The Texas Rangers have already made one of the MLB trade deadline's biggest splashes by adding RHP Matt Garza. But to truly upgrade their roster, a big bat is an imperative acquisition.
With the deadline clock steadily ticking down to 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the Rangers must act quickly if they want to improve their lineup. The Rangers currently sit at No. 2 in the American League West, with needs at the outfield and designated hitter positions.
Nelson Cruz, who leads the Rangers with 24 homers and 71 RBI this season, is likely to be suspended for his relation to the Biogenesis scandal. His loss would leave a big hole in the outfield.
Lance Berkman has stepped in this season as a valuable DH option for the club, posting a .355 on-base percentage with six homers and 34 RBI. His recent trip to the disabled list has his production for the rest of the season in jeopardy.
While there have been a few names on the Rangers' radar lately as possible trade options, the team seems reluctant to part ways with its own talent to make an upgrade.
#Rangers no longer seriously pursuing Alex Rios as trade deadline nears. GM Jon Daniels doesn't expect to make big splash.
— Jeff Wilson (@JeffWilson_FWST) July 29, 2013
Rios is an All-Star caliber player whose .272 batting average to go along with 12 homers would add some solid pop to the Texas lineup. Rios also has posted 53 runs this season, which would put him at No. 3 for a club that has struggled to score runs all year.
The Rangers may feel it isn't necessary to add pieces to their lineup at the deadline. But some players who would make sense, in addition to Rios, include RF Marlon Byrd and DH Kendrys Morales.
Byrd's numbers indicate he could be almost interchangeable with Cruz if he's lost. And they definitely indicate an upgrade from David Murphy, who has struggled to find life in his bat this season, currently boasting a .222 BA and .279 OBP.
Morales, on the other hand, would fill the hole at the designated hitter spot should Berkman continue to struggle with injuries. Morales is a switch-hitter who can also play first if needed, and his .278 BA, 16 homers and 58 RBI all surpass Berkman's clips—as well as starting first baseman Mitch Moreland's, for that matter—this season.
Another player Texas should consider for the DH spot is Seattle Mariner Raul Ibanez. Ibanez is 41 years old, but his .252 average and 24 homers this season prove he could make an impact for a club making the push for October this season.
As a team, the Rangers have penciled in 15 players at the designated hitter position this season, with a .256 average and a combined 12 home runs and 50 RBI. Morales and Ibanez would be cheap acquisitions from Seattle who should be strongly considered to upgrade the designated hitter position.
With all of that said, the fact still remains that the Rangers are reluctant to part with more prospects, after relinquishing top prospect Mike Olt in the Garza deal. Closer Joe Nathan has been rumored as a piece to be toggled to upgrade their hitting, but how likely it is he'll be moved is unknown.
Nathan has been one of the more consistent closers this season, converting 32 of 34 save opportunities and boasting a 1.73 ERA.
Given his age at 38 and a few arms like Joakim Soria and Neftali Feliz who could step into the closer role, the Rangers should move Nathan to acquire more production for their lineup.
The biggest needs for the Rangers in the final day before the trade deadline are in the outfield and the designated hitter position. Cruz could be gone soon, and Murphy isn't producing, which leaves the door open for upgrades such as Rios or Byrd.
Berkman has struggled to stay healthy this season, forcing Ron Washington to try out a plethora of players at the DH spot. Morales or Ibanez would be solid options to make a move for in this regard.
While it appears Nathan is the only piece Texas is at least willing to part with, the gamble would be worth it for any of these players. Texas could get them all if they commit to the "win now" mentality, but they should make a move regardless.