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Why the Texas Rangers should be sellers at the trade deadline if they don't change things

ARLINGTON – They are not salespeople. At least not yet.

More like a prepper.

The Rangers know their situation. They know it's getting worse by the day. On Saturday, however, Rangers GM Chris Young said the same thing he's been saying for weeks. He believes the Rangers are better than their record. He's aware of the record, what it means and what long-term impact it could have. But he's not there yet. At least he wasn't on Saturday morning.

“I believe in this team,” he said. “I believe they have the ability to make a run. We just need to put ourselves in a better position so nothing is insurmountable. This team had a 40-20 run last year. It's in there.”

Forget 60-game series for now. If the Rangers don't win about 70% of their next 20 games, it's probably time to make a move. How difficult will that be? Their 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay on Saturday, which came on a two-out, two-run Marcus Semien home run in the seventh inning, gave them four wins in their last six games. Fine, but they'd still have to go 10-4 to have a .700 winning percentage for a 20-game series. They haven't gone better than 12-8 in any series this year.

They will need to show something in 2024 that they haven't shown yet to force Young to tell interested callers that he might get in touch with them.

“I don't think anyone here is unaware of our situation,” said Saturday's starter Andrew Heaney. “Winning one out of three games is not enough, winning two out of three games is barely enough. We need to win more games.”

How could the Texas Rangers approach the MLB transfer deadline? This is what Chris Young says

If the Rangers can't turn things around quickly, a sale makes sense for many reasons. First, they would have some attractive players for serious contenders. Second, they could better allocate their resources for 2025, which would be necessary if the local TV revenue mess isn't resolved. If owner Ray Davis wasn't willing to raise salaries significantly after a World Series win because of the uncertainty surrounding TV revenue, why would he do so after a losing streak?

On Saturday, Young did not want to comment on salary implications or possible trade items. As he said, he is not ready for that yet.

The potentially good news for the Rangers is that they may have the tools to make up for the talent drain caused by last season's wave of trades. They just need to look within themselves for inspiration. In a thin pitcher market last year, the Rangers paid a high price for a starter-reliever package that landed them postseason star Jordan Montgomery from St. Louis.

The Rangers may have an even better package to offer prospective buyers: Nathan Eovaldi and a veteran reliever for the back row of the bullpen such as David Robertson or Kirby Yates. All three are free agents after the season. Eovaldi set a record for wins in a single postseason last year. He would pitch in a playoff starting rotation. Perhaps a healthy Max Scherzer could, too. Robertson, who has made 42 career postseason appearances, would almost certainly be viewed by other contenders as a legitimate middle-inning option.

However, it's unclear exactly how the market will play out. If it gets flooded with sellers, the value could drop. Right now, it's hard to find many teams that could potentially offer a more attractive pitching combination.

Eovaldi and Robertson are both well-informed about transfer talks during the season, with both having already been traded twice in late July.

“If it happens, it happens,” said Eovaldi The Dallas Morning News last week. “I'm just focused on what we can do to get going.”

The trading opportunities fall into three categories:

Future free agents: A no-brainer. If the Rangers can't catch up, they have the option of potentially trading away Eovaldi, Scherzer, Michael Lorenzen, Saturday's starter Andrew Heaney, Yates, Robertson and possibly José Leclerc. As mentioned, a package of Eovaldi or Scherzer and Robertson or Yates could be their best chance to maximize returns.

Otherwise, it would be all about saving money. As it stands now, the Rangers' payroll for CBT purposes is about $251 million. They would need to save $15 million to get under the CBT threshold. At the end of July, this group would still be owed about $33 million, but short of the package deal, the best way to maximize returns would be to collect a significant portion of the players' remaining pay. Essentially, they would buy their way into a higher tier of young players.

Referee Boys: The Rangers have three outfield players already in arbitration – Nathaniel Lowe, Jonah Heim and Leody Taveras. As a trio, they would make more than $20 million in 2025. Lowe has recently rebounded after a long slump, but will likely have the highest salary in 2025 (over $10 million). The Rangers could consider trading one or more of them to avoid contract tender decisions, which would also free up money for free agency.

Redistribution of the fund group: For CBT purposes, Jon Gray is on the books for $14 million and Adolis García for $7 million for 2025. Trading them may not be the top priority, but if the Rangers get to a point where they want to maximize flexibility in free agency, freeing up that money for two players could allow them to turn it into another significant upgrade.

Young still believes this team can make those offseason decisions. However, the Rangers are running out of time. And it's time to prepare in case they need to sell to get a head start in 2025.

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Anna Harden

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