It's that time of year again. Time for teams to make a move towards a push to the playoffs or to deal quality players in an effort to rebuild. That's right, it's trade season.
Cliff Lee was the big prize last year for the Rangers but this season a formidable ace does not seem to be on the market. That's alright because the Rangers rotation has pitched lights out all season led by All-Star C.J. Wilson.
With not much needed on the offensive end, that leaves the way to improve the team with a big splash this year will come from the bullpen. And boy do they need the help. The Rangers bullpen has given up the third-most runs of any team in the majors while striking out the fourth-fewest batters.
The area in the bullpen with the most trouble is the seventh and eighth innings. Lefty's Darren Oliver and Arthur Rhodes are finally starting to show their age and hard-throwing righty Mark Lowe has been inconsistent all season.
So with that said, what players could the Rangers be targeting to fill this crucial late-inning role and get the position the team for another deep October run?
With being under team control through 2012 and being one of the top young closers in the game, there's no questioning why the Rangers would seek the Kansas City closer on the trade market.
It's unknown whether the Royals would be willing to let him go, but he would give the Rangers a legitimate eighth inning arm that can be trusted to get the ball to Neftali Feliz. After the season he would transition back into the closer role as the Rangers will look to move Feliz into the rotation.
The odds of this happening are slim because of the asking price Kansas City would probably seek, but the Rangers do have the prospects to get a deal done.
Grant Balfour is just the intimidating force the Rangers bullpen needs in the eighth inning. He is a proven competitor and is having a good season for the division rival A's.
He has a 2.41 ERA for the A's and is high a strikeout guy, something the Rangers bullpen is in desperate need of. The Australian native is also a big game performer who hasn't given up a run in his last six playoff appearances. He is under team control through 2012.
Of course the asking price for Balfour will be higher for the Rangers than other teams but he still shouldn't command a top prospect.
Not many relievers have been better over the past three years than Mike Adams of the San Diego Padres. He doesn't get as much attention as he should but he is another ideal trade target of the Texas Rangers.
This guy knows how to pitch as evidenced by his career ERA of 2.17 and has averaged a strikeout an inning while living in the shadows of Heath Bell. The tall, hard-throwing righty is sure to command a good return for the Padres if made available.
He is another guy that is under team control through 2012 which allows flexibility with the future of Neftali Feliz. The Padres have been reluctant to make the pitcher available due to his favorable contract, but all signs out of San Diego indicate that they are now willing to talk business.
The Washington Nationals' righty has been one of the best relievers in the game this year. In 40 games Clippard owns a 1.79 ERA with 62 strikeouts in 50 innings while pitching in the ever difficult National League East.
The Nationals are said to be seeking a center fielder in any trade and have been linked to the Rays' B.J. Upton. The Rangers could offer Julio Borbon and another prospect for the Nationals' All-Star who is signed through the end of the year.
Like all the other names on the list, Clippard is a hard throwing righty who would slide right into the seventh and eighth inning role. He has never saved a game in his career so the Neftali Feliz transition isn't helped any by this addition.
Heath Bell seems to be the prize of the trade deadline, and the Rangers will be going hard after the big Padres closer. Bell is a free agent after the year, and would command a pretty sizeable contract. But what he would offer the Rangers would be an All-Star quality closer to set up another All-Star quality closer.
Once again, if he was to be maintained after 2011, this would allow Feliz to transition into that starting role that the Rangers desperately want him in.
Bell's name has been floated around for the last year or two and is now linked to many aspiring playoff teams including the Cardinals, Brewers and Rangers. Bell would probably command a high return in prospects, but some don't think it will be as much as you might think.
The Rangers definitely have the pieces that would land them Bell. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.