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Trade Target Team Profile: Texas Rangers

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The Big Picture

The Rangers have been the American League representative in the World Series each of the past two seasons. In 2012, they are 46-29 and battling with the New York Yankees for the best record in the league. To no surprise, the Los Angeles Angels have started playing (pitching) better and despite a slow start, they are just 4.5 games behind Texas.

Why They Will Trade With the Twins

The Rangers donít have a lot of needs. Generally, they are considered one of, if not the, best all-around teams in baseball. They have the best offense in baseball. Their pitching staff is among the top five in baseball.

However, the Rangers have shown in recent years that they are willing to deal at the trade deadline to become even stronger. Two years ago, they gave up (then) top prospect Justin Smoak to Seattle for Cliff Lee. Last year, they had one of baseballís strongest bullpens and went out and acquired Koji Uehara and Mike Adams and Michael Gonzalez. Then in the offseason, they signed Joe Nathan.

If Justin Morneau can possibly turn things around and hit for the next three weeks, he is a possible target as he would be a little improvement over the currently-injured Mitch Moreland at first base.
David Murphy plays left field most of the time with Josh Hamilton in centerfield. Late in games, they move Hamilton to left field and insert Craig Gentry for defensive purposes. The team would like to move Hamilton to left field more permanently. Currently, the Rangers leadoff hitter is Ian Kinsler who does a decent job of getting on base, but with his power, he might fit better down in the lineup. Denard Span would make a lot of sense for the Rangers as he could take over in center field and in the leadoff spot. Of course, they could also inquire about Josh Willingham to take over in left field or DH (with Michael Young playing more first base). Much depends upon how well Leonys Martin can play over the next month.

Of course, with Nolan Ryan involved, it would surprise no one if the Rangers did target some additional pitching. That means names like Francisco Liriano, Glen Perkins and Jared Burton could be trade targets, as well.

Why They Won't Trade With the Twins

As mentioned above, the Rangers do not have many needs. The Rangersí offense currently leads MLB in Batting Average (.282), On-Base Percentage (.343), Slugging Percentage (.456), and of course OPS (.800). The Rangers are also fourth in MLB in team ERA (3.61) and Batting Average Against (.242).

How much more salary will the team want to incur going forward? In the offseason, Josh Hamilton will become a free agent.

The Rangers have a strong farm system. They have the talent to win already, as they have proven the last two-plus seasons. Their core, along with some of the impressive stable of prospects in their system, could keep the Rangers in contention for years to come.

Conclusion

The Rangers do not have a lot of needs, but after falling short in the World Series each of the past two seasons, they will certainly be willing to deal to make themselves better. The Rangers have a strong farm system and have shown a willingness to use it to acquire players in each of the past two seasons. With their 20 year, $3 billion television contract from Fox Sports Southwest, payroll is not an issue. According to Forbes, the Rangers are worth $674 million, a 20% increase from 2011. However, adding a player like Denard Span and his team-friendly contract would make their offense, and their defense, even stronger. And based on last year, the Rangers clearly believe that you can never have too much quality pitching.

Here is a list five Rangers prospects that the Twins could look for in return in potential trades.

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Possible Trade Targets

Martin Perez - LHP
Perez is set to make his much-anticipated Major League debut this weekend for the Rangers. The 21-year-old southpaw was called up to take the place of Colby Lewis who was put on the Disabled List. Perez has always been very young for his level of competition. Baseball American has ranked him 17th, 24th and 31st respectively in their Top 100 prospect lists. He has a fastball in the low 90s with sink, a good changeup and a sharp, slow curveball. His potential is immense, although he is yet to experience much success at the AAA-level.

Tanners Scheppers - RHP
Scheppers played for the St. Paul Saints before the 2009 draft. The Rangers selected him in the supplemental first round that year. It was the third time he had been drafted because he has tremendous stuff. His fastball reaches into the mid-90s. He has a very good curveball as well. There were often durability concerns with him, and he struggled at times with control. The 25-year-old began this season in the AAA bullpen where he walked just four and struck out 27 in 29 innings. He was called up to the Rangers in early June where he has just one walk and nine strikeouts in 7.1 innings.

Jurickson Profar - SS
Profar is one of the elite prospects in baseball. The shortstop turned 19 in February and is currently hitting .289/.369/.463 (.832) in Double-A. He has 17 doubles, six triples, seven homers, 34 RBI and nine stolen bases. This comes after posting an OPS of .883 last year in High-A ball. The reality is that the Twins likely couldnít get Profar in exchange for Span, Morneau and Perkins. But could the Rangers reigning shortstop, Elvis Andrus, be available? He is just 23 and has been their starting shortstop since 2009. He can hit and field and is in the first year of a three-year, $14.4 million deal that takes him to free agency.

Neil Ramirez - RHP
23-year-old Ramirez came in to the season as a top prospect, but he has struggled at AAA. The 2003 first-round pick out of high school in Virginia Beach throws hard. As a starter, his fastball sits in the low-90s but touches 96. This spring, in a one-inning stint, he touched 98 mph. His curveball is said to be his best pitch, although he also has a very good changeup. Still young, he profiles as a mid-rotation starter, but with a fastball that is impressive.

Cody Buckel - RHP
Buckel was the Rangers second round pick in 2010 out of high school. He just turned 20 and made his first AA start. At High-A Myrtle Beach, he was 5-3 with a 1.31 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP. In 75.2 innings, he walked 25 but he struck out 91. He has a fastball that touches 94. He throws a cutter that sits between 85-90. He has a good 12-6 curveball in the 70s. He throws a slider in the low-80s. He also has a good changeup in the low-80s.

Please add your thoughts and trade ideas (and other names the Twins could pursue) in the comments below!

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