Justin Smoak Finally Became Expendable Enough for the Texas Rangers

Todd KaufmannSenior Writer IJuly 10, 2010

ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 19:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers celebrates a homerun with Justin Smoak #12 against the Baltimore Orioles on May 19, 2010 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

This time last year, the Texas Rangers had received phone calls from other teams centered around third base prospect Justin Smoak. The Rangers weren't ready to give up one of the most highly-touted minor league prospects in any deal.

Fast forward a year later, and the Rangers were again faced with the decision of trading away a guy they wouldn't deal last year. The Rangers were sweating the decision, knowing that this might be the right time and the right player in return to finally relent.

On the other end of the phone were the Seattle Mariners, they wanted Smoak and they were ready to give up Cliff Lee in return. That's a deal that most teams would jump at, but not the Rangers.

The Rangers turned the Mariners down and any chance of a deal seemed all but dead. Seattle went another direction and began talks with the New York Yankees that quickly turned serious.

Players were discussed, as was the money that would be exchanged. The two sides quickly came to an agreement and everyone and their mother was all over this deal via Twitter and every other news source.

Earlier this yesterday afternoon, ESPN reported the two sides had come to a verbal agreement and called the deal, "done." That's when things got interesting.

Upon hearing the news, Rangers' general manager Jon Daniels, apparently after internal discussions within the team's front office, picked up the phone and called Seattle back. Daniels told the Mariners that if they still wanted Justin Smoak, that the Rangers would finally give him up.

The Mariners backed out of the deal with the Yankees, angering most, if not all, of their front office personnel, and news broke from Joel Sherman of the New York Post that the deal between the Mariners and Yankees was dead.

It left the baseball world in shock. Normally, the Yankees get whatever they go after. There was finally some balance in the baseball world. The Yankees had come up short of the goal line.

What followed was the biggest whirlwind of tweets from guys like ESPN's Buster Olney, the aforementioned Joel Sherman, SI.com's Jon Heyman, and Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

Sherman was the first to break this story, and he was the guy who was all over it from start to finish. No matter who you want to give credit to, it should only go to Sherman, but that's neither here nor there.

An hour later, the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners had an agreement and the deal was done. The city of Arlington, and north Texas in general, went nuts, and so did the airwaves around the Dallas/Ft. Worth metro area.

Callers into 105.3 FM in Dallas were ecstatic. Their team had pulled off a trade for an ace. They made a trade for a guy who could take them not only to a division title, but maybe, just maybe, to the American League pennant.

The Rangers have always been an afterthought in this town. Fans only showed up after the All-Star break and only if the team is actually in the playoff hunt. Otherwise, people  have better things to do around here. That is, until football season.

Fans will be lining up around the corner to get tickets for Saturday night's game against Baltimore because the team's new ace, Cliff Lee, will be making his Rangers debut and it couldn't come at a better time.

The Rangers have blown back-to-back four run leads over the last two nights, and they need a stopper to end a two-game losing streak to the worst team in baseball.

It was a deal they knew the team needed to make, and when given another opportunity, the Rangers pulled the trigger and not a moment too soon.

With the All-Star Game just a few days away, the Rangers are guaranteed to have the lead when it comes.

What happens after that is up to the team's starters and bullpen who have struggled in each of the last two nights.

Make no mistake, the Los Angeles Angels are going to be nipping at the heels of the Rangers the rest of the way and with the Rangers landing Lee, the Angels have almost been forced to make a big splash before the trade deadline as well.

For now, Cliff Lee is a Ranger and Justin Smoak is now a member of the Seattle Mariners. It's exactly what needed to happen at exactly the right time.

Related

    Which MLB Team Signed the Best Utility Player?

    MLB logo
    MLB

    Which MLB Team Signed the Best Utility Player?

    SNY
    via SNY

    Report: Harper, Philly Owner in Vegas 👀

    MLB logo
    MLB

    Report: Harper, Philly Owner in Vegas 👀

    Mike Chiari
    via Bleacher Report

    MLB Announces 20-Sec Pitch Clock for Spring Training

    MLB logo
    MLB

    MLB Announces 20-Sec Pitch Clock for Spring Training

    Megan Armstrong
    via Bleacher Report

    Personal Growth Fueling DeShields Entering 2019 Season

    Texas Rangers logo
    Texas Rangers

    Personal Growth Fueling DeShields Entering 2019 Season

    NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
    via NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth