Posted on August 1, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
On paper, the Texas Rangers may be the biggest winners of the MLB non-waiver trade deadline. In the final hours before the deadline, the Rangers acquired outfielder Carlos Beltran, catcher Jonathan Lucroy, and reliever Jeremy Jeffress. Perhaps even more impressively, they made the moves without giving up much coveted power hitter Joey Gallo or much coveted infielder Jurickson Profar.
The first trade the Rangers made Monday was with the New York Yankees, acquiring Beltran in exchange for minor league pitchers Dillon Tate, Erik Swanson, and Nick Green. The second trade was with the Milwaukee Brewers, acquiring Lucroy and Jeffress for minor league outfielder Lewis Brinson and minor league pitcher Luis Ortiz.
The addition of Beltran and Lucroy radically change the look of the Rangers lineup. Beltran is expected to get most of his at bats with Texas as a designated hitter, filling the void left by Prince Fielder, who required season-ending neck surgery. The Rangers also have the option of playing Beltran in right field some days and shifting Nomar Mazara to left field, allowing either Gallo or Profar to be the DH. Texas is also expecting Shin-Soo Choo to be activated from the DL within the next week, giving the Rangers another option in the outfield.
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Lucroy, meanwhile, gives the Rangers an impact player behind the plate after getting little offense from the catcher position for much of the season. The Rangers aren’t exactly starved for offense at the moment, but the trades for Lucroy and Beltran will add two all-stars to a lineup that already includes the likes of Ian Desmond, Adrian Beltre, Elvus Andrus, Rougned Odor, Mazara, and others.
The acquisition of Jeffress should not be overlooked either. The Rangers have searched for a starting pitcher to help bolster their rotation amidst a multitude of injuries, but a late-inning reliever like Jeffress should make an impact. Jeffress has 27 saves in 28 opportunities with the Brewers this season, while posting a 2.22 ERA. He is likely to step in as the Rangers new closer, providing a big boost to one of the worst bullpens in baseball.
Meanwhile, both the Yankees and Brewers seem to have made out well in their dealings with the Rangers. For the Yankees, Tate is the biggest prize, as he was the 4th overall pick in last year’s draft. He has struggled this season, as his velocity is reportedly down and the results are not what many expected, but his ceiling remains high. Swanson and Green are both A-ball level pitchers who are years away from the majors but both have the potential to become major league caliber pitchers.
As for the Brewers, they will receive both Brinson and Ortiz, the Rangers two best prospects outside of Gallo and Profar. Brinson is a five-tool player, and despite putting up modest numbers at double-A this season, he has the talent to become one of the best center fielders in baseball a few years down the line. Ortiz is currently on the DL with a groin strain after earning a promotion to double-A earlier this year. His fastball and slider are both considered plus pitches, giving him the chance to develop into a no. 2 or no. 3 caliber starter.
Of course, the most important aspect of these trades is the Rangers acquisition of Beltran, Lucroy, and Jeffress. Texas did not get the starting pitcher they needed, but the Rangers did improve their bullpen and drastically improved an already strong lineup. The Rangers hold a six game lead atop the AL West, and these moves should help Texas secure a division title, and possibly make them the top favorite to win the American League in 2016.