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Rangers trade deadline preview: Needs, targets and more for the AL West leaders

We go over the Rangers’ team needs and some potential targets ahead of the MLB trade deadline on August 1.

Adolis Garcia of the Texas Rangers celebrates with Leody Taveras after hitting a home run during the eighth inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Globe Life Field on July 14, 2023 in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images

It’s safe to say this season has gone about as well as the Texas Rangers could’ve possibly hoped so far. A year after losing 94 games, Texas finds itself three games up on the Houston Astros in the AL West, owners of the fourth-best record in all of baseball. The lineup is among the deepest and most dangerous in the game, while several starters have stepped up in the absence of the injured Jacob deGrom.

Of course, now comes the really hard part: It’s one thing to put yourself in a position to contend, but it’s quite another to make sure your team is ready to go toe-to-toe with the game’s other heavyweights come October. This trade deadline season is the biggest in Texas in quite some time; what might GM Chris Young have in store, and who might he target? Let’s break it all down.

Rangers trade deadline preview

Needs

We can safely say what isn’t a need for this Rangers team: offense. Every single regular has an OPS+ of 114 or better — the worst of the bunch is Marcus Semien, who was literally an All-Star this year. Sure, you might not fully trust Ezequiel Duran as a full-time DH, but this team is second only to the Atlanta Braves in runs scored and team OPS; they’ve got firepower for days.

The pitching staff, however, is another matter. Texas ranks in the top five in starter’s ERA, but the rotation is a bit sketcher than that number would suggest. Martin Perez and Andrew Heaney have struggled all year, and with deGrom out for the year, the Rangers find themselves relying an awful lot on Nathan Eovaldi and Jon Gray — two guys who’ve struggled to stay healthy and pitch at a high level consistently throughout their careers. They’ve been great so far, but do you really want to head into a postseason series with Eovaldi, Gray and Dane Dunning starting Games 1-3? (With a bullpen ERA that ranks 25th in baseball, this team could also use another reliever despite already adding Aroldis Chapman.)

Potential Targets

Lance Lynn, Chicago White Sox

How about a reunion? Lynn was sensational in his two seasons in Texas, pitching to a 139 ERA+ with two top-six finishes in AL Cy Young voting. His numbers this year are far uglier (6.18 ERA, 1.44 WHIP), but with the White Sox almost certainly selling at this year’s deadline, plenty of teams still figure to be interested in the pending free agent’s services. Lynn still possesses big-time strikeout stuff (84th-percentile whiff rate, 75th-percentile K rate), and when he’s on, he’s capable of dominating: He threw seven innings of one-hit ball while striking out 11 against the Toronto Blue Jays at the start of July, and struck out a whopping 16 Seattle Mariners earlier this year.

Kendall Graveman, Chicago White Sox

If you’re already on the phone with Chicago, why not also inquire about Graveman? The righty is just one of many relievers who figures to be on the block on the South Side (Joe Kelly, Keynan Middleton) and he’s been solid as the fill-in closer for Liam Hendriks, pitching to a 3.00 ERA with eight saves.

Jordan Montgomery, St. Louis Cardinals

Texas could use a more reliable lefty look in their rotation, and the former Yankee Montgomery is intimately familiar with what it takes to survive in the AL. With the 30-year-old set to hit free agency this winter, the Cardinals figure to be moving on as they look to retool their rotation for 2024 and beyond. Montgomery’s been a very underrated pitcher for pretty much his entire career, posting a 139 OPS+ this year with St. Louis and a 114 mark in eight years as a big leaguer.

Tommy Pham, New York Mets

Of course, if the Rangers did go looking for a bench bat, Pham might be a good fit as a righty who can spell left fielder Travis Jankowski against tough lefties and draw starts at DH. The free agent-to-be is having a career year, slashing .272/.356/.475, and dealing him could be a way for the Mets to recoup some value without blowing things up altogether.

Trade chips

Texas now boasts one of the deeper farm systems in the game, with plenty of potential pieces to help get a deal done — highlighted by the biggest fish, this year’s No. 4 overall pick Wyatt Langford out of Florida. Even if Langford is off the table, there are other options: Outfielder Evan Carter is a consensus top-50 prospect who’s hitting very well at Double-A right now, Owen White is an intriguing righty and infielder Justin Foscue just continues to hit at every level. Foscue could be particularly intriguing, as Semien and Rookie of the Year candidate Josh Jung figure to block his path to playing time in Texas.