With the July trade deadline fast approaching, I thought it might be interesting to put together a trade board of players the Texas Rangers should be looking at as July 31 creeps closer. With needs centering around pitching and another corner outfielder, this list reflects the top 10 players I think the Texas Rangers could look at, as well as the top players they should consider acquiring. You may not agree, but that’s what creates a great debate. Let’s look at the board …
1. David Price, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Analysis: There is absolutely more concern than has been in the past about the injury that put him on the disabled list. The question: Did it diminish his trade value come July? If he comes back and continues to struggle, the Rays will not be able to ask for the package they would have gotten, say, July of last season. The answer to his injury questions will determine whether or not the Texas Rangers have to ship Jurickson Profar to Tampa to make a deal happen. Despite the injury, you’re still talking about a young pitcher who is not only signable long term but also someone who has a Cy Young in his back pocket and who hasn’t even hit his prime yet. One injury shouldn’t sway the opinion just yet.
2. Jake Peavy, RHP, Chicago White Sox
Analysis: Some might think this a far-fetched idea, but that’s what a lot of San Diego Padres fans thought before he was actually dealt to Chicago. It’s what Padres fans also thought about another young right-hander, Mat Latos, before he was dealt to Cincinnati. Never say never when trades are concerned. That being said, Peavy does not have a no-trade clause and Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago believes the only untouchable player on the White Sox roster is Chris Sale. Hayes went as far as to say the team would deal Peavy for “a big haul of prospects.” The only hold up on the possibility of acquiring Peavy is the amount of money he’s still owed. He will make $14.5 million in 2104 and, if he reaches 400 combined innings in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, and he is not on the disabled list at the end of the 2014 season, a $15 million player option will kick in.
3. Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Cincinnati Reds
Analysis: During the 2012 offseason, I asked a few Cleveland Indians insiders whether or not they would deal Shin-Soo Choo. I was told there was no way Choo was going to be dealt. December 11, 2012, Choo was, in fact, dealt to the Cincinnati Reds in a three-way trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Fast forward six months and I’m wonder aloud whether the Reds would be open to dealing Choo, especially since GM Walt Jocketty isn’t sure they have the money to re-sign him after this season. “I hate to even address it,” Jocketty told MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. “We got him with the idea we would get him for the year and then try to develop Billy Hamilton to play next year. If we’re in a position where we think we can sign Choo, it’s a big bonus for us. Would we love to? Absolutely. But we have to really look and see where our financial revenues and financial projections of future revenues are. It’s still a little early to do that. There’s not a lot to spare, I can tell you that.” If Jocketty gets into a position where he believes there’s no way to afford Choo, the best thing he can do is deal him in July and get the best package he can in return. One thing to keep in mind, Choo wants to make sure his next contract is long term, he wants to stay in one place for a long length of time. “I want to stay in the same area for a long time — wherever it is,” Choo told Sheldon. “Kids need their dad. It’s hard in the baseball season — you spend six months away by yourself, and six months you get together in the offseason. I want to stay in one area. But I’m not thinking about it. I’m not thinking about teams or cities.”
4. Tyler Clippard, RHP, Washington Nationals
Analysis: The Texas Rangers have had interest in the 28-year-old right-hander in the past, and that interest may come up again in July. Clippard hasn’t given up an earned run in his last 8.2 innings, and opposing hitters are managing just a .121 average against him. The only problem, and the reason his earned run average isn’t a tad bit lower, is his 11 walks in 18.2 total innings. The Texas Rangers bullpen could use another strong arm, especially if neither Neftali Feliz or Joakim Soria can come back from offseason surgery with any sort of success. So far, they’ve been able to stem the tide with Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Ross and Joe Nathan, as well as the emergence of Neil Cotts, but how long will that last?
5. Alex Rios, OF, Chicago White Sox
Analysis: Joel Sherman of the New York Post lists Rios as one of the five most likely trade candidates come July, and I couldn’t agree with him more. Although he has only played a single game in left field in his career, the Texas Rangers would more than likely want him to fill that role. Rios is a career .279 hitter, but he’s coming off a career season in batting average (.304), home runs (25) and RBI (91), as well as hitting .348 with runners in scoring position and .326 with runners on base. No disrespect to David Murphy or Jeff Baker, but Rios provides more protection in the lineup in front of guys like Lance Berkman, Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz or even A.J. Pierzynski, something the Rangers could really use. Rios has one more year left on his deal ($12.5 million) with a club option ($13.5 million) for 2015.
6. Matt Garza, RHP, Chicago Cubs
Analysis: The injury history with Garza might make this a bad idea but it sure hasn’t swayed the Texas Rangers in kicking the tires on him in the past. The right-hander is coming off an injury that kept him out for almost the first two months of the season. However, in his first start in 2013, he gave up just a single hit through 5.1 innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates but lasted just four innings in his second start against the Cincinnati Reds. If Garza can prove he still has something left in the tank, he may not be a bad option for the Texas Rangers going forward.
7. Giancarlo Stanton, OF , Miami Marlins
Analysis: The reason I don’t have Stanton higher than seven at this point is I’m not 100 percent convinced I want to send the Texas Rangers’ top prospect to Miami for an outfielder. While I know what his potential is, I just believe this team needs pitching more than they do another bat in the lineup. Besides, the Rangers didn’t lose back-to-back World Series because they had a lack of power bats in the lineup. That said, Stanton made it known during the 2012 offseason that he was not happy with owner Jeffrey Loria shipping off players he had just signed a year earlier. In fact, he said as much on his Twitter account. However, the Marlins do not have an obligation to trade the young outfielder just because he might be a tad unhappy. In fact, being under team control for another five to six years means they won’t even have to talk to him about a long-term deal for quite some time. Unless the Marlins get blown away by a deal, I’m just not convinced they’ll deal him away.
8. Cliff Lee, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
Analysis: This might be a total reach, but I’m going to put his name on the list because I really think he might be someone the Texas Rangers might consider if they can’t get their first few choices as far as pitchers. Lee knows the ballpark, and you can argue that he would be joining a better team than the one he joined a few years ago, but what might hold up any sort of deal for the left-hander is how much salary the Phillies are willing to eat if they do end up trading him. Lee is due $50 million over the next two seasons with a $27.5 million club option for 2016. If Matt Harrison is unable to return this season after undergoing two back surgeries, maybe the Texas Rangers do look at Lee as another left-hander for the starting rotation.
9. David DeJesus, OF, Chicago Cubs
Analysis: DeJesus isn’t a prototypical power hitter that makes an immediate impact. He is, however, a guy who gives you solid defense in left field as well as an impact bat that can hit with runners in scoring position or even with runners on. The Rangers could get a guy who has a .295 career average with runners in scoring position, as well as hitting a career .304 with runners in scoring position and two outs. Those are the kind of numbers this Texas Rangers team could use down the stretch. DeJesus will be a free agent after this season if the $6.5 million club option isn’t picked up for the 2014 season.
10. Jared Burton, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Analysis: Among big league relievers, Burton is among the best in holds (10) and holds a 2.38 ERA and a 2.24 batting-average against. The Twins are going to be looking to unload a few players at the deadline and perhaps shed some salary if they can do it. Among those players possibly on their way out are Justin Morneau and maybe Josh Willingham. If Burton can be had, the Rangers could certainly use a guy like him in their bullpen, giving them another strong right-hander to add to guys like Scheppers and Nathan. He’s owed a combined $6.85 million over the 2014 and 2015 seasons with a $200,000 buyout.