Why Rangers shouldn’t bet the farm on Bryan Reynolds trade

the rangers have yet to add a major league left fielder in this otherwise frenetic winter.

There are two ways to consider this development (or the lack thereof). One: Trade for Bryan Reynolds, already! This, not surprisingly, is a viewpoint expressed frequently in the cool, considered world of social media. The other: Slow down, crazy child; what’s the hurry about?

It comes down to this: Reynolds, currently of Pittsburgh, is almost certainly a worthwhile piece on a club that can win a championship, but is he the kind of player that makes you a championship team?

And that must be the Rangers guide.

Because if the Rangers are going to dip into the top tier of their minor league system, whether it is now or in July ahead of the trade deadline, whoever they acquire better put them over the top. They are trying to navigate a narrow channel to jump back into legitimate World Series contention and sustain that long-term. It takes a lot of money to enter that canal and it takes a productive farm system to traverse it successfully and come out the other end still a winner.

Owner Ray Davis has spent big money the last two offseasons to try to jump the line. Call them the winters of gorge. He’s committed almost $800 million to players in free agency while the organization has stocked up on talent by picking in the top three of the draft in consecutive years. And until they take the next step on the field, the idea of ​​buying and hording talent should probably be the prevailing strategy.

Don’t give up assets until it is necessary. Because at some point it always becomes a necessity.

An overhauled scouting system has the Rangers on the verge of having a productive farm system. And a productive farm system is the lifeblood of sustainable contention. The Rangers ended in 2022 with the No. 6 rated farm system in the majors, according to both Baseball America and MLB.com.

What it lacks in sexy superstar prospects, it makes up for in realms of depth and a higher talent floor. In other words, it stands to produce capable big leagues with the chance that a couple might just turn into stars. Josh Jung should contribute in 2023. Evan Carter might be ready by the second half of the year, just around the time he’s turn 21. Jack Leiter and Owen White might flirt with 2024 opening day starting rotation. And if not them, there are others.

To this point, those four names—the Rangers’ top four prospects—have been at the center of Pittsburgh’s asks for Reynolds. And not just any one of them; we’re talking combination plates here. The Pirates are trying to jump start their window of contention, too. They just don’t have the financial resources. Correction: Owner Bob Nutting hasn’t been willing to provide them. They have ranked 22nd or lower in club payroll every year in the last decade.

So, their route: Mortgage anything close to a star for multiple pieces. If not a star, Reynolds is certainly close. Reynolds also has asked Pittsburgh – politely we’re sure – to trade him. The Rangers are interested. They must be given the left field issues of the last decade. According to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, they are “seriously” interested. It’s always hard to define the real meaning of adjectives when transactions are being discussed. One team’s “serious” interest is another’s passing inquiry. It all depends on who’s talking.

There’s a lot to like about Reynolds. He will be only 28 on opening day. He’s had two .300 seasons with an OPS of .875 or better. He’s been an All-Star. He’s controllable through 2026. He will make less than $5 million in 2023. There are some concerns, too. A 6 WAR player in 2021, he fell to half that in 2022 while his strikeout rate went up significantly and his walk rate fell.

He would undoubtedly represent an upgrade over what the Rangers got from left field in 2022. Then again, who wouldn’t? The Rangers left field contingent produced a .577 OPS last year. It was the worst from any left field group in the majors. It’s been this way for almost a decade. The Rangers need to upgrade and it’s still uncertain if Bubba Thompson and Josh Smith can provide that.

But, given the Rangers’ position, merely upgrading isn’t enough if the cost is prospects. Certainly not if the Pirates want to raid the top of the system. And let’s face it, swashbuckling aside, raiding is what Pirates aim to do. If the Rangers’ merely want to upgrade, they can probably do so cheaply, whether the acquisition fee is in salary or prospects.

David Peralta, a .754 OPS guy over the last four years, is probably going to cost a team somewhere north of $5 million, but well short of the $11 million Joey Gallo got from Minnesota. Detroit’s Austin Meadows, an .813 OPS/123 OPS+ guy over the last four years, might be available via trade. Meadows if four months younger than Reynolds. He missed a significant part of last year due to an Achilles injury and then mental health issues but has been rejoined the team’s winter workouts and is cleared to play. Given his 2022, he might not require such a premium package.

There is always the possibility of giving Thompson and Smith left field to start the year and then adjusting as need be.

The point: There are other ways to address left field without slicing a layer off the top of the cake that is the Rangers’ farm system.

Until they can be sure they are contenders and sure they are getting a true impact player, they are best served to hold their cake and eat it, too.

On Twitter: @Evan_P_Grant

Find more Rangers coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.

Click or tap here to sign up for our Rangers newsletter.

Leave a Comment