Even If Traded, Joe Nathan Unlikely To Bring Texas Rangers What They Need

By Thom Tsang
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Even Adrian Beltre, who is 0-for-7 in his last two games, may be feeling the weight on the crumbling Texas Rangers offense on his shoulders.

Having been shut out three times in the last four games and carrying an unsurprising four-game losing streak as they find themselves falling 6.5 games back of the division-leading Oakland Athletics, the crew in Arlington is anything but the run-scoring machine that they’ve been known for these days.

In fact, only the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies have scored fewer runs than the Rangers’ 20 over the last seven days — not exactly what you’d call good company.

So yes, the team is looking for a bat; and according to insiders like Ken Rosenthal and Buster Olney, they’re even willing to trade their All-Star closer Joe Nathan if that’s what it takes to get a defibrillator on this flat-lining offense.

Whether the veteran will actually get them that kind of return, however, may be a different story.

This is not to say that Texas won’t be able to get a good asset if they did decide to trade Nathan, of course, but what they need is not just someone merely good — ie. a top-10 organizational prospect — but rather someone who can come in to make an impact right away, and that’s where they might run into some issues.

Forget for the moment that there are a fair share of teams still selling relievers (San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers), the buyer in the market has thinned out now that the Detroit Tigers have found their man in Jose Veras. Yes, the Boston Red Sox (and others) still need a reliever, but what would they be willing to give the Rangers in return? Texas needs a Jacoby Ellsbury-like spark, and they’re not getting him in that deal.

There have been suggestions that the Los Angeles Dodgers may be a fit if they are willing to move Andre Either, but could the Rangers really say that’s the piece that will put them over? The outfielder is not only expensive (owed $69 million from 2014 through 2017), but has never been more than a 3.2 fWAR player in any season.

Even if he is recently heating up with a .861 OPS in July, his .742 overall in 2013 suggests that he is no sure thing.

So with good arms like John Axford and Luke Gregerson still available, the Rangers would be competing with other sellers too — just to get a bat that might not help them all that much.

No, if Texas wants a bat, they’re going to have to pay up in top prospects with the likes of Jurickson Profar, just as they needed to trade Mike Olt to get Matt Garza. As good as Nathan is, his price tag and availability of other arms may scare the market off, which is to say that it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for the Rangers to pursue it because what they want isn’t a piece of the future so much as a sure thing now.

Now … are the Miami Marlins still not listening on Giancarlo Stanton?

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