Texas Rangers’ Summer Shopping Wish List
The Texas Rangers are currently the best team in the American League. This season has been incredible thus far, even with little to no production from many expected big time contributors. Moving forward, this team must improve in several areas in order to compete for a World Series championship. Even though I believe that the Rangers will attempt to acquire a top of the rotation starter before the deadline, that isn’t the focus of this article. Every club could use another one of those. The “wish list” is one of a club that has some glaring holes needing to be plugged as the season grows deeper. I absolutely believe that this team can win a championship with the current roster (assuming a healthy Yu Darvish) if the Rangers are able to address the following needs:
“Rental” Right-Handed First Baseman:
I wanted to make sure to point out “rental” in the title of this section, because I believe that the Rangers will either have Joey Gallo or a free-agent playing 1B in 2017. Mitch Moreland has played the vast majority of games at first base for the Rangers this season to date (54/66 GS). The problem is Moreland is terrible against left-handed pitching to a tune of .226/.268/.415 (.683 OPS) . He’s been bad against righties too, but that’s an article for another day. The ‘not hitting lefties’ isn’t a problem that will resolve itself come October, when the LHP the Rangers will face will be very tough (David Price, etc). The Rangers need a RH platoon option at first base. Ryan Rua has been excellent the last few weeks, especially against lefties, but a more solid right-handed first base option must be acquired for the stretch and (hopeful) playoff run. This acquisition would let Rua settle in as the club’s fourth OF, starting against some lefties at corner outfielder, which is a nice bench weapon to have at your disposal. Here are a few options I’d like to see the Rangers acquire:
This is my pie in the sky Rangers acquisition before the MLB trade deadline. Encarnacion is a serious force in the lineup, signed only through the end of 2016. His impending free agency definitely helps to suppress the cost of acquiring EE. Adding Encarnacion of course depends on the success of the Toronto Blue Jays from now until the end of July, so keep an eye on how far back in the AL East they stand closer to the deadline. Encarnacion brings a legitimate power threat, would substantially lengthen the lineup against both RHP and LHP, and would provide bench flexibility to the roster all at the same time. Starting EE would allow Moreland to spot start against a tough RHP, come in as a 1B defensive replacement in later innings, and allow Banister to use Rua as a chess piece throughout the remainder of the season and playoffs. He wouldn’t impede any 1B plans for 2017 or beyond, although I do believe the Rangers take a long look at him this coming off-season. We are talking about one of the premier right handed bats in the entire league throughout the last five seasons. Here are Encarnacion’s stats from 2012-2015; keep in mind that he comes with a pet parrot.
|162 Game Avg.||142||28||38||106||76||84||0.274||0.370||0.549||0.91875||150|
Also signed through the end of the 2016 season, Pearce is a notorious (especially for DFS players) LHP masher. Pearce owns an impressive career slash line of .270/.353/.504 (.857 OPS) against LHP, which is what the Rangers need in order to platoon with Moreland at first base for the rest of 2016. Through his point in the year Pearce is CRUSHING lefties to a tune of .364/.462/.773 and an incredible 1.234 OPS. This is a more realistic option for the Rangers to acquire, due to the potential cost and where the selling team will likely find themselves in the standings come mid-July. Many people believed that the Rangers should have been in the mix for Pearce last winter, and a few months later it still seems a perfect fit.
Wil Myers: With the news that the Padres are “willing to trade” Myers, this is an option that must be brought up. The Rangers have no obvious first base option moving forward past the 2016 season. It doesn’t hurt that Myers has been one of the best first basemen in baseball this season (.281/.321/504 playing home games in Petco Park). Myers is also arbitration-eligible until 2020, which is of course a very attractive tidbit. That, combined with his current form, will make him a very resource expensive piece to acquire. Jon Daniels & Co. will absolutely kick the tires on adding a substantial RH piece such as Myers, with an eye on solidifying the position for the next several seasons.
The Rangers have relied heavily on Jake Diekman through the first half of the 2016 season, and for good reason. He’s one of the more dominant relievers in the majors (1.40 ERA in 31 appearances). The issue is that he’s alone out there, the only Rangers left-handed reliever currently in the Jeff Banister ‘tree of trust.’ This is a position that the front office will 100% address at the deadline. So who will the Rangers target? I’ve got a few ideas…
Doolittle is the former Athletics’ closer who came into the public eye with a fantastic 2014 season (2.73 ERA, 22 SV, 89K in 62.2 IP). His 2015 was derailed by injury, but he has regained his form this season. Featuring a high 90s fastball and a mean beard, Doolittle owns a career 10.6 K/9, a career ERA under 3.00, and has limited left-handed batters to a putrid line of .186/.220/.308 (.528 OPS). He’d be an immediate impact late inning arm, one that would relieve the pressure on Diekman being the lone lefty in the Rangers’ bullpen while giving Banister two dynamic LHP who aren’t just lefty-specialists. The cherry on top is that Doolittle is signed to an extremely team-friendly contract that runs through 2018 with team options in 2019 and 2020. He is tops on my reliever wish list.
Recently with the Tampa Bay Rays, McGee is a hard-throwing lefty closer for the lowly Rockies whose been dominant when healthy during his career. He’ll be moved before the deadline if he is able to return from the disabled list in time to prove health. With a career 2.94 ERA and a 10.7 K/9 McGee is a unique lefty is that he is a not a specialist, he actually has better career numbers against RHB. He is arbitration-eligible next season and a free-agent in 2018, so this would be a multi-year solution much like Doolittle. McGee would be an excellent addition to the Rangers bullpen; I am rooting for him to come back healthy in time to be dealt by the trade deadline.
Less desirable than the others but very cheap to acquire, Logan has found his form in 2016 with the Colorado Rockies. He boasts a career-best 1.47 ERA in 24 appearances, 10.8 K/9, and has dominated LHBs at a .100/.143/.175 (.318 OPS) rate. He was used heavily during his days with the Yankees, sporting an ERA in the mid 3.00s for a solid four-year stretch. Logan wouldn’t be my first call because he is more of a LH specialist, but a solid fallback option during a resurgence season for him.
Much like Logan, Fernando Abad is having a revitalized season with Minnesota after struggling last year for the Athletics. Abad sported a 1.57 ERA in 2014 with the A’s, and has bettered that thus far in 2016 with a 0.79 ERA through his first 27 appearances with the Twins. Abad has allowed a .100/.125/.133 (.258 OPS) slash against him in 2016. Again, like Logan, this wouldn’t be the top option because of his LH specialist qualities, but a solid back up plan if Jon Daniels fails to acquire a top notch left handed reliever.
Here is my dark-horse target for JD. Buchter has been awesome for the Padres as a 29-year-old rookie in 2016. He is cheap and controllable, but does not have much experience. The rookie compiled a 1.78 ERA with 11.0 K/9 in AAA last season, which has translated well to San Diego, where he currently sits at a 1.86 ERA with 12.6 K/9 in 31 appearances with the Friars. He’s been great against both LHB (.146/.250/.244) and RHB (.179/.288/.339), not showing the specialist qualities that restrict a manager in bullpen usage. This could be an under-the-radar low prospect-cost move by the Rangers that could pay off big time for the foreseeable future. Sign me up for some Buchter.
You’ve seen my thoughts on some holes that need to be filled by the front office before the stretch run. Do you agree? Who would you like to see the Rangers acquire? Please leave your thoughts in the comments!
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