No Castellanos, No Marte; Who's Left For The Rangers?
Spring training is rapidly approaching and the Rangers are still looking to add to the roster. Two significant players they were pursuing, Nicholas Castellanos and Starling Marte, ended up at other destinations. However, the Rangers' itinerary for Surprise, Arizona isn't set just quite yet.
Jon Daniels and company could go a couple of different ways to add to the roster. First, they could look for depth – players brought in on cheap deals to deepen the bench behind the projected starters. On Thursday, they did just that by adding veteran infielder Matt Duffy on a Minor League deal.
The other way is to add an impact player via trade, which is definitely the more headline-grabbing route to take. An important note to remember when contemplating trade ideas for the more significant players, the Rangers would have to feel like they could seriously compete if they paid a hefty price for a player like that. Even some of the tier two trades could cost quite a bit.
The bottom line is, if you're getting an impact player who's an immediate starter, the cost won't be cheap. Jon Daniels has already been open about being hesitant to trade for players with minimal club control. Then again, he traded for Corey Kluber, who has only two years left.
Here are some options the Rangers are either already interested in, or could possibly kick the tires on potential trade offers.
The Pipe Dreams
Nolan Arenado: This is been the talk of the Rangers winter since his name came up after Anthony Rendon accepted the Angels' titanic offer. And until a trade is made, I fear it will not go away.
Nolan Arenado is unhappy with his current situation because of the "disrespect" Rockies' management showed him by fielding phone calls from interested trade suitors. Despite the tension between the two sides, the Rockies would still set a very high price if they seriously considered trading away their all star third baseman.
The Rangers have been one of the teams linked to the Arenado sweepstakes, but even Rangers GM Jon Daniels thinks a deal for Arenado is "unlikely." There are a number of hurdles to maneuver, most notably his opt-out after 2021. Also add in the fact that the other two main suitors, the Braves and Cardinals, have much better assets to offer the Rockies. The Rangers would be far from being the favorite.
However, the third base market took a turn with another superstar third baseman's trade stock vastly rising. Maybe the Rockies will start to seriously field offers again. Even if that does come true, an Arenado-to-the-Rangers trade is still very unlikely.
Kris Bryant: With the news of Kris Bryant's grievance being denied and that precious extra year of club control remaining intact, the rumor mill has been stirring the pot on all kinds of Bryant trade scenarios. The Rangers, still possibly looking to upgrade third base beyond Todd Frazier, who can also play first base, have already been thrust onto the Kris Bryant hot stove.
As unlikely as a Nolan Arenado trade is, a Kris Bryant trade is probably even more unlikely. Both players have only two guaranteed years of control. At least with the Arenado scenario, they can possibly negotiate with him to waive his opt-out clause. Bryant is heading to free agency in 2021, no matter what. He's also given every indication that he wants to test the market, so the possibility of locking in an extension with him is slim.
The Rangers would likely have to give up a similar package for Bryant as they would with Arenado. At least with Arenado, not only would they be getting the better player, but possibly more years of control. It's unlikely the Rangers would give up top prospects for only two years of Bryant, unless they think he puts them over the top as a World Series contender. The bottom line is, it's the same as with Arenado – it's very unlikely.
Not Pipe Dreams, But Still Unlikely
Josh Bell: The Pirates are in a unique situation. They have a completely new regime at the top, minus ownership. They don't want to completely tear down and rebuild from the ground up (yet), but they are light years behind the other teams in the N.L. Central.
While Adam Frazier is a much more likely trade candidate than Josh Bell, if the Pirates do decide to completely rebuild, Bell could be a very attractive trade candidate that would bring back quite a haul for Pittsburgh.
Bell broke out as an all star in 2019 (.277/.367/.569, 37 home runs, 116 RBI's), but fell off in the second half of the season. However, his potential was on full display and would be very attractive to teams looking for first basemen.
There's no indication that Bell is available, but it's at least worth monitoring. If the Pirates don't trade Bell before the season, revisit this in July when the Pirates may look to sell some players to contending teams.
Trey Mancini: The Orioles' situation is much more bleak than the Pirates, and are in rebuild mode. And unlike Bell, there has been some actual traction to a Trey Mancini trade. However, those rumors were much more relevant earlier in the winter. There's no indication on how available Mancini is at the moment.
Mancini is a very solid player coming off a very strong year (.291/.364/.535, 35 home runs, 97 RBI's), has three arbitration years remaining, and already has his 2020 salary figure in place ($4.75 million). If Baltimore gets serious about fielding offers, it would take a pretty serious trade package to get Baltimore to bite.
Mancini is the most likely candidate of these first four players listed, but the Rangers would have to be willing to part with a few pieces from their system, primarily from the top of the prospect pool. He would be their immediate answer at first base and would give the Rangers that other right-handed power bat in the middle of the lineup.
The Lower-Cost Options
Jackie Bradley Jr.: The Red Sox are trying to offload salary to get under the luxury tax threshold. Jackie Bradley Jr. will make $11 million in 2020 and be a free agent in 2021. That makes him an obvious trade candidate for Boston.
With this being a one-year rental, the cost for Bradley Jr. shouldn't be too substantial. Bradley Jr. would immediately upgrade the defense in center field and give the Rangers a decent bat for the end of the lineup.
The downside is Bradley Jr. would be another left-handed bat in the Rangers' lineup, his defensive metrics have slid down the past couple of seasons, and he doesn't truly upgrade the lineup offensively. Danny Santana, who looks like a far superior hitter, would then be back in his super-utility role, scrambling for at-bats.
Inciarte is coming off an injury-plagued season, only appearing in 65 games for Atlanta in 2019. If he's healthy, he would give the Rangers elite defense in center field. There would be in the same dilemma as they would be with Jackie Bradley Jr., thrusting Danny Santana back into scraping for at-bats in the super-utility role.
Unlike Bradley Jr., Inciarte is cheaper and has three more seasons of control, including a $9 million club option in 2022.
If Inciarte is healthy and can find the stroke he had in 2016-2017, he could be a very valuable find for Texas. Because of the uncertainties, the Rangers shouldn't give up too much in a potential trade.
Dominic Smith: This is the most uncertain player the Rangers could possibly be interested in. Dominic Smith is a former top prospect in the Mets organization (Baseball America's #2 Mets prospect in 2016), but has been supplanted by Pete Alonso, who ran away with the National League Rookie of the Year award.
Smith, another left-handed hitter, hadn't impressed in his first couple of stints in the big leagues in 2017-2018. He did show some promise in a smaller role with the Mets in 2019. He slashed .282/.355/.525 with 11 home runs and 25 RBI's in 89 games.
Smith is still in his pre-arbitration years and won't qualify for free agency until after the 2024 season. If the Rangers could make a deal for the right price, Smith would likely compete with Ronald Guzman for playing time at first base.
Smith is a younger player who could possibly learn to put the finishing touches under Chris Woodward's staff in Arlington. If he could reach his potential, the Rangers could get quite the find in Dominic Smith.
Who would you like to see the Rangers trade for? Leave your comment below!
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