The deal came swiftly on Thursday morning as the Atlanta Braves and Arizona Diamondbacks completed a trade that sent Justin Upton and third baseman Chris Johnson to Atlanta for Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, Nick Ahmed and Zeke Spruill according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com.
This ends months upon months upon months of rumors and possible trade scenarios surrounding Upton as well as speculation as to where he might end up. The Texas Rangers made a big push to land the outfielder, but, in the end, it just wasn’t enough.
While some believed the Rangers “needed” Justin Upton, I would argue they “need” another starter more than they need another outfielder. You can have all the offense you want, but without a good rotation and bullpen, it won’t matter how many runs you put up if your pitchers can’t keep runs off the board.
Now that Upton joins his brother, B.J., in Atlanta, rumors have begun to circulate a little more that Texas could be shifting their focus to another outfielder, Michael Bourn. However, Texas would need to give up a draft pick if they sign him, and it’s unlikely the Rangers front office will be comfortable with that.
With Upton gone, and Bourn possibly not an option, where do the Rangers go next?
According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Texas had conversations with the Washington Nationals regarding reliever Tyler Clippard, someone who has come up in conversations before. He’s a soon-to-be 28-year-old right-hander who would be a great addition to the Rangers bullpen, not to mention a young reliever who can step into the eighth-inning role until Joakim Soria is ready to return to the team in late May or early June.
There’s also been talk about veteran right-hander Javier Vazquez who is still yet to sign with a new team. The Rangers had a contingent of scouts in Puerto Rico watching him pitch a few months ago, but they weren’t alone. The Washington Nationals also have big interest in him and may make the biggest push to sign him.
Another name coming up is right-hander Kyle Lohse, but he presents the same problem Bourn brings to the table: giving up a draft pick.
The Rangers still have a full list of prospects to make a big-time offer for any pitchers they could have their eyes on. David Prices has been mentioned, but that move may not be likely until possibly July and only if Tampa gets an offer they can’t possibly refuse. While Texas certainly has the players to make the Rays a legitimate offer, it doesn’t mean Tampa’s front office will be willing to deal a guy who’s coming off a Cy Young Award last season.
One other name to keep in mind is outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, who has been all but fed up with his time with the Miami Marlins, especially after they traded away players they had signed just a year earlier. However, a deal for Stanton could possibly command the biggest package of prospects we’ve seen in recent memory. Would the Rangers be willing to give up a list of five or six players to land the young outfielder? The answer to that question will bring the answer as to whether or not they have the ability to land Stanton, but only if the Marlins are willing to trade him.
There are any number of players who could be had in a trade, but we may not see any other names become available until spring training is in full swing. At that point, teams will get a glimpse of what they still need and may be more willing to deal.
With Stanton and Price unavailable, at least until July’s trade deadline, and with Bourn and Lohse costing the Rangers in the upcoming draft, is Vazquez the only name that wouldn’t cost the Rangers more than just a one-year deal? Or is there another player we don’t know about that makes more sense?