Could Delino DeShields Have Helped Land Cole Hamels?
Is it possible that a Rule 5 Draft pick may have played a part in altering the foreseeable future for the Texas Rangers?
On December 11th not much was made when the Texas Rangers selected former first round pick Delino DeShields Jr. from the Houston Astros in the Rule 5 Draft. Many figured that if DeShields could make the team out of Spring Training he would serve as the team’s fourth outfielder and pitch running option. Given his limited exposure to advanced minor league ball however, his spot on the roster was certainly not a guarantee.
On Tuesday night, social media lit up as it appeared that the Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies had a deal in place to send Cole Hamels to the Rangers in return for Matt Harrison and five prospects. Would this deal have been made if it weren’t for the success DeShields was having this year?
Part of the reported deal includes the Rangers sending outfield prospect Nick Williams to the Phillies. Williams was rated the 71st overall prospect by Baseball Prospectus prior to 2015 and is currently the Rangers 5th best prospect in their minor league system. According to the Rangers website, “[ the Rangers’] system features several high-ceiling position players, and [Williams] has been the most consistently productive of the bunch”. Some speculated that Williams could have been in Arlington as early as next year if not sooner and through 96 games this year with Frisco, he has posted a slash of .300/.357/.480. But what does this have to do with DeShields?
As DeShields continues to make strides at the plate this season, he essentially allows the Rangers some flexibility with their outfielders. At the current moment, the Rangers have all of their major league outfielders under team control for the foreseeable future. Barring any trades the team will head into 2016 trying to sort out roster spots and playing time for Shin-Soo Choo, Josh Hamilton, Leonys Martin and DeShields not to mention top outfield prospect Nomar Mazara. Joey Gallo potentially could be in that mix as well if they cannot find a spot for him in the infield and the outfield logjam piles up fairly quick. If DeShields would have been overwhelmed by big league competition for a sustained period of time, who knows if last night’s trade gets pulled off? With Texas reportedly unwilling to part with top prospects Gallo and Mazara, one could argue that the team needed to include Williams to complete the deal. If Texas did not have confidence in DeShields for the long term, maybe they would be reluctant to include Williams in any trade talks. In turn, it would be hard to see Philadelphia agreeing to a trade in which Texas only parts with two of their top ten prospects.
Obviously this is only speculation and we will never know how the trade discussions planned out. Maybe Texas’ front office thought Williams was expendable regardless of what was happening at the major league level? What we do know is that the Rangers won the Hamels sweepstakes and it is hard to be upset about that.