Inbox: What should Texas target at Deadline?

July 16th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Kennedi Landry’s Rangers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers opened the second half with a series win over Cleveland in Texas, rebounding nicely after series losses in Boston and Washington before the All-Star break.

With an important second half underway, it’s time for another Rangers inbox, where I answer a few of your questions about the team’s present and future. Thank you to everyone who submitted questions.

Who needs to step up in the second half to keep the lead in the division? -- @rangersoftex on Twitter

Corey Seager may be the Rangers' best player, but I think this offense and this team as a whole truly goes as goes. Seager said it.

“When your leadoff guy is swinging the bat well and gets on base, everything kind of rolls from there," Seager said after a Rangers win last month. "There's always traffic, he steals bases, he kind of does everything. When he's out there, we're a good team.”

Semien was slashing .282/.344/.457 through the end of June, but he entered Sunday hitting just .186 with a .550 OPS in 11 July games. It's not a coincidence that has lined up with the Rangers' most recent skid. If Texas wants to continue winning games and extend its two-game lead over the Astros in the AL West, Semien will have to be the catalyst.

Where (what level: Low- or High-A , Double-A) will Langford start his career? -- @DMillerDFW on Twitter

The Rangers' first-round Draft pick this year, Wyatt Langford will report to Surprise, Ariz., immediately after he signs and then the Rangers will make a decision on where to place him for the remainder of the Minor League season.

Based on the recent college hitters Texas has selected -- Josh Jung in 2019 and Justin Foscue in ‘20 -- I expect Langford to get his feet wet for a few games in Rookie ball in the Complex League before a promotion to Single-A Down East or High-A Hickory.

In summer 2019, Jung annihilated Rookie ball with a .588 average over four games before going to Single-A. In ‘21, Foscue played just three games in Rookie ball before a promotion to High-A Hickory, skipping Single-A all together. I would expect Langford to follow a similar trajectory.

Who are the Rangers targeting at the Deadline? Another starter and more bullpen help? -- @DaddyAdolis on Twitter

What do you think the front office focuses on at the Deadline, bullpen? Another starter? Middle of the order bat? -- @ryanrosales_16 on Twitter

Despite the addition of Aroldis Chapman, the bullpen still needs to be a priority as we get closer to the Trade Deadline, especially if the only trustworthy high-leverage arms continue to be just him and Will Smith. Only two other Rangers relievers -- Brock Burke and Jose Leclerc -- have a sub-3.00 ERA.

General manager Chris Young always says you can never have too much starting pitching, and he’s absolutely right. Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Gray and Dane Dunning have all provided more than enough quality innings this season, but Martín Pérez and Andrew Heaney have struggled for stretches throughout the year. If there’s hope for a deep postseason run -- and there definitely is -- Texas needs to build more depth in the rotation.

As for who the targets are, there are plenty of options, specifically in both the AL and NL Central. The Rangers could contact the Royals again for closer Scott Barlow, or any number of White Sox relievers -- Liam Hendriks, Kendall Graveman, Joe Kelly. Both the Cubs and Cardinals could end up being sellers, so Marcus Stroman or Jordan Montgomery could be of interest. And, honestly, take your pick from the Tigers pitching staff. A starter in Eduardo Rodriguez, relievers in Jason Foley or Alex Lange. And if San Diego continues spiraling, maybe even someone such as Blake Snell will be on the trade block.

A lot of players will be available before the Deadline. The Rangers will just have to decide how much prospect capital they’re willing to spend.

When will we (the fans) have to stop scoreboard watching the Astros from catching us to us scoreboard watching the Rays as we try to catch them? -- @elementalgemini on Twitter

I wouldn’t stop scoreboard watching, if you’re into that kind of thing. The Rangers are really good, and we’ve seen that, but the Astros aren’t going away. We’ve seen that, too, most recently when they took the series in Arlington before the break. 

I think it’s fair to say that if the Rangers extend the division lead to double digits, then maybe you can start worrying about catching the Rays for the No. 1 seed in the AL. But don’t forget the Mets blew an astronomical lead in the division to the Braves last season that likely cost them a deep postseason run. It’s not over until it’s over, and the Astros are still hot on Texas’ tail. Everybody should probably stick to worrying about the AL West until playoff time.