When asked during Spring Training in Surprise, Ariz., Nolan Ryan said point blank the Texas Rangers‘ “area of biggest need is pitching.” As a Hall of Fame hurler himself, it’s easy to see why Ryan would think that, especially considering how well the Rangers have done in the batter’s box over the last three years. The Rangers’ rotation includes four surefire starters and a handful of youngsters vying for the fifth job, at least until Colby Lewis returns from injury. However, if one or more of these players struggles during the season, Texas could very likely make a move for a new starter before the deadline.
Derek Holland is in the rotation now at No. 3, but if he doesn’t improve from his poor 2012 campaign, that could behoove Ryan to make a move before the trade deadline, especially if that’s coupled with struggles by whichever youngster wins the No. 5 job. Sure, the Rangers will be pretty set when Lewis returns regardless, but considering the Rangers’ strong lineup, their history of poor pitching and Ryan’s status as a former hurler, it’s easy to predict his patience wearing thin and him bringing in another Cy Young-caliber starter to bolster the rotation. The Rangers have already been linked to a trade for David Price this offseason, so it’s definitely not farfetched to think that way.
Cody Buckel, Justin Grimm, Kyle McClellan, Nick Tepesch, Randy Wells and Robbie Ross are the six young pitchers trying to make the big-league squad by opening day with the latter being the heavy favorite at this point after his strong rookie performance in the bullpen. Ryan has said he’s confident at least one of these youngsters will step up and mentioned he was impressed with both Perez and Ross last season during their limited work at the MLB level. One of them will most likely win the job with the other seeing a lot of relief work this season, especially after Lewis returns.
If the speculation of Ryan’s comments is legitimate, Price is definitely the most likely trade prospect right now. The fact Texas heavily pursued Zack Greinke this offseason and ended up empty handed even further suggests, along with Ryan’s comments, that the Rangers will be looking to make a move from day one and will turn up the intensity on those efforts if any part of their rotation struggles during the first half of the 2012 season.