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Evaluating a Busy Trade Deadline for the Texas Rangers

Evaluating a Busy Trade Deadline for the Texas Rangers

August 1st passed, and doors close for trades. These are the rosters teams will work with for the final months of the 2023 season (unless free agents sign, of course). The Rangers completed four notable trades within the last thirty days of the trade deadline, kicking off things on June 30th with Kansas City by acquiring Aroldis Chapman. After a four-week lull and days before the conclusion, the Rangers made another splash to bolster their rotation. Let’s look at each of these trades.

Rangers acquire Max Scherzer and cash considerations from the New York Mets in exchange for minor league INF Luisangel Acuña (July 30th)

The creme de la crème for the Rangers in 2023. The hope is that Max Scherzer does not finish 2023 with an ERA of 4.00 for the first time since 2011. The home runs bit him hard in New York, and he even commented how he, along with the rest of the group, troubled the Mets in 2023. Even though he’s reaching 40, he strikes fear into hitters. He’s picked up 121 strikeouts in 107.2 innings, but it’s a strikeout/walk ratio targeting the lowest since 2020. The numbers say it’s been a bad year (by Max Scherzer standards), but the hope is a new location and being on a pennant-chasing team will rejuvenate the spark in Scherzer’s performance. The downside to this trade is the Rangers did have to give up a highly touted prospect in Luisangel Acuña. However, with Marcus Semien and Corey Seager in long-term contracts, Acuña would have had to wait a while or change positions to grasp the big leagues fully. With the Mets eating a portion of Scherzer’s contract, it’s a deal that makes you feel good as a Rangers fan. Here’s hoping it pays off.

Rangers acquire LHP Jordan Montgomery, RHP Chris Stratton, and international pool money from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for LHP John King, minor league INF Tommy Saggese, and minor league RHP T.K. Roby (July 30th)

This trade came down moments after more detail hit on Nathan Eovaldi’s situation. Eovaldi hit the 15-Day injured list with a forearm strain (more toward the elbow). The good news is that the anticipation is only a few weeks but pitchers with elbow/forearm issues always cause concern. That said, Jordan Montgomery adds another left-handed starter to the rotation and likely takes Andrew Heaney or Martín Pérez out of the rotation and into the bullpen. Since 2021, Montgomery has been a solid starter for both the Yankees and Cardinals and a reliable one when it comes to durability, something the Rangers have struggled with a little bit in 2023 (deGrom, Gray, Eovaldi). The strikeout numbers sit by side with Heaney and Eovaldi, but the key is that he doesn’t walk many hitters.

Chris Stratton is a nice little pickup for the Rangers. He had a great stretch run for St. Louis in 2022 but couldn’t duplicate that in 2023 (2.78 ERA in 20 appearances for the Cardinals). The hope is another trade will bring that success back. He’s got a good spin on his off-speed pitches with a low-90s fastball. I wouldn’t suspect him as top of the closer list, but the key is finding that bridge to get to Chapman and Smith. If Stratton is that guy, it’s a good trade.

Rangers acquire catcher Austin Hedges from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for International Pool money (August 1st).

Austin Hedges is notorious for being a valued defensive catcher. Hedges ranks first in MLB in catcher framing runs which converts strikes to runs saved (10). He ranks third in blocks above average and is third in strike percentage behind two San Francisco Giants. Hedges’ season behind the plate is as good if not better than Jonah Heim’s, but there’s the downside, the offense. In 56 games with the Pirates, Hedges is hitting .180 with six extra-base hits and doesn’t draw many walks, either. He’s in his ninth season with a career average of .189, but his work behind the plate may be a great replacement in the ninth inning of a crucial game. General Manager Chris Young said that the Rangers might carry three catchers when Hedges arrives, which means Mitch Garver will likely play every day and get more designated hitter reps while limiting Sam Huff’s workload. Remember, the Rangers didn’t break the bank big time to get Hedges. Therefore, it was a decent trade from Texas’ side.

Rangers send right-hander Spencer Howard to the New York Yankees for cash considerations (August 1st).

Many of us knew that once everyone arrived, Spencer Howard was on the brink of being designated for assignment. Instead of outright DFA’ing him, the Rangers decide if a team will give him a fresh start in exchange for some money. The Yankees’ trade deadline adventures proved to be the most mind-boggling, with little buying and selling, but the one move they made was receiving Howard from the Rangers. Fingers crossed, things go better for Howard in New York than it did for Joey Gallo. I will miss personality though, it’s one of a kind.

Rangers acquire LHP Aroldis Chapman from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for LHP Cole Ragans and minor league OF Roni Cabrera (June 30th).

The Rangers were early to the party in late June. They identified a significant issue (bullpen) and acted on it immediately. Chapman has been the Ranger’s best reliever in the past month (Will Smith may have something to say about that, though). In nine outings, Aroldis has struck out at least one batter in each outing and only faced more than five hitters once. Unfortunately, that once came against the Houston Astros, but he’s been dominant in eight of nine appearances for Texas. I’ll take that ratio any day, and he’s already breaking Texas Rangers team records.

All in all, the Rangers dealt seven players within the last month and, as you would expect, a few more considerable prospects (in Acuña and Saggese). However, the Rangers’ farm system remains loaded for another year, and the rotation stacks well, especially when Eovaldi returns. Another key is that Texas retains Scherzer for next season, so think about a rotation with Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Nathan Eovaldi, and Jon Gray. It’s a fearful thought. The Rangers finish the deadline with all the pieces in the box; now it’s time to assemble the puzzle.

Credentialed Media Staff Writer covering the Texas Rangers for Dallas Sports Fanatic | 2014 University of North Texas graduate with a Bachelor's in Radio, Television, and Film. I talk about things. Find me on the tweeter @aplinckTX

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