Scooping the Texas Rangers: Trade-deadline targets, volume three


Scooping the Texas Rangers banner -- Mike Maddux

Alex Rios connects with a pitch.
Alex Rios would be a nice fit in the Texas Rangers outfield. (Dave Reginek/Getty Images)

The trade deadline is getting closer, so the water-cooler conversations are intensifying around who the Texas Rangers’ acquisition targets might be. Here is the third installment of my trade-deadline targets.

1. Kyle Kendrick, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
Last week: No. 1

Analysis: Kendrick stays on the top of my list despite a tough start against the Colorado Rockies (4.1 IP, 7 ER). One start later, Kendrick bounced back with a solid effort against the Washington Nationals (7.2 IP, 1 ER). He’s at the top of my list for a reason: No matter how much Ranger fans and national media want to talk about Cliff Lee being traded, Kendrick would absolutely be my first choice, especially with the kind of money Lee has left on his deal. Kendrick has gone at least six innings 12 of his 15 starts so far this season and has given up three runs or less in 11 of those.

2. Alex Rios, OF, Chicago White Sox
Last week: No. 4

Analysis: Alex Rios continues to climb further up my trade board, and I’m not the only one talking about the possibility of him landing in Texas. Jim Bowden was on ESPN Dallas radio on Thursday afternoon and gave this trade proposal to Richard Durrett and Ian Fitzsimmons: Justin Grimm, Joey Gallo, Lewis Brinson and Jorge Alfaro to the Chicago White Sox for the aforementioned Rios, as well as right-hander Jake Peavy (who’s been on my trade list for a few weeks now). The White Sox outfielder is coming off a 2012 season that saw him finish with a .304 average with 25 HR and 91 RBI (all career highs). The Texas Rangers need better offense than what  David Murphy provides in left field, so Rangers fans love the possibility of Rios, Leonys Martin and Nelson Cruz patrolling the outfield, not to mention adding Rios’ bat to a lineup with Adrian Beltre, Cruz, Mitch Moreland and A.J. Pierzynski.

3. Josh Johnson, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
Last week: Unranked

Analysis: This isn’t the first time I’ve been on Josh Johnson’s bandwagon. Most of you might remember me talking about him before he was dealt from Miami to Toronto in yet another Marlins fire-sale. The 29-year-old right-hander does have injury concerns but, save for a few starts, hasn’t been terrible for the Blue Jays. He’s not going to cost the Texas Rangers nearly as much as he would have this time a year ago.

4. Cliff Lee, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
Last week: No. 7

Analysis: Lee moves up three spots from the last trade board because I’m certainly not going to be naïve about the possibility of him landing back in Arlington for his second stint with the club. If the Phillies send along some cash in the deal to help cover the costs of what’s left of his contract, I could see the Texas Rangers getting involved. He will certainly help this club down the stretch, there’s little question about that. The one big question that has to be mentioned is whether or not Lee waives his no-trade clause and accepts a deal to Texas. After all, they’re on his “don’t trade me there” list.

5. Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota Twins
Last week: Unranked

Analysis: I battled over this one for several reasons. Right now, you have the potential of a suspension coming down on top of Nelson Cruz, which could take him away from the team from 50 to 100 games, depending on what kind of mood Major League Baseball finds itself in. That said, David Murphy isn’t the guy this team needs offensively in left field going forward. I’ve always felt like he better suited to be a role player for this team, a fourth outfielder if you will. But it brings me to a dilemma where Morneau is concerned. He’s never played the outfield before, so it begs the question: Are you okay moving Mitch Moreland to left field to open the first base position for Morneau? He’s exactly the kind of guy this Rangers’ offense needs in the lineup, hitting .333 with runners in scoring position, .700 with the bases loaded and .309 with runners on base. This team has had a hard time manufacturing runs, especially in the month of June, so why not grab a guy like this?

6. Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Cincinnati Reds
Last week: No. 5

Analysis: Every time I try to talk myself out of putting Choo on the list, mostly because people keep telling me “the Reds won’t trade him,” I remember I was told the same thing before the Indians dealt him to Cincinnati in December. Not to mention the quotes from Reds GM Walt Jocketty about being uncertain they can afford to re-sign him after this season. He’s the absolute perfect fit for this offense, maybe not power-wise, but on-base-wise (.426); he’s leading the big leagues in walks (49). He’s the kind of guy you want toward the top of your lineup because he’s a table setter, a guy who’s going to get things started. The moment the trade deadline comes and goes without Choo being dealt is the moment I take him off my trade list.

7. Travis Wood, LHP, Chicago Cubs
Last week: Unranked

Analysis: This might not be a name a lot of people know, but it might be a name you should keep your eye on as July 31 creeps closer. The Chicago Cubs are going to be sellers at the deadline, and while there have been numerous conversations surrounding Matt Garza, there’s another name I would rather put my interest in, especially with Garza not looking like the kind of pitcher I would want in this rotation (unless he becomes the Tampa Bay version). Travis Wood, a 26-year-old left-hander, is 5-6 (14 starts) with a 2.74 ERA and a .197 batting-average against. With Derek Holland his normal, inconsistent self and Matt Harrison possibly being out for the remainder of the 2013 season, depending on how his back recovers from two different surgeries, the Texas Rangers could use a solid lefty in a right-handed heavy rotation.

8. Francisco Rodriguez, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
Last week: Unranked

Analysis: This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about “K-Rod,” but with the kind of season he’s having for the Brewers, I have no problem putting him back on my trade list. I think the Texas Rangers could stand to get another strong reliever for their bullpen instead of relying heavily on Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Ross, Neal Cotts, and, from scary game to scary game, Joe Nathan. In 14 appearances this season, Rodriguez has a 0.68 ERA and is holding opposing hitters to a .159 average. If this is the K-Rod of old, I think he is absolutely worth acquiring to strengthen the Rangers bullpen down the stretch.

9. David Price, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Last week: No. 2

Analysis: Yeah, I know this is a big drop for Rays’ left-hander but I’m becoming less and less convinced that either Tampa is going to deal him or Texas is going to be willing to give up the kind of players it’ll take to even get the conversations started. While there’s no question Price would give this rotation arguably the best 1-2 punch in baseball, with Yu Darvish, it would take a haul of players and I just don’t see the Texas Rangers parting with top prospects. It’s not their style to give up top-flight prospects for a guy who will be a free agent after the 2015 season. Sure, you’ll have one of the best starters in baseball for two and a half full seasons, but it is really worth giving up young players under team control for anywhere between the next six or seven seasons? He’ll stay on my list for now, but I’m not sure for how much longer.

10. Andre Ethier, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Last week: Unranked

Analysis: I didn’t have Ethier on my list last week, but I’m going to put him back on the list this week with a big asterisk next to his name. I still believe there’s something to be said about changing a player’s scenery and putting somewhere he can succeed. From the moment Ethier was called up to the big-league club, there was a ton of pressure to be the next big thing. He was going to be the offensive powerhouse to carry the team, along with another slugging outfielder, Matt Kemp. Well, now he’s on the outs with manager Don Mattingly, and the Dodgers are in the cellar of the National League’s Western Division. I said he would come with an asterisk, and it’s this: Acquiring Ethier would need to come with a boatload of cash from owner Magic Johnson. There’s no chance, if I’m the Texas Rangers, I take on what he still has left on his insane contract (four years and $67.5M, plus a $17.5M club option for 2018). I really do believe he still has something left in the tank. Bring him to a contending team with a chance to win its division, not to mention make a deep run in the playoffs, and let’s see what happens. He’s not in my top five, but he’s certainly worth keeping on the back burner … for now.

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