The All-Star Game will be played tonight in San Diego with the winner determining home-field advantage for the World Series. Unfortunately, it does not seem like the Yankees will be in even a remotely close position to take advantage of a possible American League victory. They sit squarely at .500 while trailing six teams in the Wild Card race and 7.5 games behind the division-leading Orioles. Baseball Prospectus currently has their playoff odds at 8.1%, and even that seems generous.
The longer the Yankees hover around the .500 plateau though, the less inclined the stubborn team is to sell. Nonetheless, should they decide to trade off some of their attractive assets, the team with the best record in the AL could come calling. Many preseason predictions called for the Astros to claim the division crown that escaped their grasp late in 2015, but the Texas Rangers have quieted skeptics by jumping out to a 54-36 first half, leading the Astros by 5.5 games in the AL West.
Like pretty much any contender, the Rangers could use the type of bullpen boost that Aroldis Chapman or Andrew Miller could provide. Buster Olney has reported that GM Jon Daniels is on the lookout for those kinds of relief arms, too. It is not difficult to see why either, as the Rangers enter the second half with the second-worst bullpen in all of baseball by ERA. They limped into the break with a 5.10 mark, and their 5.09 FIP was second only to the absolutely abysmal Cincinnati Reds.
These facts don’t necessarily mean that Texas has zero useful bullpen arms, though. Closer Sam Dyson might have struggled against the Yankees on June 29th, but that was his only blown save since taking over the job from the woeful Shawn Tolleson in mid-May. Both Dyson and Tony Barnette have ERAs in the mid-twos with good walk rates, and former number one pick Matt Bush has been a surprising find as well. Jake Diekman was acquired in the Cole Hamels trade at last year’s deadline, and he might be the best arm of all with a 2.73 ERA, a 0.970 WHIP, and a 9.8 K/9.
Diekman is the only arm in that bullpen who is actually good at striking batters out though. None of them hold a candle to Chapman or Miller in that regard, and Diekman is the only lefty. If either of them was added to the bullpen, he would immediately become the relief ace and take over the closer’s role from Dyson. The Rangers learned all too well last year in the playoffs that dominant relievers can really help close out victories. Miller or Chapman could be that answer.
Another possible player who could be a boon for Texas is Brian McCann. This move would be very unlikely since the Yankees are quite fond of McCann’s leadership behind the plate and he has a no-trade clause. However, if the right offer is made, something could certainly be worked out (the Brewers’ Jonathan Lucroy has been linked to Texas, too). For as much as some Yankees fans harp on McCann’s batting average, Texas has received poor production from behind the plate, as their catchers have combined to hit .234/.285/.418 with a 78 wRC+, a far cry from McCann’s .248/.347/.462, 115 wRC+ line. The Rangers catcher with the most starts is 33-year-old Bobby Wilson, who just three years ago was in the Yankees organization splitting time at Triple-A Scranton with John Ryan Murphy. It’s bleak.
So the Rangers are in a dire catching situation, and McCann could certainly help as much as Chapman or Miller. The Rangers had three prospects crack Baseball America’s midseason top 100 in Joey Gallo, Lewis Brinson, and right-hander Luis Ortiz. Gallo is the pride of their system and absolutely not happening for any of these aforementioned players (neither is Dillon Tate, the fourth overall pick of the 2015 Draft). Brinson is probably a long shot too. A few months back, it seemed possible that perhaps the Rangers would part with former top prospect Jurickson Profar, but he seems to have mashed his way back into regular playing time. Jairo Beras and Eric Jenkins are other prospects further down on the farm who could come into play, too.
Daniels has not been afraid to deal prospects in the past, so the Yankees could probably find a nice haul from the Rangers system. That should make them an attractive destination if they do decide to deal Chapman, Miller, and/or McCann. At the very least, they should be in the back of Brian Cashman’s mind as the trade deadline approaches.