The Texas Rangers were heading towards the trade deadline with a handful of issues and no clear cut answers, but as has become the norm in Texas, Jon Daniels made the deal of the day. With just minutes remaining on the clock, Daniels swung a move that sends Ryan Dempster to Texas in exchange for Christian Villanueva and Kyle Hendricks who were both at High-A Myrtle Beach.
Every single team in baseball has been after Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt when dealing with Daniels and the Rangers. Profar has long been rumored to be off of the table so many teams were in search of Olt, but as time went along it was clear that Daniels had no intention of moving Olt either. Not moving Olt is why Zack Greinke ended up with the Angels instead of the Rangers and it is why players like Josh Joshnson were never traded. If teams could not have Profar, they wanted Olt, but even though many felt that Daniels would part with him in the end, it was never an option. Olt's place in this organization is clearer than ever before. Adrian Beltre may be at third base, but Olt's bat will be in the Rangers' lineup sooner or later, with sooner being a bigger reality.
Daniels kept his game plan right up until the wire and it seems that he was completely content walking away without a starter if Olt or Profar had to be included. Many have criticized Daniels for his unwillingness to include prospects to get a deal done. They have felt that the Rangers have their window of opportunity and need to be willing to do whatever it takes to get the Rangers over the hump, including trading players like Profar or Olt.
The issue with the whole window of opportunity is that everyone has a different view on that window of opportunity and the length of it. It seems that many feel that the window is close to closing. They feel that the Rangers have already been to the World Series two years in a row and have players like Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli that could be leaving via free agency. However, Daniels vision for this organization has never been to have a team with a small window. He has often expressed his desire to have a club that was competitive and playing into October every season.
While that has been his desire, he has put everything in place for that to actually happen. The Rangers began this season with the top farm system in baseball. There was talent from the top to the bottom including top prospects like Profar, Olt, Leonys Martin and Martin Perez, but the system was extremely deep all the way down to kids playing Dominican summer ball.
When the move for Dempster was made, many started talking about how much the Rangers were willing to pay for Dempster. The Dodgers and Yankees were not able to make the deal, but the Rangers were. Including Villanueva seemed to be what got the deal done and while that was more than the Dodgers or Yankees could swing or were willing to do, it was just a speck in the Rangers' system. Villanueva started the season as the Rangers' #9 prospect according to Baseball America, which means he would have been much further up the list for other clubs. What is important though is that Daniels made the move without giving up Profar, Olt, Perez, Martin, Cody Buckel, Jorge Alfaro, Rougned Odor or many others.
Dempster is a rental, but Daniels gave up very little at a time where the team is virtually desperate for starting pitching. Colby Lewis had already been lost and then it was announced right after the Dempster deal that Neftali Feliz would be having Tommy John surgery.
Villanueva was the key to the deal, but he did not have a clear road to Arlington. The Rangers are already struggling to find a place for Olt with Beltre at third and then Villanueva would always be behind Olt. The Rangers are also deep at third base throughout the system with players like Drew Robinison and freshly drafted Joey Gallo.
Gallo was just drafted in June, but has completely destroyed Rookie ball. Gallo has hit 14 home runs in his first 33 professional games, compiling a .321 average and ridiculous 1.254 OPS. Everyone has been super excited about Gallo and many have asked if having him in the system would make it easier to part ways with Olt. However, their situation is currently unrelated. Gallo is 19-years-old and far away from the big leagues. He has played professional ball for a month and there has been hardly any time for him to work on his deficiencies, much less to have time to find all of them.
While Olt and Gallo are not directly related, having a player like Villanueva in a system that has Beltre, Olt, Robinson and Gallo was not needed. It truly was depth and it was an area where the Rangers could afford to give it up.
Daniels gave up little, improved the club and kept his farm system in place. It is still the best in baseball and it is a system that should allow Daniels to put a winning team on the field for years to come. The window of opportunity in Texas is very big and will not be closing anytime soon.
John Bowman is a lifelong baseball and Texas Rangers fan that loves to ponder the deeper aspects of the game. Some of his first baseball memories involve Arlington Stadium nachos, Charlie Hough's knuckleball, dirt on Pete Incaviglia's uniform and the voices of Mark Holtz and Eric Nadel as he fell asleep.
- Sports & Recreation
- Texas Rangers
- Jon Daniels
- Ryan Dempster