight spots in the expanded 2020 postseason or whether they need to look to next year. They have players of value -- pitchers Lance Lynn and Rafael Montero top the list -- who would be of interest to other clubs.
The other decision is whether making the postseason but being a low seed would be worth turning down an impactful trade that could help in the long run.
“There is value in making the playoffs, yes,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “That’s where you have to make that decision. It’s largely based on what clubs are willing to part with. Some clubs we have talked to are more motivated than others. We’ll see where we go. It would have to make sense for us. We wouldn’t look to move guys for inventory, but if there are other reasons to do so, we would have to look at it.”
An important wrinkle to this year’s Trade Deadline is that teams can only trade players who are part of their 60-man player pool (assigned either to the big league team or the alternate site). Clubs are permitted to include players to be named later in trades, however. Additionally, scouts have not been allowed to attend games in person, so all assessments of prospects have been done based on provided video and data and past knowledge.
“It's a challenge,” Daniels said. “One of several. There is a video- and data-sharing system that some teams are sharing. Secondly, we can use our contacts and information, but it's much different than usual. You don't have nearly as much confidence as you would have at any point in the past.”
If the Rangers do anything, it would be sell. Early injuries to pitchers Corey Kluber and José Leclerc were the first big setbacks to their chances of both making the postseason and having a deep run once they got there. Disappointing performances from pitcher Mike Minor and second baseman Rougned Odor, contributing to a lack of offensive firepower and a rotation that hasn’t been as strong as expected, have also eroded the Rangers' chances of being a factor in the postseason.
A playoff spot is within reach if the Rangers can get on a sustained run. But the more likely scenario is the club doing what it has done in each of the past three seasons, and that is continue adding young players who can be a part of the long-term future.
What they want
It doesn’t matter whether the Rangers are buyers or sellers, this is an organization that could use more offense. First base is a clear area of need now that Ronald Guzmán has yet to claim the position, but the Rangers could use more power overall. Shortstop depth is another need.
Pitching is always a need, even though the Rangers have been committed to rebuilding that part of the system. It could even be an area of strength if their talented young arms continue to recover from the many Tommy John surgeries that clobbered the Rangers over the past few years.
What they have to offer
Lynn is the Rangers' most coveted player. He is signed through next season, which increases his trade value. But they also like the idea of Lynn leading their rotation next season. The Rangers need to get two or three legitimate prospects in return if they are to consider trading Lynn.
Montero is another possibility, given the high demand for bullpen help among contenders. Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and Minor are both free agents after the season. Their value is down, but they might be moved if other clubs aren’t able to fulfill needs elsewhere.
Chance of a deal
51 percent. The Rangers always seem to make a deal around the Deadline, whether they are contenders or looking to the future. They are going to get hit up regarding Lynn. The Dodgers, Braves and Yankees are likely to be in best position to take a run at the veteran right-hander.