The Rangers are tied for first place in the American League West entering Thursday's action. But they’re only 2½ games from being out of the playoffs entirely and the American League East is likely to keep that wild card chase close.
Needs (likelihood to deal for position in italics)
Starting pitching-Medium: The Rangers are in the middle of the pack in ERA, but you have to remember that they play in a very hitter-friendly park. The problem with their rotation has been injuries. Yu Darvish and Derek Holland have been reliable and Alexi Ogando has been great when he's pitched (he's on the disabled list for another 10 days or so). But Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz have all been hurt and may not be back until August and it's unclear what role Feliz would have anyway. The Rangers have brought up Martin Perez, who has been good in a couple of starts, and are trying to survive with Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm at the other two spots. Can the Rangers wait until August to get most of their guys back? If not, they need to make a move here for quality, and quickly.
Right Field-Low: Nelson Cruz is out there as of right now and he's having a good season. But he also could be suspended any minute for his involvement in the BioGenesis scandal. The Rangers will probably hold off to make a deal here and even if Cruz is suspended, Jurickson Profar is a wild card who gives them options.
Left Field-Low: The usually solid David Murphy has been bad so far this year in left field. Jeff Baker has stepped in and done his usual thing against left handed pitching (mash it). I doubt they make a move here and again, Profar as the wild card gives them options.
Fits on the Cub Roster
If they look for a starter, the Cubs have a lot of options. Not convinced those guys come back from injury and want a stud? Matt Garza is your guy. Don't want to spend too much, but want insurance in case those guys don't get fully healthy? Scott Feldman is available, although it's unclear if his old team would be interested. Looking for an even cheaper option that could be a short term fix and then slide into the pen easily if needed? Carlos Villanueva fits that to a T. It's hard to tell what the Rangers will do if there's a suspension to Cruz, but if they want a true outfielder, Nate Schierholtz, David DeJesus and Alfonso Soriano could be options (although Murphy would have to move to right for Alf). Those three could also spell David Murphy in RF or Lance Berkman at designated hitter.
What's in it for the Cubs?
Ranked the second- and third-best organization for talent by Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America, respectively, the Rangers have great depth in their system even with Jurickson Profar graduating. We'll start with position prospects and third baseman Mike Olt, who was rumored to be a piece coming to the Cubs last year for Matt Garza. After a miserable start to the season where Olt fought vision problems, he's come on of late and is looking back to being his old self. Leonys Martin was promoted this year and is now the Rangers' starting center fielder, so it's unlikely he's available. Luis Sardinas is another in a long line of highly touted Rangers' shortstop prospects, but he's struggled at high A this year (although he's very young for the level). Jorge Alfaro is a very young, toolsy and raw catcher that could be an interesting guy to pick up.
As for pitchers, Martin Perez and Justin Grimm are both plugging holes in the Rangers rotation right now, but were highly sought after prospects coming into the year. Perez was great at 22 in Triple-A before his call up and has been great in the bigs in 2 starts since his promotion. Grimm has been almost exclusively in the majors this year and has gotten roughed up quite a bit (5.57 ERA). Cody Buckel is a 21-year-old that was successful last year at double-A (3.78 ERA), but has gotten absolutely annihilated this year at Double-A (20.25 ERA in six appearances covering just 9⅓ innings. No, not a typo). Luke Jackson is a 21-year-old at High-A that's posted a 2.56 ERA and averaged almost 10K/9, but he may be getting a bit lucky (3.69 FIP).
Overall Fit- Low
When I started this article, I thought they'd show to be a great fit. But if their rotation comes back healthy, do they really need a starter? Darvish, Holland, Harrison and Ogando is an excellent front four. Do they really need any of the Cubs outfielders? If Jon Daniels decides he wants to be aggressive and go for it, the Cubs have the top flight pitching that would interest them. If not, they really don't have any other matches. Let's hope they go for it because their farm system has a ton of interesting guys in it and almost all of them could be available.
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