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Trade Deadline: What happens with the Rangers' trade chips?

The Rangers' season has been largely unprecedented. Does the team's free-fall mean it's going to sell all its pieces? We break down the fantasy implications.

Thearon W. Henderson

Okay, if you've read more than, like, two of my pieces on Fake Teams, you know I'm a die-hard Rangers fan. As such, you know that 2014 has been really tough on me/all of us. It's been so daggone bad.

I've been monitoring this for the last couple weeks, but the Rangers were 35-35 at one point, and had they lost Monday night would have reached sixty losses before forty wins. There haven't been many worse stretches by any team in some time, and it's taken Texas from "fringes of playoff contention" to "lol nope."

Of course, the story started way earlier than that. It started January 7, when Derek Holland injured his knee playing with his dog. And it just continued. Here, let's look at it:

  • Holland hasn't played all year.
  • Jurickson Profar hurt his shoulder, and won't play all year.
  • Geovany Soto tore a knee ligament, and didn't play until Friday (and strained his groin Monday night, sigh).
  • Engel Beltre might not have been a big part of the team, but he broke his tibia and hasn't even had a chance.
  • Jim Adduci broke a finger, and just got back a few days ago.
  • Joe Saunders was terrible, but whatever, he broke his ankle too.
  • Joe Ortiz broke his foot, hasn't played.
  • Pedro Figueroa was a Tommy John victim. Done for the year.
  • Adrian Beltre strained his quad and missed a couple weeks.
  • Kevin Kouzmanoff was doing great in Beltre's stead ... until he suffered an injury of his own. He hasn't played since late April.
  • Tanner Scheppers struggled mightily to start the season, hit the DL for a couple months, came back, got hurt again, and is done for the year.
  • Martin Perez was great to start the year, struggled a bit, then went for his own Tommy John.
  • Matt Harrison didn't show up until April because of back issues, pitched in four games, then got shut down for the year.
  • Donnie Murphy isn't with the team anymore, but he missed a couple weeks.
  • Mitch Moreland hurt his ankle in early June, and he's done for the year.
  • Alexi Ogando hit the DL in early June, and hasn't returned.
  • Nick Martinez filled in in the rotation for a bit, but he's on the DL now with a left-side problem.
  • Yu Darvish missed the start of the season with a stiff neck.
  • Prince Fielder hadn't missed a game since something like forever, then was lost for the year in early May with a herniated disk.

Dude, that was a lot of bullets. And that's without even mentioning that Shin-Soo Choo has been playing on a bum ankle most of the year, that Alex Rios is out right now with a bum ankle of his own, that Neftali Feliz took some time to get all the way back from his own injuries, that Colby Lewis wasn't healthy (and has been terrible). This is now a team that had .147/.200/.279 hitting J.P. Arencibia fourth and playing first base last night.

What it means is that the Rangers are in a most unusual situation - they're done for 2014. Kaput. Fried as can be. Decent chance they'll be the team picking in front of the Astros "Brady Aiken repick" in next year's draft. At the same time, though, Fielder will be back next season. Choo ought to be healthy. Profar will be there.

This isn't the Phillies, who got old and hurt in a hurry and all of a sudden were a particularly sad version of Cole Hamels And The Pips. The Rangers have reason for optimism in 2015, even as 2014 circled the drain months ago.

A team that implodes generally becomes sellers at the trading deadline. It all becomes very "Everything must go." That's a possibility for Texas over the next 10 days (or more, when waiver trades come into play). But unlike any of their typical Awfulness Compatriots, there is also the outside chance that the Rangers could actually be buyers. David Price would look great on a competitive Rangers team in 2015. So would Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.

There's a lot in flux. But with that in mind, let's look at the Rangers' trade chips, and what might happen with them:

Adrian Beltre

A mini-slump of late has brought Beltre's OPS under .900, but after a slow start to the season, he still sits at .328/.375/.525, with 14 homers, 52 runs, and 53 RBI. He's signed through 2015, with a vesting option for 2016. He's 35, but hasn't had an OPS+ under 130 since 2009. He's not the best fielding third baseman in the game anymore, but he isn't that far from it. And heck, he led all of baseball in hits just last year.

If you're a contending team and can get that sort of player, you pay just about any price you have to.

Contending teams that could use a third baseman maybe, possibly, if you stretch really far

Yankees: I mean, Yangervis Solarte, Kelly Johnson, Zelous Wheeler, and Scott Sizemore are all delightful young men, but they're not exactly vintage A-Rod.

Braves: Atlanta extended Chris Johnson before the season, but he's been awful.

Dodgers: Any expensive veteran could always come to Los Angeles, and putting a good-fielding Beltre next to the not-so-much Hanley Ramirez might be okay, even if sorry, "Juan Uribe," happens.

Orioles: I haven't seen this talked about, but it makes sense to me. J.J. Hardy has been pretty bad this year, he's is in his last year before free agency, and everyone has said all along that Manny Machado will be back at shortstop eventually. A Beltre-Machado left side of the infield could be special.

Blue Jays: Brett Lawrie at second, Edwin Encarnacion at first, Adam Lind/Juan Francisco at DH, Beltre at third? I guess it's theoretically possible.

Would it make sense to deal him?

Only if they got a huge deal back. Uber-prospect Joey Gallo is coming, but probably not until 2016 at the earliest. Sure, in the meantime, they need to find something to do with Elvis Andrus-Jurickson Profar-Rougned Odor, but that's not the infield of a contending-in-2015 team. If Texas deals Beltre, they enter a year in which they ought to contend without a real third baseman.

So any deal of Adrian Beltre better offer a huge return, and one with pieces that will be around soon. None of this "guy will be strong in 2017" nonsense.

And his fantasy value?

Down a bit. Beltre's power plays well in Texas; it's not going to do as much or as well elsewhere. He's still elite, just not ... as elite? Is that a term?

Alex Rios

Rios has had a weird career. Four homers this year after 25 in 2012. Forty-two steals against seven caught last year, 16 successes and eight failures this. He's leading the league with eight triples, but also leading with 16 GIDPs. Still, it's a 110 OPS+, even if it's been arrived at unconventionally.

A week ago, Rios' trade chances looked higher. But he rolled his ankle Saturday, and it might increase teams' hesitancy about him. He's got a relatively affordable option for 2015.

Contending teams that could use a right fielder

Royals: They've already been rumored to be in on Rios. They added Norichika Aoki in the offseason, but he's been underwhelming, as has the offense at large. It would be funny for Kansas City to add another decent hitter without much power, but hey, it's what they do.

Athletics: They like Josh Reddick, and so do I, but he's been a pretty disheartening combination of bad and hurt, and none of the fill-ins have been any great shakes.

Mariners: They always need offense, and their outfield has been ... bad.

Reds: If Cincinnati decides Joey Votto won't be back/healthy, I can envision a scenario in which Jay Bruce moves to first. Even if Votto comes back, Rios would be a left-field upgrade to Ryan Ludwick and Chris Heisey.

Giants: Brandon Belt's back on the DL, which could mean Michael Morse to first base, and an outfield opening.

Would it make sense to deal him?

Somewhat. Rios is a price tag for 2015, and Engel Beltre could be a viable option. On the other hand, he's not a huge price tag, and Rios is still an above-average outfielder.

The Rangers don't need to be looking directly to deal Rios, but they don't need to be particularly opposed to it, either. He could bring back a decent return.

And his fantasy value?

Unchanged. Rios isn't around for his power, per se, and what he does he ought to be able to do just about anywhere. We just need to see that his ankle is okay.

Joakim Soria

The trade of Huston Street a few days ago complicated things. It set the price tag for any upper-end closer at a really high level (seriously, that was a huge return). And it took one of the main closer-wanters out of the market.

That said, if someone wants to dig around, there aren't many better closer options on the market than Soria, who has a 2.59 ERA (0.84 FIP) this year, with 42 strikeouts in 31.1 innings. He comes with a very cheap option for 2015, as well.

Contending teams that could use a closer

I ran through this all last week in the Closer Rankings, but the main name here is the Tigers. Joe Nathan just isn't improving. On the flip side, he's signed to a big contract through next year, and adding another closer to that mess could really complicate things.

Pirates: They'd add him as a setup guy probably, but Mark Melancon hasn't been so dominant that it's impossible to see a way for a trade addition to be a closer.

Would it make sense to deal him?

Sure, I guess. I have trouble finding a way to make the pieces all work, but if a team wants to give up what it takes to get him, it makes some sense; Feliz, Scheppers, Ogando, or Neal Cotts (unless he's dealt, too) could all get saves next season.

And his fantasy value?

Hard to say. Honestly, the most likely destination I can find for Soria would be to Detroit, and I really think they'd try to keep Nathan as closer even then. That means Soria could lose his save chances.

Neal Cotts

Shorter pieces now. The Rangers should, and likely will, send Cotts somewhere. He's a 34-year-old who is arbitration-eligible, and he's having a good year. It would be as a middle reliever, and it's hard to see a way he gets saves.

Elvis Andrus

No. Just no. He's still valuable (really, he is), and that's not a bad contract. Andrus ain't goin' nowhere.

So who might get dealt?

Ultimately? It wouldn't altogether shock me if none of the tradeable Rangers, Cotts excepted, go anywhere. I get that I'm biased by fandom, but I just have a hard time seeing it. Remember, they're hoping to contend next year. And it's hard to see a way trading any of those pieces makes them more likely to get there.

If I had to rank the likelihood of these players moving, I would go, top-to-bottom, most-to-least likely:

Neal Cotts

Joakim Soria

Alex Rios

Adiran Beltre

Elvis Andrus (No, stop, he ain't leavin'.)