There's little doubt that the Rangers are once again one of MLB's best teams -- if not the best. Texas entered Tuesday's action with the second-best winning percentage and best run differential in MLB. Now, they're looking to fortify their team for the stretch run and into the postseason, and they're armed with a wealth of prospects whom they could use to push through a blockbuster deal. Here's the latest:
Considering the Rangers' recent history in the World Series, and the fact that they're facing the very real possibility of Josh Hamilton departing as a free agent in the offseason, one AL personnel exec said he'd be shocked if Texas didn't make a move for a top-of-the-rotation starter such as Cole Hamels or Josh Johnson, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter links). We already heard earlier today that the Rangers would be willing to acquire Hamels without the added complication of working out a contract extension.
Similarly, the Rangers are focused on acquiring a starting pitcher, such as Hamels or Zack Greinke, who can be a "difference-maker" for them once they reach the postseason, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Texas won't let the prospect of losing the draft pick attached to an outgoing free agent thwart their plans to acquire such a starter, adds Sullivan. In other words, it sounds like they're fine with acquiring a rental type. One alternative, though, would be "fortifying the bullpen" and deploying Alexi Ogando as a starter.
In addition to Hamels, Greinke and Johnson, the Rangers are also "in the mix" for Rays right-hander James Shields, and they would also be interested in reacquiring Phillies lefty Cliff Lee if he's made available, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com (Twitter links). The latter scenario, however, appears unlikely, Rosenthal adds.
We can't say for sure how things will shake out, but the Rangers certainly look like as strong a candidate as anyone to make a splash for one of the premium pitchers on the trade market before the deadline.