With less than a week left before the trade deadline, the landscape for the Texas Rangers has changed a bit.
First, the club got the news that Colby Lewis is out for the year with a torn flexor tendon in his elbow. That only increases the club's need for a starting pitcher before 3 p.m. central time next Tuesday. Second, one big fish that many in the industry thought would be in the trade deadline pond has re-signed as Cole Hamels is staying in Philadelphia for six years and a little more than $140 million.
There were a few trades Tuesday too, but the Hamels signing means one option is no longer available for the Rangers. So what are other pitching possibilities left for the Rangers? A look:
Zack Greinke: He has to come into focus more now, especially after he pitched well Tuesday night against Cliff Lee and is now the top rental pitcher on the market. The issue with Greinke, as it was with Hamels, is that it's a true rental player because with the CBA you don't get any draft picks. But it's also possible that the Rangers could acquire Greinke without giving up Jurickson Profar or Mike Olt. The fact that Martin Perez threw well Tuesday for the Rangers can only help his trade value (there were plenty of scouts on hand, too). But Greinke would give the club a difference-maker for the postseason, and that's really what this trade deadline is about for Texas. You can read Jim Bowden's thoughts on Greinke here (insider).
Josh Johnson: It's clear the Miami Marlins are in full sell mode. And the Rangers have liked Johnson for years. The question is, how do they feel about his arm this season? He's been inconsistent, but when he's right he can dominate an opposing lineup (and he did in his last start, going six shutout innings against the Braves). Also, Johnson is not a half-season rental in that he's signed through 2013, when he'll make $13.75 million. USA Today's Bob Nightengale tweeted that the Rangers are willing to include third baseman Mike Olt in a deal for Johnson. My bet is to trade Olt, the Rangers would want a pitcher that is under control for more than just the final few months of 2012. Johnson fits that bill.
James Shields: There's chatter out there about the Los Angeles Angels trying to get the 30-year-old right-hander. But he would make sense for Texas too -- the Rangers have scouted him and have interest. He's not a No. 1, but he's a solid starter who's pitched in big games and would give the pitching staff a boost. Shields has a flexible contract, too. He's got a $9 million club option for 2013 ($1.5 million buyout) and a $12 million club option for 2014 with a $1 million buyout.
Cliff Lee: This remains a longshot, but now that the Phillies have signed Hamels, do they look to unload some of Lee's massive contract? To do it, they'd have to eat some of that deal, and it's unclear if that would happen. But Lee has familiarity in Texas, is a guy who can front the rotation (Rangers fans saw that in 2010) and has three more years on the deal. But it's a high-priced deal ($25 million in 2013, 2014, 2015 and a $27.5 million club option for 2016 with a $12.5 million buyout, though the option vests if Lee meets some innings pitched parameters the previous year and isn't injured). Lee turns 34 in August, so the contract pushes him into his late 30s. How much money the Phillies pay likely impacts how many good prospects they can get in the deal.
There are other names that could surface. Matt Garza is on the block, but after leaving with cramp in his right triceps in his last start and the fact that he isn't likely to toe the rubber again until Monday, it seems doubtful teams could be satisfied that he's healthy before the deadline, but we'll see.
What kind of deal do you think the Rangers should make? Who are you willing to give up? Is anyone in the farm untouchable? Would you deal Jurickson Profar?