Ever since the phrase “keeping the powder dry” entered the lexicon of D/FW sports fans, it’s gained a negative connotation. It’s understandable. After their championship, the Mavericks decided to let go of key players and become Dirk Nowitzki and the Expiring Contracts, in hope that a big free acquisition would join them. The beginning of Travis’ post on Monday explains how well that approach has gone so far.
However, there is a team in D/FW that is sitting on a stockpile of powder much bigger, and much drier than the Mavericks. They’ve got their powder in Round Rock, Frisco, Myrtle Beach, Spokane and Hickory.
You’re likely familiar with Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt, the two top prospects in the Rangers’ system. Both players’ paths to MLB seem to be blocked; Profar’s impeded by Kinsler and Elvis, and Olt’s by Adrian Beltre. Profar seems untouchable, as one of the top prospects in baseball (if not the top prospect), but it seems Olt is oft-discussed in trade scenarios.
Then, you’ve got two pitching prospects, the left handed Martin Perez and righty Cody Buckel. Besides the top shortstop prospect in the game, the Rangers have two other shortstops who would be attractive in a trade package: Luis Sardinas and Leury Garcia. In a system with Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar, these two prospects look pretty expendable.
The Rangers also have a few power hitting outfielders in the system. Guys like Jairo Beras, Nomar Mazara, and Ronald Guzman are really raw, but have a lot of power potential.
If you’re interested in learning more about the players in the Rangers’ system, check out MLB.com’s review here.
The Possible Targets:
The Rangers have all the pieces to move – now it’s just up to asset allocation. There are three targets in particular I think the Rangers should have in their sights in the next year.
Justin Upton: The Rangers have been rumored to be in on Upton the entire offseason. Ken Rosenthal reported yesterday that the Rangers offered Arizona a package of Olt, either Perez or Buckel, Garcia and one other prospect. The deal has reached an impasse, with Arizona asking for more, and the Rangers refusing to budge. Don’t be surprised to hear that talks between the two teams have started again as the season draws nearer.
That the Rangers are unwilling to add to the proposed deal tells you that while they really like Upton, they’re not in love with him. Upton has had some really good seasons. In 2009, he was a 3.8 WAR (wins above replacement) player, and a 5.7 WAR player in 2011. He’s still only 25 years old (a year younger than Olt), and won’t be a free agent until 2016. There are some red flags – following both of those great statistical years, he was disappointingly average: 1.4 WAR in 2010 and 2.1 in 2012. Also, Upton has been on the trading block a few times before – why is Arizona, a team that is looking to win now, so eager to get rid of him?
These concerns are what is likely keeping the Rangers from adding more to their already healthy offering for Upton. If they’re going to trade big pieces of their farm system, they’re looking to get a huge return for their major league club.
David Price: Getting Price in Texas would definitely qualify as a huge return, but it would require a huge package of prospects going to Tampa Bay. Judging by how Price’s $10 million dollar salary was set up, it seems as though his club will be ready to deal him in 2013. What would it take for the Rangers to land the pitcher that has earned the Rays 13.2 wins above a replacement-level pitcher the past three years? It would hurt – a lot.
According to Ken Rosenthal, a trade for Price would likely require Elvis Andrus, plus Perez and Cody Buckel. I don’t think the Rangers would hesitate to make that trade, which is precisely why it wouldn’t happen – the Rays wouldn’t get enough value. Elvis becomes a free agent in two years, and his agent is Scott Boras. Tampa Bay won’t want to extend Elvis to a huge contract. No, if this deal is done, it will likely include Profar (a player who Tampa Bay can control until 2019) and one of Perez or Buckel. The Rays have no need for Olt since he’d be blocked by Evan Longoria at third base. It’s probably Profar or nothing if the Rangers are going to trade for Price.
If that’s the price for Price, a legit ace, would the Rangers pay it? Do the Rangers need an ace in an already solid rotation? Do they need an ace more than they need a power bat in the middle of their lineup? These questions will be answered in the first half of this season, and the what the Rangers do – or don’t do – at the trade deadline will tell us the front office’s evaluation of the club.
Giancarlo Stanton: Stanton is one of the premier power hitters in baseball. A staggering 29% of his fly balls leave the yard. He’s only been in MLB for three years (amassing 13 WAR in that time) and he’s hit 93 home runs. All this in a home ballpark that suppresses home runs from right handers. He doesn’t have any persistent injury problems and he’s 23 years old, under control until 2017. He’s a dream player in the flesh.
The Rangers are one of the few organizations that has the pieces to get him. In order to convince Miami to unload Stanton, it would likely cost Profar, Olt, Perez and another top pitching prospect. Basically, the top-end of the farm. Would it hurt? Oh yes. Would it make the Rangers a threat to win the World Series for the next 4 years? Yes. The Rangers’ rotation is set for the next 3-4 years with live arms, backed by the best defensive infield in baseball (as long as Elvis’ contract is extended). Add Stanton’s production to an already quality lineup, and you’ve got the makings of a monster team once again.
Adding Stanton and extending Elvis’ contract would be very expensive, but that’s the price of playing ball these days. Hopefully the Rangers’ ownership would open their pockets and the money raised by the ever-increasing price of tickets and parking at Rangers games would be put to good use.
So, there you have it. All we can do now is wait to see which target is in the Rangers’ sights if and when the dry powder is finally put to use. It’ll be interesting to see if the Rangers bet on the potential of their prospects, or trade that potential for proven professionals.