Scouting The Trade Market: Detroit Tigers

(Gregory Shamus/Getty)
(Gregory Shamus/Getty)

The Tigers are going down in flames. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but things are not going well in Detroit right night. Last night’s win was their season in a nutshell: they jumped out to an 8-0 lead, then the disappointing starting pitcher and hilaribad bullpen let the other team make it interesting. Before you knew it, the tying run was on deck. The win improved Detroit’s postseason odds to a mere 25.4%, so says FanGraphs.

Depending on who you ask, the Tigers are either going to sell at the deadline or hold off a little longer before making a decision. They are still in the wildcard race, after all. Both Bob Nightengale and Jon Heyman say the Tigers are preparing to sell and put some big names on the trade market, though Jayson Stark hears they won’t commit to anything until after Sunday, when they’ll re-evaluate their situation. So basically no one knows anything, pretty much.

The Tigers are like the Yankees: they’ve never truly going to sell, only retool so they can try to win again next year. They’re the ultimate win-now team, with a window based on Miguel Cabrera’s peak and whatever Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, and Victor Martinez have left in the tank. Detroit is not going to tear the whole thing down and rebuild. Expect them to seek players who can help them win in 2016 in any trade. Let’s run down the players who could possibly help the Yankees.

RHP Shane Greene

The players are listed alphabetically, I swear I’m not trolling. The 26-year-old Greene has been atrocious this season, pitching to a 6.52 ERA (5.03 FIP) in 77.1 innings. That’s after allowing just one earned run in his first three starts and 23 innings. His strikeout (23.5% vs. 14.0%) and ground ball (50.2% vs. 42.7%) rates are way down compared to last season. Greene’s been really bad this year. Shockingly bad. I feel bad for the poor kid bad.

At this point Greene is a reclamation project, and the idea would be getting him back into a familiar environment with the coaches who helped develop him into what he was last year after being drafted as a hard-thrower and not much else. Greene credited minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson for helping him more get on line with the plate and improving his walk rate two years ago, which raised his prospect stock and got him to MLB.

Now for some #RealTalk: If Greene was not an ex-Yankee, there would be zero interest in acquiring him. He’d be just another 26-year-old second year guy with a good but not great minor league track record and fairly limited big league success. He’d be Barry Enright circa 2010. But Shane is an ex-Yankee, so we dream. Dream of getting Greene back, waving the organizational magic wand, and watching him go right back to where he was last year. If only it was that easy. Greene has negative 2015 value. That’s the reality of the situation.

What Would It Take?: Trading Didi Gregorius for Greene seems insane now, doesn’t it? I can’t find another instance of a similar young-ish reclamation project guy being traded in recent years, so we’re out of luck there. Maybe a change of scenery deal? My busted Greene for your busted young player? I’m not sure who that would be on the Yankees. Mason Williams? Either way, I find a Greene trade unlikely. I expect the Tigers to try to fix him rather than sell super low.

Kinsler. (Leon Halip/Getty)
Kinsler. (Leon Halip/Getty)

2B Ian Kinsler

The Yankees desperately need a second baseman, preferably a right-handed hitting one to balance out the bottom of the lineup, so Kinsler is a natural fit. He’s having a fairly typical Ian Kinsler year at .284/.346/.403 (109 wRC+), with a decent amount of walks (8.3%) and few strikeouts (13.5%), two traits that are fairly common up and down the New York lineup. Kinsler has also consistently rated as a strong second base defender and base-runner, so hooray for well-roundedness.

Kinsler does come with some red flags, of course. For starters, he turned 33 last month, so he’s not young. He’s right at the age where a lot of second baseman seem to fall off the cliff. That’s part of the reason the Yankees shied away from re-signing Robinson Cano, the dreaded second base aging curve. Also, Kinsler is owed approximately $38M through 2017, assuming his $12M option for 2018 is bought out for $5M. He’s no rental. He’s quite expensive, actually.

Age and salary are out of Kinsler’s control. The third red flag is something he can control, at least in theory. His power is way down this year — he’s on pace for only nine home runs after hitting 17 last year and averaging 19 per year from 2006-14, and his .119 ISO is a career-low. As Nolan Meister noted last month, Kinsler came into the season with the intention of hitting the ball the other way more often, but he has gradually started to pull the ball more the last few weeks.

Kinsler has hit four homers with a .230 ISO in his last 22 games after hitting one homer with a .079 ISO in his first 71 games. The loss of power could have to do with a simple change in approach, something Kinsler may have already corrected based on the last few weeks. Pulling the ball has gotten such a negative connotation the last few years because of the shift, but it’s a good thing. That’s how most hitters hit for power. Kinsler is at his best when he isn’t focusing on the opposite field all the time.

The Yankees are looking for rental players, which is their standard trade deadline strategy, and Kinsler doesn’t fit the profile. That’s not a strict policy — they did acquire Martin Prado with two and a half years left on his contract last year, for example — and who knows if they would be willing to be flexible for Kinsler. He fits the team’s playing style and fills a position of obvious need, but he’s not young, he’s not cheap, and he also has a bit of a mouth on him. The Yankees tend to steer clear of players who could become distractions.

What Would It Take?: Is last year’s Prado trade comparable? Prado and Kinsler both had two and half years left on their contracts, they’ve both been 105-ish wRC+ hitters the last few years, and they play solid defense. Prado is two years younger and more versatile, and he is cheaper, but Kinsler had a much greater peak as a former 30/30 guy. One year of Howie Kendrick was traded for a consensus top 50 prospect (Andrew Heaney) this offseason, so I’m sure the Tigers have their eyes set on something better than Peter O’Brien. I know I would.

BRING ME. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)
BRING ME. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)

LHP David Price

I’m not even sure I need to go into much detail here. Price is inarguably one of the best pitchers in the world — he’s been one of the best for a half-decade now — and is the game’s third best left-hander behind Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale. This season the 29-year-old has a 2.32 ERA (2.78 FIP) in 132 innings with great strikeout (23.7%), walk (4.8%), and home run (0.68 HR/9) rates. He hasn’t gotten a ton of grounders (39.2%) but that’s never really been his thing.

Price is excellent. He’s been excellent this year, he was excellent last year, and he’s been excellent pretty much since the day he broke into the big leagues. There are zero arguments to be made he is anything short of an ace, a perennial 200+ high-quality innings machine. He makes every rotation better. Should the Tigers decide to put Price on the market, he immediately becomes the best available starter, ahead of Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels and whoever else.

As for the Yankees, Price is embodiment of everything they look for in a starter. He throws hard (averages 93.9 mph), he misses bats (11.5% whiff rate), he doesn’t walk anyone (again, 4.8%), and he’s tall (6-foot-6). As an added bonus, Price is left-handed, which fits well in Yankee Stadium, and he’s been through the AL East gauntlet with the Rays. He knows the division, knows the ballparks, knows the hitters. It’s a perfect fit. Perrrfect.

Price will be a free agent after the season and he’s going to end up with Max Scherzer money (seven years, $210M), and the Yankees shied away from Scherzer last offseason because they didn’t want to pay big bucks for his decline. That can’t be the focus with Price though. He’s a rental ace. Look at him as that and nothing more. Price is a someone who can actually complete seven innings on occasion (novel idea, I know) and change the balance of power within a division. If the Tigers make him available, the Yankees should be knocking down Detroit’s door.

What Will It Take?: So here’s where it gets interesting. The Yankees say they have “sworn off” trading top prospects for rental players, though I’m guessing Price would make them reconsider that stance. How could he not? I’d be pretty annoyed if the Tigers put Price on the market and Yankees didn’t make a serious push to get him because they don’t want to give up prospects.

Anyway, the Yankees were involved in best comparable rental ace trade: Cliff Lee! They were willing to give up their best prospect (Jesus Montero) and two others (reportedly David Adams and Zach McAllister) for two months of Lee back in 2010. The Rangers beat them out by offering their No. 1 prospect (Justin Smoak, who wasn’t too far behind Montero on Baseball America’s top 100 list), No. 17 prospect (Blake Beavan), and two non-top 30 prospects (Matt Lawson, Josh Lueke). So yeah, you want David Price on the Yankees? It’s gonna hurt.

Update: The key difference between Lee and Price is draft pick compensation. Back in the day the Yankees would have been able to get two draft picks had Lee left as a free agent after the season. They wouldn’t be able to get a pick for Price because of the current system. That matters.

Big Pasta. (Leon Halip/Getty)
Big Pasta. (Leon Halip/Getty)

RHP Alfredo Simon

After a fine start to the season, the 34-year-old Simon now owns a 4.63 ERA (4.02 FIP) in 105 innings this year. He’s never been a big strikeout pitcher (16.9% in 2015), but he has been a ground ball pitcher (career 46.1%), just not this year (41.3%). The walk (8.0%) and homer (0.94 HR/9) numbers are average-ish. Simon is the quintessential back-end guy. He chews up innings with his sinker/splitter combination, but they aren’t great innings.

Simon is a depth arm. Nothing more, nothing less. He has a ton of experience in the bullpen — he worked mostly in relief from 2010-13 before the Reds moved him into the rotation out of necessity last year — and would effectively replace Branden Pinder in the bullpen. Is that a good thing? I dunno. But Simon is someone who could start or relieve, and the Yankees wouldn’t have to worry too much about his workload. They could run his pitch counts up without concern for his long-term future. Harsh? Yeah. But that’s baseball.

(It’s worth noting Simon has had some trouble with the law the last few years, specifically this and this. The Yankees value makeup and good character way too highly for me to think they’ll overlook that.)

What Would It Take?: I’m going to refer back to what I wrote yesterday about Wandy Rodriguez:

Roberto Hernandez, the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona, was traded for two players to be named later last summer. The two players were ranked by Baseball America as the No. 22 (2B Jesmuel Valentin) and No. 29 (RHP Victor Arano) prospects in the Dodgers’ system before the trade, and both were down in rookie ball at the time of the deal. Wandy Simon shouldn’t cost more.

There you go. The Tigers surprisingly gave up a useful young infielder (Eugenio Suarez) and a hard-throwing pitching prospect (Jonathan Crawford) to get Simon in the offseason, but I can’t imagine anyone will give up a comparable package at the trade deadline.

RHP Joakim Soria

Soria. (Leon Halip/Getty)
Soria. (Leon Halip/Getty)

Detroit’s bullpen has been atrocious this season, even worse than usual, and Soria is the team’s best reliever almost by default. He has a 3.08 ERA (4.93 FIP) in 38 innings but has been extraordinarily homer prone (1.89 HR/9). His ground ball rate (44.3%) is okay, it’s just that his stuff isn’t as crisp as it once was, so when he makes a mistake, it gets hammered.

Soria’s strikeout (21.6%) and walk (6.5%) rates aren’t nearly as good as they were during his prime, which was now almost five years ago. Lefties have smacked him around a bit as well (.317 wOBA). Tommy John surgery is rough. Especially when you have two of ’em. Soria is more name value than actual production right now, following the two elbow reconstructions. He’d be an upgrade over the Branden Pinders and Chris Capuanos of the world, but at this point Soria would be the sixth best reliever in New York’s bullpen at best.

What Would It Take?: Rental relievers get traded at the deadline every year. Soria’s not going to command a top prospect like Andrew Miller last year, but he’s probably not going to come for almost free in a salary dump like Jonathan Broxton either. (Soria is owed roughly $3M the rest of the season.) Maybe an organizational top ten prospect (Nick Delmonico) like the Orioles gave up for Francisco Rodriguez two years ago? Maybe. Should the Yankees do that? Nah.

* * *

Like I said before, the Tigers are likely to look for MLB ready players able to help in 2016 in any trade. I doubt they want prospects. I don’t even know if they’re going to sell, but I can’t get my mind off a possible Price plus Kinsler package. The Tigers love hard-throwing pitchers, absolutely love ’em, which makes me wonder if they’d be interested in Nathan Eovaldi. Eovaldi plus Rob Refsnyder (to replace Kinsler) plus, say, Chasen Shreve (to help with their bullpen woes) plus a prospect like Jorge Mateo?

Actually, I’m going to stop right there and your trade proposal sucks myself. I’d do that trade in a heartbeat, which means Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski would say no. That’s a package of “good,” not “great.” Mateo is the potential “great” in that package and he’s three years away from MLB. The Yankees would be getting the two best players in that deal. That’s a package of junk drawer stuff for a rental ace and an above-average second baseman. Not happening. That doesn’t make Price or (to a lesser extent) Kinsler any less of a fit for the Yankees though. Now they just need to the Tigers to sell.

Yankees take the series against the O’s with a 4-3 win behind dingers

The Yankees now have won three in a row and seven of their last nine. Also they took the series against the division rival Orioles so that’s always a plus. Ivan Nova pitched solidly and Mark Teixeira and A-Rod‘s homers powered the offense to deliver the 4-3 W for New York.

(Source: Getty)


Just like last night, the Yankee bats drew first blood in the game. Jacoby Ellsbury led off the bottom of the first with a double on an 0-2 count. Brett Gardner followed that up with an RBI single to center. Kevin Gausman got A-Rod to pop out but Teixeira hit a homer to right to give a 3-0 Yankees lead. Good start.

The offense didn’t get much going for next few innings. Gausman threw a pair of 1-2-3 innings. Carlos Beltran hit a lead-off double in the fourth but the following hitters failed to bring him in home. In the fifth inning, with one out, A-Rod hit a mistake pitch deep to left field – the ball hit the top of the Steiner Sports sign. It was his 20th homer of the year – a feat that he last accomplished way back in 2010, which is pretty wild to think about.

Gardner’s RBI and HRs by the big guys amounted to four total runs for the Yankees and that was good enough to win the game. New York did, however, struggled a bit with RISP situations, going 1-for-8 (after going 1-for-10 yesterday). Ah well. If this was last year’s lineup, the Yankees would have had much harder time winning. Having healthy Teixeira and A-Rod back in the lineup is huge.

(Source: Getty)


The Orioles got their first runs in the top of third on a two-run homer by Ryan Flaherty. Ryan Flaherty! Buck Showalter started him instead of Chris Parmelee at first base. Prior to this game, Flaherty had been 3-for-7 against Nova and that moved worked well.

Besides that one blunder, Nova pretty much cruised. He went six innings, allowed three hits, two runs, walked three and struck out three. After tonight’s start, his ERA is at 3.34 in 29.2 IP, which is very acceptable, especially for a team that needs rotation upgrades. If he gradually shakes off the rust start-by-start, he could be on track to throw better outings down the stretch.

Late innings

As far as the pitching was concerned, it was a smooth sailing for the Yankees… well, for the most of it.

Three Yankee relievers pitched an inning each and faced one batter above minimum. Chasen Shreve came in to pitch the seventh and retired the side 1-2-3. Girardi summoned the unofficial 8th inning guy Dellin Betances and he did what Dellin normally does – a three-up, three down inning with two strikeouts.

In the ninth, Andrew Miler came in and… he retired the first two hitters with a ground out and strikeout. The third hitter of the inning, Chris Davis, made contact with a low slider. It seemed like a routine fly ball off the bat but the ball somehow sailed over the short porch for a solo HR. Davis doesn’t make contact that often anymore but he still has that freak power. Thankfully, Miller struck out Jonathan Schoop to seal the win for New York.

Box score, standings, highlights, WPA

Here’s tonight’s box score, updated standings, and vid highlights.

Source: FanGraphs

Tomorrow, the Yankees go for the series sweep. Masahiro Tanaka takes the rubber against Ubaldo Jimenez in an afternoon matchup. Again, a sweep would be really nice, especially for yours truly who lives in the state of Maryland.

DotF: Pirela, Refsnyder, Bird, Sanchez all have big days in Scranton’s win

Two puff piece-y articles to pass along:

  • Maria Guardado wrote about SS Jorge Mateo, who admired Derek Jeter growing up and wears No. 2 in his honor. He’s also quite proud of his 65 stolen bases. “That number means a lot to me,” he said. “I know that I’m going to keep moving forward because that’s what I like to do — getting on base in order to steal bases and score runs for my team. It’s one of the parts of the game that I enjoy most. My goal for this year would be to try to steal as many bases as I possibly can.”
  • Zach Braziller wrote about RHP Alex Robinett, this year’s 32nd round pick who is also a cadet at West Point. His military obligation begins in September and could last as long as five years, though he could apply for a waiver after two to play baseball. “That’s the ultimate goal for this season, to prove to the Yankees I’m a worthy investment,” said Robinett. “They have to know they can utilize me down the road. I think it’s important to show them you have a high ceiling for potential.”

Triple-A Scranton (10-5 win over Indianapolis) fifth straight game with no OF Aaron Judge

  • CF Ben Gamel: 0-5, 1 BB, 1 K
  • DH Jose Pirela: 3-6, 2 R, 1 RBI, 2 K — well, there’s no doubt he can hit minor league pitching, that’s for sure
  • LF Ramon Flores: 2-6, 1 R, 1 RBI
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 K — 3-for-8 (.375) with two doubles since being sent down
  • 1B Greg Bird: 2-5, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 K — 14-for-37 (.378) with three homers in his last nine games
  • C Gary Sanchez: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — 4-for-15 (.267) with a double, a homer, three walks, and two strikeouts in five games since the promotion
  • RF Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SB — batted ninth, which is indicative of his season to date
  • RHP Esmil Rogers: 5 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 7/2 GB/FB — 61 of 91 pitches were strikes (67%) … remember when he was pitching high-leverage innings? that feels like a lifetime ago
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 2/0 GB/FB — 19 of 25 pitches were strikes (76%)

[Read more…]

Game 93: Make It Eleven


Thanks to last night’s win, the Yankees are ten games over .500 for the first time since September 13th, 2013. Yes, I too was surprised to find they were ten games over at one point in 2013. The Yankees haven’t been eleven games over .500 since the preview day, September 12th, and that’s what they’re looking to accomplish tonight. Eleven games over .500 and a bigger lead in the AL East.

Ivan Nova is on the mound tonight and he has been rather uneven since coming back from Tommy John surgery. That’s not really surprising, but it doesn’t make it any more enjoyable to watch. For now, all the elbow reconstruction has done is turn Nova from an inconsistent starter into an inconsistent starter with an excuse. Hopefully he shoves tonight. Here is Baltimore’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Carlos Beltran
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Ivan Nova

It’s a wonderful day for baseball in New York. Clear skies and warm but not super hot. Pretty great. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET and you can watch the game on YES locally and ESPN nationally. Enjoy, y’all.

Injury Update: Mason Williams (shoulder) is heading to Tampa tomorrow to continue his rehab. He’s been throwing and stuff, and the trip to Tampa usually means the player is ready to really ramp up his workouts. That doesn’t mean minor league rehab games are imminent, but Williams is getting closer.

2016 Draft: MLB announces Competitive Balance Lottery results

(Jeff Zelevansky/Getty)
(Jeff Zelevansky/Getty)

Earlier today, MLB announced the Competitive Balance Lottery results for the 2016 Draft. In a nutshell, small market and low payroll teams are given extra draft picks each year for the sake of, ahem, competitive balance. Joey Nowak has a good primer if you’re unfamiliar with the system.

Here are the results from Wednesday’s lottery drawing:

2016 Competitive Ballance LotteryThe Yankees are neither a small market nor a low payroll team, so they weren’t eligible for a Competitive Balance Lottery pick. Haven’t been since the system was implemented a few years ago and won’t be anytime soon. At least the Cardinals didn’t get a pick this year. They have the last few drafts.

Anyway, these Competitive Balance Lottery picks can be traded! Just not during the offseason for some reason. (What a silly system.) The picks can be traded right away — the Astros received a 2015 Competitive Balance Lottery pick from the Marlins at the trade deadline last summer in the Jarred Cosart deal, for example — so that’s more ammo for those teams at the trade deadline.

The Reds (Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman), Athletics (Ben Zobrist, Scott Kazmir, Tyler Clippard), Marlins (Mat Latos, Dan Haren, Martin Prado), and Padres (Ian Kennedy, Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner) are all realistic trade partners for the Yankees prior to the trade deadline, so perhaps the draft picks get involved in a deal somehow. Otherwise this doesn’t have much to do with the Bombers.

Yankees have a favorable second half schedule as they look to run away with the AL East

The Yankees are gonna be here a lot in the second half. (Presswire)

Through the first half of the season, the Yankees played 47 of their 88 games on the road, including a stretch of 32 road games in a 48-game stretch from mid-April through early-June. They had a ten-game road trip and a nine-game road trip within a month and simply didn’t spend much time at home in Yankee Stadium. The Yankees had to endure a lot of travel early on. It’s rough.

“When I looked at the schedule before the season started I saw that, but I didn’t realize how tough it would be until you actually go through it,” said Brett Gardner to Dan Barbarisi recently. “We’ve played a lot of games on the road, I think at one point we played 27 out of 35 games on the road.”

The Yankees made it through that road heavy first half in first place with a four-game lead, and they’ve managed to stretch that lead to 4.5 games early in the second half. FanGraphs gives them an 85.5% of making the postseason, third highest in the AL, and believe it or not they have the best World Series odds in the AL at 13.1%. That’s all based on projection systems and whatnot, so who the hell knows, but damn, that’s cool. Contending is cool.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. It is still only July and a 4.5-game lead isn’t much. One bad week and that lead could evaporate. For the now, the Yankees are focused on extending that lead and running away with a very winnable division. After that grueling first half on the road, the second half schedule is much more favorable, including 40 of 74 games at home. (They’ve already played four of those 40 home games and are 3-1.)

Furthermore, the Yankees don’t play a ton of great teams in the second half. They’re done with the Royals and Angels — they got lucky facing the Angels in the first half, the Halos are currently on a crazy don’t wanna play ’em 16-3 run — and their only remaining interleague series are three-gamers on the road against the Braves (late-August) and Mets (mid-September). The Braves stink but the Mets are kinda good, though knows where they’ll be in two months.

Buster Olney (subs. req’d) did the math recently and found the Yankees have only 18 games against above-.500 teams in the second half, though that is misleading. The Orioles were at .500 and the Blue Jays were a game under at the All-Star break. Games against those teams are never easily regardless of their record, and the Yankees have eight games left against the O’s and 13 left against the Jays. They close the season with three games in Camden Yards.

More important than the opponents in the second half is the sheer number of home games. The Yankees play 16 of 28 games at home in August and 17 of 28 games at home in September. Three of the September road games are at Citi Field, so no travel required. During one stretch from mid-August through late-September the Yankees will play 28 of 43 games at home. After September 1st, the Yankees will not spend more than three straight nights away from New York.

Remember, the Yankees do have an older team, especially on the position player side. Alex Rodriguez turns 40 next week and needs regular days off even as a full-time DH. Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, and CC Sabathia are all on the wrong side of 35. Brian McCann is a 31-year-old catcher with over 10,000 regular season innings on his knees. Even Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury could use time off given how much they use their legs.

On paper, the schedule favors the Yankees in the second half because they play the majority of their games at home and don’t face many good teams outside their division. That’s a good combination. Taking advantage of it is another thing. Remember the series with the Phillies a few weeks ago? No wins are guaranteed. The Yankees have some easy travel down the stretch and it should benefit their older players, not the mention the fact they play much better at home (+40 run differential) than on the road (-12).

“In September, I don’t think we’re gone for more than three or four nights in a row,” added Gardner. “In the position we’re now, if we can keep guys healthy and continue to play well, August and September will hopefully be an advantage for us.”

Scouting The Trade Market: Texas Rangers

Gallardo. (Presswire)
Gallardo. (Presswire)

As the trade deadline draws closer and closer, the Rangers are falling further and further back in the race. They won last night but have lost three of five since the All-Star break and 18 of their last 25 games overall. Yikes. That’s dropped Texas to nine games back in the AL West and six games back of the wildcard spot. FanGraphs gives them the lowest postseason odds in the AL at 3.0%. (The projection systems hate their roster, I guess.)

The Rangers are in neither buy nor sell mode — Evan Grant writes they are in “opportunist” mode, looking for ways to improve the roster. I’m pretty sure that’s a nice way of saying they’re selling. Texas has some awful contracts on the books — it’s a stars and scrubs roster, though several of the stars are playing like scrubs — and not a ton of trade chips, but they do have some rental arms to peddle. Do any make sense for the Yankees? Maybe! Let’s look.

RHP Yovani Gallardo

Gallardo is easily the most marketable rental player on the Rangers, and he’s having quite the walk year: 2.91 ERA (3.68 FIP) with career best ground ball (50.8%) and home run (0.61 HR/9) rates. His walk rate (8.7%) is identical to his career average and his strikeout rate (16.2%) is a career worst. As I noted in the mailbag last week, Gallardo has gradually been trading strikeouts for ground balls over the years (graph doesn’t include his most recent start over the weekend):

Yovani Gallardo K GB

The strikeouts for grounders things is the kind of adjustment you usually see an older pitcher make, not a guy yet to turn 30. It’s weird. Usually a decline in strikeouts is a red flag, but this has been going on so long I have to think it is at least somewhat intentional. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather have the strikeouts than ground outs, but Gallardo has found a way to make it work.

Beyond his performance this year, Gallardo has also been very durable the last few seasons, throwing at least 180 innings each year since 2009. He’s also had a minimal platoon split because of his five-pitch repertoire. There’s a little something for everyone:

% Thrown Avg Velocity Whiff % GB%
Four-Seamer 31.5% 91.7 5.4% (6.9% MLB AVG) 42.4% (37.9% MLB AVG)
Sinker 22.2% 91.7 4.6% (5.4%) 60.2% (49.5%)
Slider 29.0% 88.6 10.3% (15.2%) 48.2% (43.9%)
Curveball 12.6% 80.0 10.6% (11.1%) 61.1% (48.7%)
Changeup 3.9% 86.1 6.8% (14.9%) 54.6% (47.8%)

The swing-and-miss rates are comfortably below-average across the board while the ground ball rates are well-above-average. That fits into the whole “trading strikeouts for grounders” thing. Gallardo’s probably not going to get you a swing-and-miss at key moments — runner on third with less than two outs, etc. — which is an issue and limits him to a mid-rotation guy.

Gallardo played a half-season with CC Sabathia back in 2008, so the Yankees have some access to firsthand knowledge of him as a teammate and a clubhouse guy, though it was a long time ago. People change. At the end of the day, Gallardo is a rental starter pitching well in his walk year because he gets grounders and can neutralize lefties. His durability and affordability ($6.5M through the end of the season) are pluses as well. He’s not Johnny Cueto or David Price, but Gallardo belongs in the second tier of rental starters alongside Scott Kazmir and Jeff Samardzija.

What Would It Take?: Ken Rosenthal says the Rangers are currently listening to offers for Gallardo, for what it’s worth. Considering recent trades involving similar rental pitchers, it appears it will take a package of three pretty good prospects to land Gallardo, or perhaps two prospects with one being a high-end guy. Matt Garza was traded for four prospects two years ago, including Mike Olt, who Baseball America ranked as the 22nd best prospect in the game before the 2013 season. I do think Gallardo is a qualifying offer candidate, so the Rangers have no reason to take back something worth less than a supplemental first round pick. Gallardo’s not going to come as cheap as, say, Mike Leake or Ian Kennedy.

Magic Wandy. (Presswire)
Magic Wandy. (Presswire)

LHP Wandy Rodriguez

The 36-year-old Rodriguez is at the tail end of his career and it’s hard to think he has much trade value. He was released at the end of Spring Training, remember. So far Wandy has a 4.07 ERA (4.12 FIP) in 84 innings with Texas, though both his strikeout (18.3%) and ground ball (41.9%) rates are below-average. Not a good combination! Especially when your walk (8.9%) and homer (0.96 HR/9) rates aren’t great either.

The Yankees already have a version of Wandy Rodriguez on the roster in Chris Capuano. They’re extremely similar as finesse lefties who can soak up some innings and pitch at a slightly below league average rate. Do they really need two guys like that? Nah. Rodriguez doesn’t have much appeal beyond being a warm body who can take a rotation spot in case of injury. I’m sure the Rangers are open to trading him. There’s just not much of a reason for the Yankees to bring Wandy in.

What Would It Take?: Roberto Hernandez, the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona, was traded for two players to be named later last summer. The two players were ranked by Baseball America as the No. 22 (2B Jesmuel Valentin) and No. 29 (RHP Victor Arano) prospects in the Dodgers’ system before the trade, and both were down in rookie ball at the time of the deal. Wandy shouldn’t cost more.

Rua. (Presswire)
Rua. (Presswire)

UTIL Ryan Rua

Off the board? Yep. Fill a need? Potentially! Rua, 25, is a right-handed hitting utility guy with experience at the three non-shortstop infield positions as well as left field. (He came up as a third baseman, primarily.) Most of that experience is in the minors — Rua has only 47 games and 172 plate appearances of big league experience, during which he’s hit .251/.273/.401 (82 wRC+). That includes a 43 wRC+ in 63 plate appearances this year. (He missed two months with a broken bone in his heel.)

The Rangers came into the season expecting to use Rua as the right-handed half of a left field platoon, but his injury threw a wrench into things, and now he is a seldom-used bench player. In fact, he has only 18 plate appearances this month. Rua is a career .291/.368/.476 (121 wRC+) hitter in Triple-A, including .327/.364/.558 (.374 wOBA) against lefties. Baseball America (subs. req’d) ranked him as the eighth best prospect in Texas’ system before the season. Here’s a snippet of their scouting report:

Rua is an offensive-oriented prospect who has plus power and can take the ball out of the park to all fields. He starts his swing with a leg kick, keeps his weight back and his head still. Rua can get long to the ball, with some concerns about his ability to hit good offspeed pitches, but his swing is fluid, and he squares up the ball frequently … He’s surprisingly athletic for his body type, though he’s a below-average runner and adequate-at-best defender wherever he goes, making the routine plays at third base with an average arm.

The Yankees are said to be looking for a right-handed bat, which Rua is, though there’s no guarantee he’ll actually hit Major League pitching. He has good minor league numbers, the scouting report is decent enough, and he offers some versatility. As an added bonus, Rua has at least two and possibly all three minor league options remaining. He seems like a potentially useful depth player. Not a star, probably not even a starter, but maybe a platoon bat or a guy off the bench.

Thanks to those minor league options, the Yankees would be able to stick Rua in Triple-A until rosters expand on September 1st, then use him as an extra platoon bat in the final month of the season. He still has five years of team control remaining, though that’s not a huge deal with players like this. What are the odds Rua hangs around long enough to play all five of those years with one team? I dunno, Rua just seems like a possible fit given the team’s positional needs and interest in adding a righty bat.

What Would It Take?: I’m not sure there’s a good way to approximate this. Players like Rua are often traded as part of packages for MLB players — they’re the guys who go to the team that is selling, not the other way around. Juan Francisco was traded for an MLB ready reliever (J.J. Hoover) a few years ago. That’s the best reference trade I can come up with.