The Texas Rangers are considered to be among the biggest trade-deadline winners on the buyers’ side of things. The Rangers added Carlos Beltran, Jonathan Lucroy, and Jeremy Jeffress. However, overall I think Texas should only get an average grade for their trades with the acquisition of Lucroy the best move of the three.
Carlos Beltran, formerly of the New York Yankees, has an OPS this season of .890. However, there’s some fluff to the stat because of the fact that he appears to have benefited from playing in the Bronx, somewhere he won’t be now. His home-and-away splits show that he was a much better hitter when playing in New York than away.
50 home games: .961 OPS, 14 home runs, 38 RBIs, 18 walks
49 away games: .817 OPS, 8 home runs, 26 RBIs, 4 walks
Venue can mean a lot to pitchers and hitters and Yankee Stadium usually scores high for being more friendly to the latter. It will be interesting to see where Beltran’s numbers go now that he is in Texas, but the Rangers should be expecting something far lower than .890 for an OPS in my view.
Pundits that weighed in on the acquisition of Beltran include Richard Justice of MLB.com. He spoke about the former Yankee “being a presence in the clubhouse” but that’s a really ambiguous variable to interject. Furthermore, the Rangers are already a .585 team on the year and, except for Rougned Odor; there aren’t really key players that need a veteran presence to help them grow up in my view.
Justice also spoke positively about Beltran’s career post-season numbers, stats that have been compiled over the long term. With just one game in last year’s post-season, you could argue that Beltran’s stats from years ago have limited insight now that he is almost 40.
At the age of 39, what Beltran’s late-season contributions will be are totally up in the air. He did have an exceptional August last season, with an OPS for August 2015 of 1.066. However, September 2015 was forgettable as he barely went .700 for the month.
If anything, Beltran should be expected to fade a little heading down the stretch of the season due to his age, not blossom. The Rangers definitely added some depth here and injury insurance, but late-season faith in 39-year olds is a cross-your-fingers move, not something you bank on.
In Lucroy, the Rangers added the 2nd-best everyday catcher from a hitting point of view on the whole season. The former Milwaukee Brewer has 13 home runs and an OPS of .841 on the season, strong numbers for his position. But perhaps a bigger benefit with Lucroy is that the Rangers upgraded their throwing arm behind the plate.
The catcher has thrown out 40% of all base stealing attempts against him this season while Texas’ catchers have only thrown out 21% to date. There’s a big improvement there that should make the Rangers harder to score against now.
Lucroy is also likely to be happy in Texas, just due to the change of scenery. Way back in the winter the catcher suggested that he wanted to be traded to a contender in an interview with Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
“I’m not going to sit here and say we’re going to compete for the playoffs (in 2016),” Lucroy claimed very pessimistically. “I want to win, and I don’t see us winning in the foreseeable future. I want to go to a World Series. That’s what all players want. Rebuilding is not a lot of fun for any veteran guy.”
Lastly, Texas also added Jeremy Jeffress from Milwaukee, a right-handed relief pitcher. Jeffress had an excellent July with an ERA for the month of 0.82. Those kind of averages don’t last forever, but his big-picture ERA is still an impressive 2.22.
I like the addition of Jeffress, albeit not as much as the addition of Lucroy. A relief pitcher is never something to get too excited about due to their limited use. Jeffress is an inning-or-less kind of guy and, while pitchers like him can save the day, more often than not it’s the every-inning guys that have the bigger influence.
Overall, even though they probably got duped with Beltran, I think the Rangers are going to put a nail in the coffin of any kind of AL West pennant race now. Houston and Seattle are going to have a tough time chipping away at what is already a big lead. I’m still not sold on the Rangers making the ALCS, but I’m very confident that they will avoid the one-game playoff and book a spot directly in the divisional round with a pennant.