Despite vast interest from around the majors, the Rangers decided to retain right-hander Lance Lynn through at least the rest of the season. The Braves were among the teams in on Lynn, but the Rangers understandably placed a high asking price on the AL Cy Young contender and his year-plus of affordable control. Texas wanted either Cristian Pache or Drew Waters from Atlanta as the headliner in a package for Lynn, according to David O’Brien of The Athletic, though the Braves clearly were unwilling to part with either of the highly touted outfield prospects.
Both Pache and Waters are 21-year-old outfielders who rank among the game’s top 50 prospects, and it stands to reason that the Rangers would’ve pushed for additional pieces to be added. Had either Pache or Waters changed hands in a deal with Texas or another club, they’d have been the highest-ranked prospect dealt in a deadline season that was punctuated more by players to be named later and mid-tier prospects.
The Braves and the Dodgers were known to be in on Lynn, with L.A. reportedly making a late push but ultimately failing to close a deal. Specific names that were discussed haven’t come to light, but Rangers president of baseball operations Jon Daniels made clear that sufficient value wasn’t presented.
“I would not have been proud of some of those deals if we made them,” Daniels told reporters following the deadline (link via Sam Blum of the Dallas Morning News). “I don’t think our fans would have been happy about it, either.”
All of the top baseball operations execs involved in Lynn discussions has made similar statements in the hours and days since the deadline passed. Via Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register, Dodgers president of baseball ops Andrew Friedman acknowledged his efforts to add an “impactful” starter who could’ve lined up behind Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw in the postseason rotation. Lynn fits that description following his past season-plus with the Rangers, but Friedman characterized those as talks that never “got all that close.”
Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos, meanwhile said in a recent radio appearance on 92.9 The Game that his club set a threshold they weren’t willing to cross — much as they do with regard to free-agent negotiations. “The moves that we could’ve made, for us, would not have been good deals,” Anthopoulos said. “…It just came down to — and it’s no knock on anybody — we made the decision that the price for us, we didn’t think that made sense.”
Daniels and the Rangers will have another opportunity to shop Lynn this winter, and while they’re now only marketing one season of Lynn (and one postseason push involving him), interest should still be high as long as Lynn remains healthy. If the 2021 season sees a return to a standard 10-team postseason field, clubs may be more motivated to add impact pieces like Lynn, knowing that multiple postseason spots in each league have been eliminated. That doesn’t guarantee a huge return for the Rangers, of course, but a full season of a high-end starter on a below-market contract ($8MM in 2021) and the right to make him a qualifying offer after the season should still be able to fetch a respectable haul.