12:10pm: Texas would like the Yankees to take on a portion of Miller’s salary in the event of a trade, writes Wilson. Miller is under contract through 2018 at $9MM per year.
11:30am: The Rangers are also in talks with the Padres regarding righty Andrew Cashner, per Sullivan (Twitter link).
11:24am: In addition to Moore, the Rangers and Rays are also discussing Odorizzi and Drew Smyly, but not Chris Archer, tweets TR Sullivan of MLB.com. As for the bullpen, the Rangers are eyeing Yankees relief ace Andrew Miller, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link).
9:04am: Looking to upgrade their rotation and bullpen prior to the Aug. 1 trade deadline, the scuffling Rangers are engaged in trade talks with the Rays, reports Jon Morosi of MLB Network (Twitter links). The clubs have discussed left-handed starter Matt Moore, to whom the Rangers have been connected previously, as well as relievers. Texas was also reportedly interested in Rays right-handed starter Jake Odorizzi as recently as July 5.
While the 54-38 Rangers hold a 4 1/2-game lead in the AL West, they and the second-place Astros have been going in opposite directions lately. Texas has dropped 11 of its last 14, and its rotation is missing righty Colby Lewis and southpaw Derek Holland – both of whom are on the 60-day DL – and has gone without ace Yu Darvish for most of the season. Darvish made his second return of the year Saturday, but the Rangers can’t necessarily count on him to be at full strength.
Even if Darvish and Cole Hamels stay healthy and effective, there are questions about the rest of the Rangers’ starters. A.J. Griffin hasn’t lasted longer than five innings in a start since May 2; Martin Perez has yielded 12 earned runs in 9 2/3 frames over his previous two outings, and his ugly 1.0 K-BB percentage this year ranks second to last among qualified starters; and Kyle Lohse has only made one start in Texas, a five-inning, six-earned run showing on July 9, since signing a minor league deal in May. It’s worth noting that Lohse was woeful as a Brewer last year, logging a 5.85 ERA in 152 1/3 innings.
On paper, Moore would be an upgrade over each of Griffin, Perez and Lohse. Considering the 27-year-old is under control through 2019 via reasonably priced club options, he’d also fit into president and general manager Jon Daniels’ plan to acquire pitching capable of helping the Rangers beyond this season. Moore isn’t without his flaws, though, as the previous Tommy John recipient has recorded somewhat pedestrian numbers this year (4.33 ERA, 7.58 K/9, 2.63 BB/9, 36.9 percent ground-ball rate) through 116 1/3 innings. His velocity is at its highest point since 2013, however, and he’s throwing more strikes and going deeper in games, as FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan wrote earlier this month.
In addition to potentially acquiring Moore, the Rangers would also like to bolster their bullpen, which has both the second-worst ERA (5.03) and K-BB percentage (8.9) in the majors – bettering only the Reds’ dreadful group in each category. Among their innings leaders, Sam Dyson, Jake Diekman (who’s on the DL with a finger laceration), Anthony Barnette, Matt Bush and Alex Claudio have fared well this season. Shawn Tolleson and Cesar Ramos have endured miserable years, on the other hand. Rays right-handed swingman Erasmo Ramirez has come up in trade rumors throughout the season, but he hasn’t performed well and it’s unclear if Texas is interested in him.