by Kyle Stafford
With the MLB All-Star game fast approaching, the trade deadline lingers just around the corner. Many teams have tough decisions to make come July 31st, especially in the American League where every team is at least within 4.5 games of the second Wild Card spot.
As for the two teams in the state of Texas, we all know Houston is going to be buyers, as they look to improve their pitching staff. Texas on the other hand, their intentions are still unclear at this time.
The Rangers have several talented players with expiring contracts including Yu Darvish and Jonathan Lucroy. The team currently sits a game out of the wild card, but trail the Astros by 11 in the AL West. While it is still early in the year, winning the division seems out of reach with the way Jose Altuve and co. have played this season.
So what if the Rangers become buyers at the deadline but fail to make the postseason? Not only would they have given up prospects for a player or players that may only help them for a season, but they run the risk of losing Lucroy and Darvish in free agency receiving nothing in return. So why not be sellers this year, move guys like Darvish and Lucroy to build back up your farm system so in 2-3 years the organization is ready to compete once again?
These are the scenarios that will run across general manager Jon Daniels' mind throughout the next month.
As for Jeff Luhnow, the general manager of the Astros, his decision is a little clearer. Buy. Buy. Buy. Houston is solid on both sides of the diamond, but could use some added depth to their pitching staff whether in the bullpen or the rotation.
Many believe they'll target a frontline starter like Gerritt Cole or Jose Quintana. While those arms would be great additions to the rotation, they don't necessarily need a number one or two.
Dallas Keuchel looks like an even better version of his 2015 Cy Young self and Lance McCuller's Jr. is developing into one of the best pitchers in the game. The health of the two can be questioned as they are both currently on the DL, but what they've done on the mound can't be.
If Houston could add a number three type pitcher to the rotation, it could be enough to put them over the top.
Sonny Gray is a name that has been tossed around as a potential target for the Astros as someone who could step in as the number three starter. At one point a couple of seasons ago, before injuries slowed him down, Gray was considered an ace and a star on the rise. His ERA has skyrocketed the past two seasons which has lowered his trade value and delayed his climb to the top.
Still when healthy, Gray has great stuff and could be a big addition. Imagine a rotation that stacks up like this; Keuchel, McCullers, Gray, Morton, and McHugh (if he returns from injury this season). That's up there with the best of them and could make the Astros the clear favorites come October.
The only question that Luhnow is going to have to answer is whether or not he is willing to move his top prospects in the minors, as those players will be the ones targeted by rival executives.
A lot is going to happen within the next month that will lead to an exciting trade deadline. So, keep a watchful eye on the Rangers and Astros as they'll be two of the more interesting teams at the deadline.