7:23PM: The Rays and Padres are two of the clubs with interest in Gallo, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
2:25PM: As speculation about ace Lance Lynn abounds, the Rangers are also floating another star in trade talks: Texas is “discussing” Joey Gallo in potential trades, reports ESPN’s Jeff Passan. As with Lynn, expect the asking price for Gallo to be quite high, so we’ll have to wait to see just how motivated Texas is to deal its slugging outfielder.
Gallo turned a corner last season, blossoming into more than merely a homer-happy strikeout machine. Make no mistake, the dingers and strikeouts were still there in abundance, but his offensive game took an overall step forward, with Gallo looking like a more well-rounded slugger. His batting average climbed to a respectable .253, OBP up to .389, and accordingly his OPS elevated into elite territory, finishing the year at .986. Granted, a hamate injury limited Gallo to just 70 games played, but there were plenty of indications that production of that caliber was the new normal for the 26-year-old.
Gallo has shown himself to be a solid defender, having played all three outfield positions in the past and settling into right field this year. He’s an all-around athlete, with speed and ample arm strength making him more than a one-dimensional slugger. Those things, along with his age and remaining team control—he’s got two years of controllability left, first eligible to reach free agency after the 2022 season—will lead the Rangers to demand a significant return for their best offensive player.
Alas, Gallo has stumbled out of the gates in 2020, managing an unspectacular .774 OPS, though there has been no shortage of homers, walks, and strikeouts. But if Gallo has struggled this year, the surrounding lineup hasn’t offered much help. Texas has scored the third-fewest runs in baseball, with only the Marlins and Cardinals (who’ve played just 24 games) trailing them. That’s led to a 12-20 record, leaving them with slim chances to crack even an expanded postseason bracket.
Interested teams will note that Gallo is represented by Scott Boras, whose clients don’t often go for extensions. Of course, the Rangers are consider that factor as well, and they’d be remiss not to listen to offers for a player who might not stick around for the next contending Rangers team. To be sure, there’s no pressure to pull the trigger on a deal right now, but Texas will have to weigh its confidence in working out an extension with Gallo if they intend to hang on to him.
There’s no word on specific teams that have inquired about Gallo, but one figures there’d be widespread interest in a controllable, athletic outfielder who brings value both at the plate and in the field.
Of course, trading Gallo would seemingly signify the Rangers’ intent to launch a full-scale rebuild, something they haven’t committed to over the last few years as they mire in a sort of baseball purgatory. They’ve struggled to build a cohesive position player group, with players like Rougned Odor and Nomar Mazara displaying wild inconsistency interspersed with massive potential. Mazara, of course, is in Chicago while Odor has floundered this year. Texas is hampered by a hefty contract for shortstop Elvis Andrus, whose OPS has plummeted to just .494 on the season.
The Rangers fluttered around .500 with Gallo in the lineup last year, which surely informed their decision to spend the following winter strengthening the Major League roster, trading for Corey Kluber and inking contributors like Todd Frazier, Kyle Gibson, and Jordan Lyles. Evidently, those moves haven’t panned out, and it may be time for the Rangers to reverse course.
With Lynn and Gallo in their possession—arguably the best pitcher and position player on the trade market—the Rangers have the power to shape this year’s trade deadline, which is shaping up to be a seller’s market. Both Lynn and Gallo could be critical pieces for contending teams, the type of trade that pushes a contending team over the top. Right now, they look like the team to watch.