You do not have to look far to understand the amount of pressure that currently sits on the shoulders of the Texas Rangers. The 1990 through 1993 Buffalo Bills can tell you the burden of expectation that a two-time defending runner-up has to face (Bills actually can go to 4-time). Everyone wants to win the title, but no team wants to be the one that always finishes in second place.
So with a little more than a day and a half remaining before the official non-waiver trade deadline passes, the Texas Rangers should be feeling the pressure to make that one move that will give this squad the piece it needs to not only return to the World Series, but to close the deal as well. Yet, with Colby Lewis done for the season, Neftali Feliz having a setback during his rehab assignment, and Roy Oswalt fending off a chronically balky back, there has been nary a peep out of Texas in regards to acquire the shut-down pitcher the staff truly needs. And worst of all, they let the single best piece go to the division rival Angels.
Of course, by the best piece, I am referring to Zack Greinke, who the Angels acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday in exchange for shortstop Jean Segura and Double-A pitchers Doug Hellweg and Ariel Pena.
The Rangers were said to be, once again, the runner-up in the bidding for Greinke. However, different sources point toward different reasons a deal fell through. According to Ken Rosenthal at FoxSports, the Rangers refusal to include top pitching prospect Martin Perez in the deal killed it, while Bob Nightengale of USAToday pointed toward Texas balking at including either third baseman Mike Olt or shortstop Jurickson Profar in the swap.
Regardless of what reasoning was behind it, the Rangers obviously booted the ball when it came to this deal.
Perez is a solid prospect, ranking second in the organization and has recently been recalled to help with the rotation depth. However, with his fastball and change being his only plus pitches, he lacks the finish of some top prospects. His curveball has some knee-buckling break to it, but he’s inconsistent with his command of the pitch, making it an average offering at best. Swapping him for Greinke should have been a no-brainer, and developing a relationship with Nolan Ryan would have helped to sell him on resigning with the team this winter.
Olt and Profar are another story. Both are legitimately top prospects who would require the ground to shake in order to move them. Olt has prodigious power and is tearing the cover off the ball at Double-A Frisco at a .291 clip with 27 home runs, 80(!) RBI, and .986 OPS though 96 games. Likewise, Profar is trememndously productive for a 19-year-old playing at the Double-A level. Through 99 games, he’s putting together a .284 campaign with a .836 OPS and has shown a nice mixture of power and speed for a middle-infielder.
Of course, the problems for both Olt and Profar exist at the Major League level, where they are both blocked. Profar currently has Elvis Andrus (who is just 23-years-old himself) ahead of him at short, while Olt is blocked by Adrian Beltre. Andrus is signed through 2014, but it is feasible to see the Rangers moving him in order to make room for Profar, making him a true keeper.
Beltre on the other hand, it signed through 201 with a vesting option for 2016. Beltre’s contract alone will make him difficult to move, so barring a change of position for either Beltre or Olt, the latter could have been included in the deal to secure Greinke.
Olt’s inclusion would have allowed the Rangers to keep both Perez and Profar, while also securing the rotation anchor the staff needed. Instead, Texas may be over-valuing their prospects and it cost them the best pitcher on the market.
World Series are often won on bold decisions, and in this case, Jon Daniels chose to play it closer to the vest. Only time will tell if he boldly made the right choice.