As Deadline nears, Rangers seek impact bat
Texas looking to bolster offense after adding Garza to help rotation
Lance Berkman is on the disabled list while dealing with inflammation in his left hip and chronic soreness in his right knee. There are no indications when he'll return from the DL and an announcement could be forthcoming soon that he is not returning at all the rest of this season.
Nelson Cruz has been the Rangers' leading run producer all season, but he has been linked with Major League Baseball's ongoing investigation into Biogenesis, the shuttered Miami clinic that allegedly distributed performance-enhancing drugs to a number of players. The Rangers have been bracing for a possible lengthy suspension if allegations against Cruz prove to be true. It is another announcement that could be forthcoming soon.
Beyond that, the Rangers' offense is in disarray. Through 103 games, they were hitting .241 with runners in scoring position, their lowest since 1992. Their team OPS of .736 was also their lowest in 21 years as first baseman Mitch Moreland, shortstop Elvis Andrus and left fielder David Murphy fight season-long slumps.
With all that going on with the Rangers, they are looking for offensive help as Wednesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches. It has been obvious with every story, note and rumor out there concerning the Rangers since they acquired pitcher Matt Garza from the Cubs a week ago.
"I don't know if it's out there, but we're looking for a bat to help carry the load," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said.
The load seems to be getting heavier and heavier as the season progresses, and the possibility exists the Rangers may not be able to acquire all the offensive help they need to cure what is ailing their lineup.
The clock is ticking while the Rangers round up all the usual suspects. So far everything still points to Alex Rios, the White Sox right fielder who is a complete player both offensively and defensively and is also signed through next season. The Rangers and the White Sox have had multiple discussions, but so far the asking price has been too high for Texas to bite.
That also holds true for Mets right fielder Marlon Byrd. The Rangers have also had interest in Giants outfielder Hunter Pence and Mariners designated hitter Kendrys Morales, but neither team has shown a motivation to this point to be sellers at the Deadline.
The big prize would be Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins, but the Rangers have been told Miami won't consider trading him until the offseason. Teammate Justin Ruggiano isn't considered much of a consolation prize.
There may be others who come available as the Deadline nears, but there may be other things for the Rangers to consider. For one, with all that has transpired, it may take more than just one bat to get the offense going. Secondly, the Rangers aren't exactly overflowing with higher-level prospects after trading at least four players to the Cubs last week for Garza.
Of the Rangers' Top 20 prospects, as ranked by MLB.com, only four have played in Double-A or above this season. Only one of those four -- pitcher Wilmer Font -- is active. Pitchers Roman Mendez and Neil Ramirez are on the disabled list and Cody Buckel is still trying to work out his control issues in Arizona.
The Rangers have young talent at the Major League level but aren't interested in trading away pitcher Martin Perez, infielder Jurickson Profar or outfielder Leonys Martin. Beyond that there is outfielder Engel Beltre, infielder Leury Garcia and Font to bait a trade partner looking for immediate gratification rather than prospects who may be two to three years away.
The Rangers' farm system has taken so many hits from injuries and trades the past two years that the upper levels are down in talent right now. Even if the Rangers wanted to make an impact trade, they would probably be taxed to assemble an attractive package in return without handing over either Perez, Profar or Martin.
Texas is still talking to other clubs as the Deadline approaches, and it may be able to get creative enough to make something happen. The question is if the Rangers can make enough happen to overcome all that has already happened offensively this season.
That could be a daunting task.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.