The buzz around Major League Baseball the past few weeks has been that the Texas Rangers were looking for a top of the rotation pitcher to help solidify them as a contender for the World Series. That buzz may intensify after news broke on Monday that Colby Lewis was out for the season with a torn flexor tendon in his throwing arm. The Rangers have dealt with a ton of injuries to their starting pitching in the past six weeks. Five different starters have injury problems including Lewis, who was injured prior the season-ending tendon injury.
The loss of Colby Lewis is a very big one fore the Rangers because most people consider him to be the ace of the staff. Lewis’ stats don’t jump out at you as being that of an ace, but he is the unquestioned leader of the pitching staff and he may be the most consistent pitcher that the Rangers have. Lewis was a 1st round draft pick by the Rangers back in 1999 and was expected to do great things, but his career didn’t pan out well in Texas and he was gone in 2004. Lewis reinvented himself in Japan before returning to the Rangers in 2010 and has posted 32 wins in 3 seasons since rejoining the club. This injury hurts Lewis as much as it does the Rangers, as Lewis will certainly lose money this off-season when he becomes a free agent. He was expected to receive more than the $3M he made the past two seasons, and to this point in the season Colby was putting up pretty good numbers at 6-6 with a 3.43 ERA.
Fans have the time to digest the loss of Colby Lewis for the season and maybe forever as a Ranger but Jon Daniels and the rest of the front office don’t. The MLB trade deadline is fast approaching and will be here in only 5 days and many people believe that the Rangers will make some move to acquire a starting pitcher. Cole Hamels was believed to be the Rangers top target, but he was re-signed by the Phillies to a 6-year $144M contract. With Hamels off the market it leaves the Rangers with fewer options, but there are still some very good pitchers to be had. Let’s look at 3 pitchers who could potentially be in Arlington by next Tuesday:
Zack Greinke, Milwaukee Brewers
According to Brewers GM Doug Melvin, Greinke will “definitely” be moved before Tuesday’s trade deadline after talks completely broke down on a contract extension. Greinke is 9-3 with a 3.44 ERA this season, and the 28-year-old right-hander won the CY Young award in 2009. The only negative about Greinke is he is not under contract and he will cost a lot, potentially leaving the Rangers in the same situation they were in with Cliff Lee two years ago. Jurickson Profar is deemed “off limits” in any trade so 3B Mike Olt, SP Martin Perez, and SP Justin Grimm would be potential players leaving the Rangers in a trade for any of these pitchers.
Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies
Speaking of Cliff Lee, since the Phillies just gave Hamels $20M + per year, they are now the first team in MLB history to have 3 pitchers on a roster who all make $20M per year (joining Cliff Lee & Roy Halliday). Because of this and the fact that the Phillies are in last place in the NL East, they may want to move one of those players and Lee seems like the likely candidate. Lee was traded to the Rangers from the Seattle Mariners at the trade deadline for Justin Smoak in 2010 and he help lead the Rangers to their first World Series trip in the team history. But Lee was only a Ranger for a few short months before signing with the Phillies in the off-season; the Rangers reportedly still believe Lee is good enough to trade for him. He was said to be receiving a 5 or 6 year deal from the Rangers in the 2010 off-season and they would not even be in the middle of that deal yet. Lee is only 1-6 but has a 3.95 ERA and has pitched well behind little run support this season. He showed he can pitch in the hottest part of the year in Texas, but adding a pitcher who’s 33 and paying him $20M a year is a bit of a risk. What it would take to get Lee hasn’t been reported but he won’t be given away. Mike Olt could be a key piece in a deal to get Lee.
Josh Johnson, Miami Marlins
Josh Johnson is being dangled by the Marlins just a day after they traded superstar SS/3B Hanley Ramirez to the LA Dodgers. Johnson is only 28 years old and has put up some fantastic numbers in his career, but a bad injury last year and inconsistency this year worries some scouts. He’s 6-7 with a 4.14 ERA through 20 starts this season for a very underwhelming team. I don’t believe Johnson will be in Texas now or ever, as the Marlins front office reportedly wants a “Mark Teixeira type deal”. If you are unfamiliar with that deal here is how it went down when the Rangers traded Teixeira to the Braves in 2007:
SP Matt Harrison This season: 12-5 3.02ERA 42 wins w/ Texas
SS Elvis Andrus This season: .298BA, 111 hits, 40RBI’s,118 SB w/ Texas
SP Neftali Feliz This season: 3-1 3.16ERA , 74 saves w/ Texas
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia This season: .233BA 19HR’s, 45RBI’s with Boston
1B Mark Teixeira Time with Braves (157) .300 37HR 134RBI
The Braves got one season out of Teixeira before trading him to the LA Angels but gave up 3 all-stars to the Rangers who have given them a foundation to build the team they have now. I don’t expect the Rangers to even engage in discussions to get Johnson, as it wouldn’t make any sense.
I do expect the Rangers to make a deal and if I had to bet I think it would be for Greinke as he is the best available pitcher and the Rangers have shown they don’t mind taking chances with players who may not re-sign to try and get that elusive World Series title.
Who do you think the Rangers will trade for?