Assembling Rangers' Perfect Adam Dunn Trade Package to Replace Nelson Cruz

Ely SussmanCorrespondent IAugust 6, 2013

ST. PETERSBURG - JULY 6:  Infielder Adam Dunn #32 of the Chicago White Sox waits to bat against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on July 6, 2013 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

The Texas Rangers were not the least bit surprised when Major League Baseball officially suspended Nelson Cruz on Monday.

However, the possibility that the outfielder might appeal his suspension—and remain active for this all-important stretch run—may have influenced their behavior at the non-waiver trade deadline. The Rangers let July 31 pass without acquiring an impact bat, but they'll presumably try to bolster their lineup this month.

ESPN's Buster Olney (subscription required) writes that Chicago White Sox slugger Adam Dunn is an interesting fit:

...the greatest impact for any of the suspensions handed down was on the Texas Rangers, who lost Nelson Cruz, a slugger responsible for 20 percent of their home runs in the first four months and four days of the regular season. They asked around before the trade deadline and couldn’t find help, and in their desperation they convinced Lance Berkman to continue to try to play through injuries that forced him to contemplate retirement.

There could be one really interesting solution for the Rangers as they look to solve their power problem: Adam Dunn of the White Sox.

The 33-year-old obviously has his flaws.

Dunn is slashing .225/.330/.464, striking out too much and performing terribly with the glove. He's a replacement-level player who is guaranteed $15 million for the 2014 season.

Those factors make him a realistic August target for Texas.

Once players get placed on revocable waivers (most of them do around this time of year), MLB rules stipulate that struggling teams get first dibs. In this particular case, the Rangers wouldn't be allowed to claim Big Donkey until he's offered to every American League team with a weaker 2013 record.

(Bleacher Report's Jason Martinez explains this in greater detail.)

The Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals, for example, all trailed Texas in terms of winning percentage entering Tuesday night. One of them could theoretically claim Dunn just to be a pain in the Rangers' rear end, but then the White Sox might respond by forcing said team to absorb him and his contract.

Such a threat should ensure that Dunn gets to a club that actually wants him. Cruz's suspension and impending free agency provide the Rangers with enough financial flexibility to make this work.

With all that said, do not expect Chicago to trade a productive clubhouse leader for peanuts. Dunn has 26 home runs this season, the AL's fifth-highest total, and his on-base percentage is considerably better than the league average.

Texas will need to sacrifice young players (albeit expendable ones), and last summer's Kevin Youkilis trade serves as a reasonable comparison.

The Boston Red Sox moved their declining-yet-reputable corner infielder to the South Side with more than a year remaining on his contract. They received utility guy Brent Lillibridge and right-hander Zach Stewart in exchange.

Since the White Sox have just begun to rebuild, they probably seek a minor leaguer with a reasonably high ceiling, as well as someone who can contribute immediately. The Rangers could send 18-year-old outfielder Nomar Mazara and right-hander Cory Burns to satisfy their trade partner.

Although Mazara possesses great raw power and bat speed, he's still far away from contributing in the majors. The front office won't lose sleep from moving a guy who's only flirting with a .700 OPS at Single-A.

In 29 career innings split between the Rangers and San Diego Padres, Burns has a 4.03 ERA and shaky 1.79 WHIP. The 25-year-old reliever does, however, own an 11.3 K/9 through 214 appearances in the minor leagues.