The Texas Rangers enter the mythical second half of the 2017 baseball season just three games out of a Wild Card spot, despite what can best be described as an up and down first half. Texas will open the second half this evening with a ten game, ten day road trip with stops in Kansas City, Baltimore and Tampa Bay.
All three teams the Rangers will face over the next ten days are squarely in the hunt for one of the two Wild Card spots. KC is currently one and a half games back, Baltimore is four games back, and Tampa Bay is presently tied with New York for the lead in the Wild Card race.
Texas finds themselves in an interesting position as the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline rapidly approaches. General Manager John Daniels has been non-committal on where exactly the front office stands over the past few weeks. Many have speculated that the Rangers will be sellers this July, and that idea certainly has merit. Although Texas is squarely in the chase for a playoff birth, the team has yet to live up to its lofty pre-season expectations. The question still remains, even with more consistent starting pitching and a more reliable bullpen, should the Rangers still be considered a threat to make the playoffs, let alone make a deep run?
If the front office thinks the answer is no, there are a number of valuable pieces the team can move in an effort to bolster a farm system that has been ravaged over the last few years. Yu Darvish and Jonathan Lucroy are among the best in the bigs at their respective positions, and both are scheduled to hit free agency at the end of this year. Shin-Soo Choo would make a welcome addition to anyone’s lineup, and Texas has recently admitted that they are even listening in on offers for Cole Hamels.
But some feel like the Rangers may be one or two good additions away from being one of the top five teams in the American League. As previously mentioned, Texas sits just three games out of a playoff spot, and the team has blown a league high 17 saves so far this season. A number of veteran relievers have been linked to the Rangers in potential trades, and Texas is expected to listen to all offers, especially regarding the bullpen. However, top-tier relievers may be hard to find this year unlike last year when the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs acquired Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, respectively. Which begs the question, is it worth parting with one of your top prospects for a marginal improvement to the bullpen?
Because the Rangers will be facing three of its primary competitors for one of the Wild Card spots, the next ten days looms large for this club. John Daniels and company will not have much time following the road trip to make a decision on where this team stands heading into to the trade deadline. If Texas can manage to take six or seven on the trip, and look good doing it, the Rangers will be buyers by July 31st. If they come out of the gates slow and fail to capitalize on their momentum leading up to the All-Star break, it could be time to say goodbye to Yu Darvish as a Ranger.
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