It's the part of the year that trade rumors are more rampant than actual trades and every fan base of contending teams has dreams of their club swinging a big trade to put them over the top.
The part that's always fascinated me is how very few of these trades ever have any real substance to begin with. That isn't to say that I don't believe the Rangers have made calls to test the potential waters on Giancarlo Stanton -- because I believe they have -- but I believe that's as far as the conversation has gone. I don't believe that an offer has been made on either side, and that goes for any of the rumored trades.
The one that seems to be the most likely to happen for the Rangers is a deal for Matt Garza. Given that Garza will be essentially a rental player and that I could actually see it happening, I have a different deal in mind I'd like to address. It's more juicy, and it's gaining steam among fans who are taking sides. It's the thought that the Rangers could, were he on the market, make a deal for Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox.
On the surface, I like what Chris Sale brings to the table. His ERA is 2.85 and he can throw 4 pitches for strikes and has notched 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings so far this season. Even better, his xFIP is 2.92, so his pitching alone is good enough to not regress based on fielding. To put that in perspective, Matt Harrison had an ERA of 3.29 last season, yet his xFIP was 4.13. As a ground ball pitcher, Harrison's line looked much worse on days that the defense behind him didn't bring their best stuff.
So putting Sale into a rotation with Darvish, Holland, and a combination of Martin Perez, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, and Alexi Ogando could create a daunting rotation that is able to strike out batters, which is something that couldn't be said about the rotation going back to a year like 2009, when pitch-to-contact seemed to be the mantra.
If we like Sale, and we assume he's available on the market (possibly the biggest assumption here), we have to ask, what's he going to cost?
A potential frontline starter under the team's control through, potentially, 2019? Pitchers like that don't come cheap, and you can bet Jurickson Profar would be included in the deal, and that would just be the start. After Profar, you're talking about potentially including Mike Olt as well, and immediately your two potential offensive prospects who could be considered Major League ready are gone.
With the Rangers in a position to still contend for a World Series title now, I'm not sure the best move is to wait a few years for a new crop of potential offensive contributors to work their way through the system. Even so far this season, although the pitching injuries have mounted and been a cause for concern, it's been the inability to get a big hit late in games that has been the larger problem.
In 7 extra-innings games this season, the Rangers have won only one. The rotation and bullpen has largely kept the team in games, but when the offense goes stagnant, no one has stepped up to answer the call. A mere .500 record in those games would likely have the Rangers in first place in the AL West right now instead of 2 games back of the Oakland A's.
For comparison, I bring up one Mike Trout. Many forget that the Angels had Trout up with the team in 2011, and he mostly struggled. When he was called up in 2012, it seemed as if a light turned on, and he could have arguably been more deserving of the AL MVP award that went to Miguel Cabrera instead.
Now, I'm not saying he'll be the "next" Mike Trout, but Jurickson Profar didn't come into the season as the top prospect in baseball for no reason. What's similar is the number of plate appearances Profar has this season as compared to the number Trout had for the Angels in 2011.
Again -- at the risk of seeming like I'm indicating that we should expect Trout-like production from Profar soon, which I'm not -- I would like to point out that Profar seems to be going through somewhat of an adjustment period. Once he comes through that time, I think we'll see someone closer to above league-average offensively and, depending on his position in the field and due to his athleticism, someone that can help defensively as well.
As for the rotation? Part of me feels like contributions from returning starters from the DL could go a long way. Hold down the fort, make a run to get into the postseason, then see what happens from there. By the time the postseason arrives, it could be that a triumvirate of Darvish, Holland, and Perez, along with one other starter, would be solid enough to carry the rotation. Beyond that, it would be contingent on the bats and the bullpen to do their part, and I think the best chance of seeing that happen is to hang onto Jurickson Profar instead of paying a hefty price for another starting pitcher.