As the MLB trade deadline draws closer, teams in the mix are deciding whether they will continue to press towards the playoffs, or sell off their assets in an attempt to rebuild for future seasons. The Texas Rangers are one of those teams that are at a crossroads, as reports have emerged that they are pondering both options while pulling into a Wild Card spot, against the odds.
It's entirely possible that the way the Rangers are playing, they could make a push towards the playoffs, but they'll need some help. Jon Morosi stated in a tweet that the Rangers are evaluating controllable starters, which seems about right, given their very inconsistent rotation. These targets could make perfect sense for Texas as we draw towards midsummer.
4. Sonny Gray
It seems like all Sonny Gray needed was a change of scenery. Since being traded from the New York Yankees to the Cincinnati Reds, Gray has posted a 3.65 ERA, with 71 strikeouts in 66 innings. He's pitched much better than even those numbers suggest, as he sports a 3.01 FIP. Gray's $30 million extension over the next three seasons is a big hurdle here; after all, it was negotiated so Gray could be a leader of the rebuild, not another casualty of it. With his pitching experience in the AL West, it wouldn't be entirely surprising for the Rangers to explore a trade here, if the Reds believe their nebulous non-contention could be extended by selling high on Gray.
3. Will Smith
Will Smith has been one of the San Francisco Giants' best relievers ever since he was traded to the team in 2016. Smith is in the midst of a career year, posting a 2.19 ERA with a 12.77 K/9, and has not blown a single save on the year. Considering that Smith will be a free agent at the end of the year, it won't take nearly as much as it would to get a controllable reliever, so the Rangers are likely doing extensive research on the closer.
2. Marcus Stroman
Marcus Stroman wanted an extension with the Toronto Blue Jays, but it seems like the feeling isn't mutual. On the year, Stroman has posted a 3.31 ERA with a 3-8 record. He's not much of a strikeout guy, but has limited the number of hits allowed to 8.8 per nine innings, the lowest since his rookie year. Texas has posted the 12th best fielding percentage in baseball, which means he could be a solid fit due to his groundball-heavy style. Stroman comes with team control through the 2020 season, which is likely to be very enticing for the Rangers, but will also cost quite a bit. It may pay off, however, as he carries himself as a pitcher who could deliver in a big game.
1. Felipe Vazquez
Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Felipe Vazquez has arguably been one of the best closers in baseball in 2019, with 15 saves and a 2.30 ERA to his name, to go with 43 strikeouts in 27.1 innings pitched. The Rangers are in desperate need of a closer, as their hopes for Jose Leclerc have not come to fruition. Vazquez is locked up until he's 31-years-old, so it's very likely that any deal he's involved in won't be a cheap one, but it would be worth it.