ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are in last place in the American League West at the All-Star break primarily because of their starting pitching.
There are other areas to point at -- injuries, inconsistent offense, a defense that leads the league in errors -- but it really comes down to starting pitching, and Texas continues to struggle in putting together a viable rotation.
Cole Hamels and Mike Minor have been hot and cold, Martin Perez has been limited to six starts because of injury and Doug Fister and Matt Moore have not contributed as much as expected. Overall, the Rangers' rotation -- despite the best efforts of Bartolo Colon -- is 25-42 with a 5.31 ERA, and that has been the foundation of all their problems.
Current status: Seller
The Rangers went into the season fully admitting they were not "all-in" this season. The latest corollary to that philosophy is success this season will not be measured by wins or losses, but by the development of their young players. Texas has clearly evolved into a rebuilding mode, and it will attempt to augment that with its July 31 Trade Deadline deals.
What they are seeking
They need young pitching. Desperately. Not only has their Major League rotation had issues, but the Rangers' problems run deep into their farm system. Top pitching prospects Cole Ragans, Alex Speas, Joe Palumbo, Kyle Cody and Chi Chi Gonzalez have all had to deal with Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, and Yohander Mendez had his reset button pushed by being sent all the way back to Class A.
What they have to offer
Hamels is the obvious trade chip, but he only heads the list. Realistically, the Rangers have to listen on anybody. Certainly, they are going to be reluctant to include Nomar Mazara, Jose Leclerc, Keone Kela and perhaps some of their other young talent, but they can't afford to be close-minded on anything. Texas needs to find starting pitching any way possible.
The Rangers aren't opposed to trading for young Class A pitchers with high upside, but really could use starters with a chance to contribute in the next year or two. So if Philadelphia is interested in Hamels, Texas may prefer to discuss Triple-A pitchers Tom Eshelman and Ranger Suarez or Double-A pitchers JoJo Romero or Franklyn Kilome. The Yankees are deep in Minor League pitching, including Chance Adams and Giovanny Gallegos at Triple-A and Domingo Acevedo, Trevor Stephan and Jonathan Loaisiga at Double-A. Hamels will likely have three starts before July 31, and the Rangers need him at his best to maximize his trade value.