The Texas Rangers have already made pitching a priority in the offseason. However, they likely will not trade for Chris Sale this offseason.
If the 2016 Texas Rangers postseason showed anything, it’s that the Rangers could always use starting pitching help. They made their first move of the offseason in November by signing veteran RHP Andrew Cashner for $10 million. While many questioned that move, a trade for southpaw Chris Sale might garner a better reception.
But according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Jeff Wilson, Texas isn’t seeking a trade for the lefty anymore. Wilson reported via Twitter on Sunday afternoon that Jon Daniels stated the Rangers “aren’t looking for trades like the Cole Hamels deal.”
Consequently, connecting the dots leads to the assumption that they will not make a trade this offseason for a big-name starting pitcher. But Daniels is crafty. He’s a chess player. There are really two ways to take this statement.
The Rangers are not going to trade for Sale
If you take the statement at face-value, Texas is out on Sale. There’s no question he’s been one of the American League’s best pitchers over the past few seasons. He’s finished in the top five in Cy Young voting for four straight seasons and has appeared in five straight All-Star games. In 2015 he featured a league-best 2.78 FIP and averaged a dominant 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings.
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Because of this, Sale will come at a steep price. While they have a solid farm system, there are not many pieces available that Daniels would be willing to forfeit for Sale.
Joey Gallo could be available. But because of his propensity for the strikeout, he’s not a big enough piece. Another option is Jurickson Profar, but he may be needed at first base to fill the void left by the departure of Mitch Moreland.
But perhaps there is actually more at play here. Maybe Daniels has some tricks up his sleeve. Albeit, this isn’t a game of poker here. After all, the stakes are a tad higher.
The Rangers are bluffing
Sure, this may be some major conspiracy theory, foil over the outlets type of thinking, but maybe Daniels is trying something. Saying Texas isn’t “looking for trades like the Cole Hamels deal,” could be exactly what a team looking for trades like the Cole Hamels deal would say to the public. Could this be a ploy to throw opposing general managers off the scent?
There are some pieces within the Rangers farm system worthy of bringing in a talent like Sale. Second baseman Andy Ibanez might be enticing and available. The Rangers have plenty of talent in the middle infield. Ibanez is expendable for a pitcher like Sale.
The Rangers will still make moves
Truth be told, this is all speculation and the former is most likely. But, this doesn’t mean the offseason will be dead for the Rangers. With Spring Training still over 80 days away, a lot can happen. While Sale might not be the next player to come to Arlington, Daniels has named starting pitching as a priority.
Considering he’s led this team to two AL championships, four AL West titles and five playoff appearances in the past seven seasons, he gets the benefit of the doubt. But without a World Series championship, that benefit gets a bit smaller each season.
When the Rangers break camp in February, there will be new faces. Hopefully they’ll be welcome faces. But as long as they’re talented, who cares what their faces look like?