TODAY: Despite the action on Velasquez, a deal is still considered unlikely, a source tells ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link).
LAST NIGHT: 9:35pm: Things may be heating up between the Phillies and Rangers, as the teams are said to be in “pretty deep” trade talks regarding Velasquez, per a report from Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. He adds that Jeremy Hellickson is also of interest to Texas, albeit as more of a secondary target.
7:56pm: The Rangers have scoured the market for starting pitching, ranging from controllable arms to rentals, so perhaps it isn’t surprising that the team has looked at Phillies righty Vince Velasquez — as MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reported recently on Twitter. While a deal still seems rather unlikely for the young hurler, reports tonight suggest that Texas is dedicating some real resources into making Velasquez an option, with other rumblings suggesting that the team could have other big targets in its sights as well.
The Rangers are “all over” the talented 24-year-old, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). He says that the team has done extensive diligence, though it has done the same for a variety of other major potential investments. Texas has multiple scouts on hand to watch Velasquez pitch tonight, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki adds on Twitter, with Morosi tweeting that this suggests serious interest.
Velasquez has been enormously impressive this year, pitching to a 3.34 ERA with 10.1 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9. With just 86 days of MLB service entering the season, however, he’s got a ton of cheap control left. For the big-market Phillies, who’ll no doubt hope to ramp up their competitiveness in relatively short order, it’s impossible to imagine a deal coming together without a truly impressive array of talent coming in return.
Meanwhile, Texas has placed Jurickson Profar in left field for the first time tonight, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News notes (Twitter link). The Rays have eyes on that game, and Texas is among several organizations watching the Rays this evening with Jake Odorizzi on the hill, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.
Grant adds in another tweet that numerous other teams with pitching to sell also are scouting Texas. The Rangers’ top pitching targets remain Chris Sale of the White Sox and Chris Archer of the Rays, per MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, though that could be said of many other organizations, too. Sullivan adds that progress from injured Texas pitchers could impact the team’s deadline plans.
Of course, you’ll find those kinds of reports regarding who is sitting in the stands for many other teams. After all, it’s extremely common for a variety of scouts from multiple teams to show up at any given game, so it’s tough to read too much into those reports.
Nevertheless, Grant notes on Twitter that the Brewers have scouts on hand to see the Rangers, which he says is unusual for Milwaukee. Texas still prefers to add pitching above all else, Grant tweets, but there’s a “more detailed exploration” of Lucroy underway. Presumably, the teams could also discuss pitching.
Given the wide variety of scenarios that all of the above information could suggest, it’s obviously best to turn a critical eye towards all the scuttlebutt. But it certainly seems that the Rangers are seeking to line up a major addition, with other organizations perhaps taking that possibility seriously enough to turn their own resources toward exploring the possibilities with a club that holds some impressive trade candidates at or near the major league level.