Granted, they're just over 1/4th of the way through the campaign and are just one game above .500.
But if you take a look at the standings, you'll see that no one is running away with the second wild card spot in the American League, giving the Rangers some hope as they continue to embark on a 16-game stretch of playing teams below .500. Texas is currently 3-0 in this stretch, completing a sweep of the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday, and can continue to climb up the standings with a series beginning Friday in Anaheim against the Angels, who are 2-5 in their last seven.
Most of the fans' attention has been on the trade interest of Rangers starter Mike Minor, who's off to the best start of his career, and what kind of haul Texas could get in return for his services. But what if Jon Daniels and his staff turned their attention to not only trading Minor to a contender for a bevy of talented prospects, but also trading their own prospects for another frontline pitcher from a team performing below expectations?
We give you the New York Mets.
New York is only 4.0 games back of the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East, but when you take a deeper look at the standings, you'll discover that they are also 2.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves, who are also in their division and own the second spot in the NL wild card race.
We can just imagine your thoughts right now as you're reading this. ... Yes, there are over 100 games still to be played, but what if another month goes by and the Mets are still in the same position? Do they then consider finally pulling the trigger on their No. 2 starter and Mansfield native, Noah Syndergaard?
We already know New York was putting out feelers on the right-hander they call "Thor" in the offseason, and now they have their ace, Jacob DeGrom, locked up for the next several years.
Jon Daniels told the Ben and Skin Show recently that trade discussions typically pick up after the MLB Draft begins on June 3 and goes all the way up until the trade deadline on July 31. Maybe, Texas is still in the wild-card hunt by that time, or maybe they're not. Regardless, Texas has always been interested in acquiring a player with a number of years of control no matter where they are in the standings. The Cole Hamels deal is a perfect example of this idea. When the Rangers agreed to acquire Hamels from the Phillies they were 49-52, in third place in the AL West, and eight games behind the first-place Houston Astros. They were also four games out in the AL wild card standings, with seven teams ahead of them. But they still made the decision to trade away five quality prospects to get Hamels. Why? Because Hamels was an ace who was under control for the next three seasons. It didn't matter that Texas wasn't in contention, Daniels just decided he could make a bold move to acquire a guy to pair with Yu Darvish at the top of the rotation.
The trade ultimately worked out very well for the Rangers as none of catcher Jorge Alfaro, outfielder Nick Williams, and pitchers Jake Thompson, Jerad Eickhoff and Alec Asher have blossomed into major talents. Eickhoff is the best of the bunch with a record of 2-2 and a 3.23 ERA in seven appearances (six starts) with Philadelphia this season.
Say you make the move for Syndergaard, he would immediately become the big draw the Rangers would covet entering the brand new Globe Life Field next season. Much like his teammates, Syndergaard is having an up and down season. He carries a 4.50 ERA, but that number has gone down considerably in the month of May. He's seen his ERA drop almost two runs since his start on April 27 (was 6.43). Since then, he's 2-1 with a 2.40 ERA. He'd bring World Series experience to a rotation likely to be filled by several prospects currently in the Rangers farm system.
This takes us to what the Rangers would have to give up to acquire a pitcher such as Syndergaard.
The conversation has to start with the club's top prospect, Hans Crouse. Crouse, who is currently pitching for Single-A Down East, projects as a top-of-the-rotation starter. But is it worth moving him since he's several seasons away from potentially making an impact for a guy who has already proven he can do it on the big stage?
Mike Bacsik posed this question today on the GBAG Nation, and the guys unanimously agreed that they would do the deal.
"If I trade Hans Crouse, I don't have to add in two more super-valuable pieces, but I'd have to add two pretty good pieces. Let's just say I had to put Taylor Hearn and another guy in A-ball to get it done," Bascik said. "I would do it because of this ... Gerrit Cole is going to be a free agent. As much as I want Garrett Cole here, we always lose out on the bidding. There's going to too many teams that want Cole that we're probably not going to win that. And I don't even know if we can win a Noah Syndergaard trade if he gets put on the market in July, but I'd rather take my chances on trading my premium prospects to get Noah Syndergaard."
Gavin Dawson went on to say that Daniels might be inclined to make such a trade because he could be on thin ice with the club's performance of late.
Here's something else to consider, the organization has had trouble developing several top pitching prospects under Daniels reign (Dillon Tate, Martin Perez, Tanner Scheppers, Kasey Kiker, Alex "Chi Chi" Gonzalez, and others). So it's no guarantee one way or another how the chips would fall if the Rangers pulled the trigger on such a deal. It would likely take until about 2021 at the earliest to find out if Crouse develops into the stud pitcher the Rangers believe he can be.
In seven starts with Down East, Crouse is 2-0 with a 3.03 ERA. He's averaging more than a strikeout per nine innings and batters are only hitting .217 against him.
We get it, the likelihood of such a trade happening is small, but it's certainly fun to discuss. We'll see how things go these next five weeks to give us a clearer picture of what's ahead for both teams.