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Woodward Wants Rangers To 'Play With Their Hair on Fire'

The watchword is 'opportunity' as Woodward says these Texas Rangers have two months to show the organization 'I belong'

ARLINGTON, Texas — The trade deadline is done. The mood in the clubhouse for the Texas Rangers is a bit more relaxed. Manager Chris Woodward seems all right with that. But, for the next two months, he wants his players to do one more thing.

“I expect our team to play with their hair on fire the rest of the way,” Woodward said before Saturday’s game with Seattle.

The Rangers have undergone a makeover in the past several days. The Rangers traded away Joey Gallo for a passel of prospects from the New York Yankees. The Rangers traded pitcher Kyle Gibson, along with Ian Kennedy and Hans Crouse to Philadelphia for three prospects, including the Phillies’ No. 1-ranked prospect (preseason), pitcher Spencer Howard.

Gallo and Gibson were two of the Rangers’ three All-Stars this season. The third, Adolis García, is having a breakout year as a rookie. García, along with shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa, qualify as the building blocks for this franchise, as far as position players go.

But by dealing Gallo and Gibson, the organization signaled that they are truly committed to the rebuilding of this franchise, and from this point forward they’ll basically do it from the studs.

There’s a watchword the rest of this season, and Woodward said it several times on Saturday:

“Opportunity.”

“We’ve got two months of games left,” Woodward said. “We’ve said all along that this is a tremendous opportunity. The trade deadline is over. Heads aren’t spinning anymore. Some (players) were upset. They didn’t like seeing their teammates (Gallo and Gibson) go. Now we have to get back to playing baseball. This is invaluable experience for these guys, to show us what they can do, and someone has to rise up right now. 

"There are jobs on the line that they can take. It’s up to them. At no point have we made our roster for next year. They have a chance to say, ‘I belong.’”

Figuring out ‘who belongs’ is easier said than done. The Rangers have made it clear since Day 1 of this season that they’re rebuilding with the intention of contending. As our Chris Halicke wrote after the Gallo trade:

With the Rangers now trading away their best player, the biggest question now becomes when the club can realistically contend once again. Daniels, general manager Chris Young and the rest of the management group believe they are on the right track to building something special.

"We have two real assets in terms of putting a championship club back on the field that our fans deserve, our market deserves, our ownership deserves," Daniels said. "One is building an elite farm system. The other is that we don't have much future financial obligations."

Daniels added, "We feel like this accelerated things for us, not the other way around."

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This idea of ‘acceleration’ hinges more on what lies below the surface of this organization, rather than what fans are seeing every day at Globe Life Field.

Yes, García and Kiner-Falefa are building blocks. They are solid players that can serve as the backbone of this team for the next few years ahead. The rest of the 26-man roster? There’s nothing there that seems untouchable.

But, down on the farm, the Rangers have a significant group of talent. Catcher Sam Huff is hitting tape-measure home runs. Third baseman Josh Jung probably would have made the team had he not gotten hurt in Spring Training. Cole Winn is the top-rated pitcher in the organization. All three are at Double-A Frisco, just waiting for a spot to open up, perhaps as soon as September when rosters expand. Eleven of the Rangers’ Top 30 MLB prospects are at Double-A or higher. That bodes well, assuming the majority of those prospects become something.

Plus, Justin Foscue is lighting up High-A Hickory, where he just wrapped up a stretch with a home run in eight straight games.

For Gallo, the Rangers received four prospects — shortstop Josh Smith (No. 7), Ezequiel Duran (No. 8), second baseman Trevor Hauver (No. 19) and right-handed pitcher Glenn Otto (No. 26) — that all landed on the Rangers’ Top 30 prospects list.

For Gibson, the Rangers got Howard, and he will likely make his Rangers debut sometime this week. RHP Kevin Gowdy and RHP Josh Gessner were the other prospects, but they were not considered Top 30 prospects for Philadelphia.

Plus, there is first-round pick Jack Leiter, who won't pitch this season but will probably top the Top 30 list immediately once he does.

But that’s the future. The farm is at least a year or two away from making the parent club. Woodward’s talk of “opportunity” is about the players who are in Arlington now — and whether they’ll be here next year.


READ MORE: Rangers GM Chris Young Helped Make Jack Leiter's Road To Texas 'Extremely Special'

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You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.