The Texas Rangers are leaning towards buying at this year’s trade deadline, and are interested in upgrading both their starting rotation and bullpen, according to a report from MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Texas is specifically “evaluating controllable starters,” as they currently hold a playoff spot in a wide open American League Wild Card race.
Naturally, this need for pitching help makes the Tigers a good fit. Texas’ rotation has been solid this year, with a 102 ERA- equal to Detroit’s, and their 4.55 FIP is nearly a half run lower than their ERA on the season. But like the Tigers, Texas’ rotation is rather top-heavy. Lance Lynn and Mike Minor have been excellent, producing a combined 5.0 fWAR in 17 starts between them. Adrian Sampson has also put up solid numbers, flipping between the rotation and bullpen.
Beyond that? The Rangers need help. Both Shelby Miller and Drew Smyly have been below replacement level starters, and they have turned to seven other pitchers to start games for them in 2019 (including former Tigers farmhand Kyle Dowdy).
But while Matthew Boyd fits that “controllable starter” moniker to a tee — he won’t be a free agent until after the 2022 season — the two sides might not be a great fit. Texas’ farm system ranked 25th on Baseball America’s organizational list at the start of the year, and many of their top prospects have gotten off to poor starts in 2019. While stat lines aren’t everything in the scouting world, both Bubba Thompson nor Julio Pablo Martinez (two of Texas’ top prospects) have taken steps back after successful 2018 seasons.
Others, like outfielder Leody Taveras and starter Hans Crouse, could make for a nice package for Boyd. However, the Tigers will likely be hoping for more than one back-end top-100 player — Crouse per MLB Pipeline and Baseball America, Taveras per Baseball Prospectus — in return for Boyd, who has been one of the best starters in baseball this year.
Either of those players might make for a solid package for Greene, whose value will not be any higher than at this year’s deadline. Greene has allowed a 1.04 ERA and 0.81 WHIP in 26 innings this year, and leads the American League with 19 saves. His 27.5 percent strikeout rate and 20.6 percent K-BB% are both career bests, and he is under club control through the 2020 season.
The Tigers will almost surely move Greene at the deadline, and the Rangers’ bullpen could use him as badly as any other club around the game. While Texas’ bullpen has put up solid numbers on the whole, they have struggled to close out games this year. Righthander Jose Leclerc started the year as the team’s closer, but blew a couple of saves in April before being replaced by Shawn Kelley. However, the veteran righthander has also faltered, blowing three save opportunities since May 25.
Plugging Greene into that role could be the answer for the Rangers. It would (presumably) solve their closer woes, as well as put Leclerc, Kelley, and others into middle relief and setup roles, helping Texas to shorten games for their shallow rotation.
What do you think?
What would a solid trade package look like for Boyd or Greene at the deadline?