As we all know, the Rangers were one of baseball's busiest teams in July wheeling and dealing. It started on the first of July when the Rangers overpaid for acquired Bengie Molina from the Giants. The fact that Main was necessary in the trade so that San Francisco could eat salary on the trade for the bankrupt Rangers was an ominous sign as the Rangers entered July as buyers.
Just a little more than a week later, the Rangers went and dealt for the best pitcher available at the deadline and impending free agent, Cliff Lee. The price for Lee was fairly reasonable. Prized first baseman Justin Smoak was the main casualty in that deal along with minor league pitcher Blake Beaven. Still, the deal was far more palpable than the Molina trade.
The moves the Rangers made will likely be judged by how they fare in the playoffs and if Texas can win their first playoff series in franchise history. Still, how would the moves look if they were combined into one large trade?
ACQUIRED: Cliff Lee, Bengie Molina, Cristian Guzman, Jorge Cantu and minor leaguers Chris McGuinness, Roman Mendez and a PTBNL.
TRADED: Justin Smoak, Blake Beaven, Josh Lueke, Matt Lawson, Chris Ray, Michael Main, Omar Poveda, Evan Reed and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Obviously, the most impactful player coming to the Rangers this past month was Cliff Lee. I still think giving up anything for Molina is a waste of assets, but hopefully the Rangers wind up netting two first round picks next year out of it since he was on pace to be a Type A free agent. Cristian Guzman and Jorge Cantu are nice role players - but nothing more than that. Luckily, the Rangers did value them as such. Texas has essentially had a sieve offensively at first base this year. A platoon of Cantu and Moreland should remedy that. Guzman provides nice versatility and a suitable replacement for Kinsler while he's on the DL (.3 WAR so far this year, .7 in 08 and 3.1 in 07).
The Rangers managed to trade for one of the best pitchers in the league, two nice role players, a washed up gritty, gutty, veteran catcher and add a high upside arm in Mendez (see Brett's entry about him here) while not gutting their highly touted farm system. Losing Smoak will likely sting within two years if all goes well for him, but Seattle isn't a great place to hit nor is the lineup a good place to be hitting. Beaven had progressed nicely this year, but still isn't seen as a true impact talent. The Rangers dealt a slew of relievers at the deadline in Lueke, Ray and Reed. Lueke is the most interesting to me - but when the Rangers have a bullpen featuring Feliz, Francisco, Ogando, Oliver, O'Day and eventually Scheppers - are you really going to miss him? Probably not.
Saltalamacchia, along with Smoak, is the only player here I think the Rangers may wind up truly missing. And even then, it's tough to fault Daniels and co. for moving him since he's seemingly fallen out of the good graces of the Rangers and was buried on the depth chart. If given a chance in Boston with a fresh start, I do believe Salty could flourish.
Looking at the trade as one gigantic deal, I do think the Rangers came out pretty well even if they only landed one impact talent for the remainder of this year. Giving up Beaven and Main could hurt, especially since the environments they'll get to pitch in with Safeco and AT&T Park should they make it to the big leagues, but aside from that pair and Smoak, I don't think the Rangers brass or fans will look back on the players dealt and say "Son of a....what were they thinking?" Molina, Guzman and Cantu aren't going to win a championship on their own and no one is expecting them to, but they are the complentary pieces to a roster that do help win a championship.
The Rangers were aggressive at the deadline, and despite the nauseating first blush of it with the Molina trade, they came out pretty clear winners. They kept Scheppers, Perez, Holland, Profar among others and added two players who could both yield a pair of first round picks - when the Rangers can actually go over slot and draft the best talent available in the draft no less. The farm system remains strong and the major league club, as others have said, could be the best the Rangers have ever offered.
Well played, Daniels.