The Rangers sit seven games back in the Wild Card race, sporting a 42-49 record. While they’ve outscored opponents by seven runs on the year and have shown some signs of progress after back-to-back last place finishes, they’re unlikely to reach the postseason in 2022. Impending free agents on non-playoff teams are straightforward trade candidates at every trade deadline, making a Martín Pérez swap viable on paper.
However, both the left-hander and Texas general manager Chris Young have expressed a desire to extend their relationship beyond this season. Talks have not yet gotten underway, but the mutual interest in a long-term contract could keep the Rangers from flipping him to a contender. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes that Pérez is indeed “unlikely to be traded” this summer. Grant suggests the sides could delay the start of extension talks until after the August 2 trade deadline in recognition of the front office’s more pressing need to address other trade possibilities before circling back to try to hammer out an extension next month.
For the front office to forgo the opportunity to deal Pérez this summer before even opening extension talks with his representatives, they’d have to be confident in their ability to work out a long-term deal. Whether the qualifying offer system will remain in place is to be determined over the coming days — the union and league have until next Monday to agree on an international draft that would eliminate the QO — but Pérez would be a longshot QO candidate anyhow. While he’s fresh off a first career All-Star selection and owns a sparkling 2.68 ERA through 111 innings this season, he’d allowed more than four earned runs per nine in each season between 2014-21. He’s demonstrated strong control and induced lofty ground-ball rates, but he’s still missing bats and striking batters out at a lower than average rate.
If the club doesn’t (or is unable to) issue him a QO, Texas would run the risk of losing Pérez for nothing in free agency (barring some other form of draft compensation under a new system attached to the international draft). At the same time, the veteran hurler has gone on record a few times in recent weeks about his desire to stick in Arlington. It’s understandable if Young and president of baseball operations Jon Daniels are bullish on their chances of keeping him around beyond 2022.
It could be an interesting deadline in general for the Rangers, as if the intent is to keep Perez, they’re lacking in obvious trade candidates despite their record and long-shot playoff odds. Rental relievers like Matt Moore and Garrett Richards could be available — Richards has struggled of late but was quite sharp until his past two appearances — but the majority of the Texas roster seems likely to remain in place. If anything, given the team’s desire to push into a win-now mindset and return to contention as soon as 2023, the Rangers could look to gear up for that post-2022 run and add pieces that are controllable beyond the current season, much as they did over the winter when inking Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Jon Gray to long-term deals.