Word has it that the Rangers will likely trade Mark Teixeira this summer. He’s a Boras client, and is signaling that he won’t extend his contract before it expires after 2008, meaning that he and Boras plan to test the free agent market. And, it doesn’t look likely that Tex will sign with Texas.
So, unlike their past track record where the Rangers have let valuable players walk away for nothing in free agency at the end of a season because they thought they had a chance at the division or at least keeping fans interested along the way (e.g. Pudge, Rogers, GMJ, DeRosa, etc.), their MLB-worst record may smack some sense into owner Tom Hicks and GM Little Jon DanielsHart, forcing them to trade Tex now while his value is high (and in my book – overrated as he’s maybe the 7th best 1B in the majors – although his Gold Glove and youth do bode well).
All kinds of rumors have been flying around, including ones about Giambi (see previous post) that I hope the Rangers won’t entertain. But with two months to go before the trade deadline, and no reason other than health to move quickly, let’s first consider what the minimum price be for acquiring Tex should be?
A #1-capable, in the league now pitcher tops the list. As The Ballpark is not the place and the Rangers are not a team built to help pitching prospects turn the mental corner necessary to become a winning #1 pitcher, all teams offering prospects for Tex need not apply. This includes the Yankees and Phil Hughes. Hughes might become the next Clemens somewhere, but if sent to Texas, he’s more likely to become the next Ryan Drese. If the rumors are true that the Yanks are interested in Tex, the talking should start with Chien-Ming Wang. But with the health of the Yanks’ rotation this season, I don’t think that’s likely. But whoever comes knocking better bring a guy of Wang’s caliber and credentials – potential that’s been turned into performance at the major-league level for at least two successful seasons and someone who would be a leading candidate to be start on opening day for the Rangers in 2008, sending Milwood, Padilla and company down a notch in the rotation where they belong.
Depending on the quality of the pitcher, the Teixeira suitor should also bring a corner outfielder to the table. Someone who’s ready to start playing today. Unlike pitching, the Ballpark and the Rangers ARE built to develop offensive talent, so this could be a prospect who’s about to (or better yet, has already begun to) break into major league form. A guy who can learn fast from Rudy Jaramillo, and be ready to start in one of the corner outfield spots next season.
Finally, the Rangers need someone to man first base for until at least 2009 when Nate Gold, Kevin West or James Fasano might be ready.
And those three requirements are just the ante in the Teixeira Texas Trade ‘Em Tournament.