ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are in first place at the All-Star break, but that isn't good enough for them. There is no doubt what the Rangers are playing for in 2016.World Series or bust.Losing nine of 12 to end the first half hasn't changed the goal. That's why the Rangers
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are in first place at the All-Star break, but that isn't good enough for them. There is no doubt what the Rangers are playing for in 2016.
World Series or bust.
Losing nine of 12 to end the first half hasn't changed the goal. That's why the Rangers will be aggressive as the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches. They are looking for both a starting pitcher and a reliever, and they have both the financial flexibility and the deep farm system to acquire both.
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General manager Jon Daniels has never been afraid of reinforcing his team at the Deadline if there is a chance to go deep in the playoffs, and his players believe they have a chance to do more than that.
"Win the World Series," said third baseman Adrián Beltré, acknowledging anything else is unacceptable.
"For me, it's that way," Beltre said. "I don't have a lot of time left to be comfortable just going to the playoffs. That's not enough for me. I'm here to push this thing to the World Series and win it."
"That's true," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "That's what we are here for. We have come a long way, and we need to win it all. Getting to the postseason is the first thing, but as soon as we make it, winning the World Series is on our minds."
The Rangers haven't won a World Series in their 55-year existence, dating back to 1961 when they were the Washington Senators. Only the Indians, whose last title came in 1948, have a longer drought among AL teams.
"Why else do you play," manager Jeff Banister said. "You play for second place so you can get a pat on the back?"
The Rangers need a starter and a reliever, so how about getting both in one trade like they did last year when they acquired both Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman in one deal. The rebuilding Braves have two desirable targets in right-hander Julio Teheran, who is signed through 2019, and reliever Arodys Vizcaíno. The Braves need young offensive muscle, but the Rangers aren't likely to give up Joey Gallo. Texas could put a good offensive package together around pitcher Dillon Tate that could be enticing to the Braves, but the Rangers' insistence on holding on to Gallo may be the key to the discussions.
WHAT ARE THEY PLAYING FOR?
The Rangers have already made it clear.
THE ROAD AHEAD
The Rangers open the second half with 17 of 23 games on the road, and it won't be easy. They'll start with three games at Wrigley Field against the powerful Cubs, and they also have three against the Royals (July 22-24), the Orioles (Aug. 2-4) and the Astros (Aug. 5-7) on the road. Another big 10-game road trip comes up in early September when the Rangers face the Mariners (Sept. 5-8), Angels (Sept. 9-11) and the Astros (Sept. 12-14). After that, the Rangers play 12 of their final 15 in Arlington.
Is there any doubt about this one? The Rangers' rotation has been ravaged by injuries, and Yu Darvish is the first one coming off the shelf. The Rangers really need Darvish to be healthy and at the top of his game for the final two months of the season.
PROSPECTS TO WATCH
The Rangers have viewed Gallo as a nice alternative should somebody get hurt at the big league level. Now he may be viewed as an alternative for a lack of production or a needed jolt to a struggling offense.
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.