The Rangers took some heat for not trading Lance Lynn at the deadline this summer, with most onlookers more than a little befuddled that a last-place Rangers club didn’t move its top pitcher with a year and a half remaining on his contract despite widely reported interest. At the time, president of baseball ops Jon Daniels merely indicated that the offers for Lynn weren’t enticing, but The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal now shines light on the larger reason that Lynn wasn’t moved. Per the report, Lynn would have considered opting out of the remainder of the 2020 season if traded to a club for which he did not wish to pitch. The number of teams to which Lynn would have approved a deal isn’t clear, but that stance obviously tied Daniels’ hands in his efforts to coax an acceptable return out of a trade partner.
Ultimately, of course, the Rangers traded Lynn to the White Sox and landed six years of an immediate rotation replacement, righty Dane Dunning, as well as 2019 sixth-rounder Avery Weems. Now that the trade is in the books, a few more notes on the activity (or lack thereof) surrounding Lynn leading up to the deal…
- Despite considerable uncertainty in the rotation behind Gerrit Cole, the Yankees weren’t engaged with the Rangers on Lynn this winter, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Lynn seemingly checks plenty of boxes for the Yankees, as he’s been baseball’s most durable arm the past two seasons and would only come with a $10MM luxury tax hit (with just $8MM in actual 2021 salary thanks to a slightly front-loaded contract). Sherman suggests on Twitter that Lynn might have cost the Yankees pitching prospect Clarke Schmidt, who is similar to Dunning in that he’s a Top 100 type of arm who made his MLB debut in 2020 (albeit with a more limited workload and less success than Dunning). There’s no indication that the Rangers actually made that ask, but the two righties are indeed somewhat comparable in terms of age, team control and prospect status.
- The Padres, however, were in on Lynn prior to his trade to the White Sox, according to Rosenthal and colleague Jayson Stark (Twitter link). Rosenthal notes that the Friars are concerned about the number of innings their rotation can provide in 2021, which makes sense with Mike Clevinger out for the year due to Tommy John surgery and Dinelson Lamet ending the 2020 campaign due to his own arm troubles. As such, it stands to reason that San Diego will continue to monitor the market for other sources of innings, be it via trade or free agency. The Padres already owe a combined $86.05MM to the group of Manny Machado, Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers, Drew Pomeranz, Clevinger, Craig Stammen, Matt Strahm and Pierce Johnson, and they have arbitration deals yet to work out with Lamet, Tommy Pham, Zach Davies, Emilio Pagan and Dan Altavilla. With needs in the rotation, the bullpen and on the bench, it’s not clear how aggressively they can spend on any one individual piece.
- The Rangers will monitor Dunning’s workload in 2021 after he missed the 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery and pitched just 34 Major League innings in 2020, writes Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Dunning estimates that between simulated games at the White Sox’ alternate training site and that seven-start MLB debut, he tossed around 90 frames in 2020, per Wilson. He’ll be on a similar plan in 2021 to that of fellow young Texas righty Kyle Cody, who also missed 2019 due to surgery. More importantly, Wilson notes that Daniels indicated an intent to pursue some veteran starters to add depth to the rotation in the coming months. It’s not likely that the rebuilding Rangers will be in on any of the market’s top names, of course, but there ought to be plenty of affordable names looking for opportunities later this winter.