Empty shelves.

Once again, the Rangers made it to the altar. As bridesmaids but not the bride.

They lost out on Anthony Rendon and settled for Todd Frazier. Like going for a Tesla and coming home with a used Dodge Lancer.

They lost out on Zack Wheeler and settled for Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles. Like going for a BMW and coming home with two used Dodge Lancers.

With other, stronger, more impactful catchers available, they got fan favorite Robinson Chirinos. The used Dodge Lancer has brand new tires.

They had interest in Nicholas Castellanos to play first but lost out on him to Cincinnati. 

They had interest in Starling Marte but lost out on him to Arizona.

In a statement that is perhaps the best ever example of the blinding glimpse of the obvious, Rangers general manager told T.R. Sullivan, “You can always get better.”

Yes, a team that has, collectively, been under .500 for the past seven seasons can always get better.

The problem is, now all the top free agents have been picked up. All that’s left is slim pickings. It’s like deciding to do your Christmas shopping at eleven pm Christmas Eve. The shelves have been cleaned out. All that’s left is a quart of 30-weight motor oil, a Lady Bic Shaver, and a pack of clove-flavored gum. “Here you go, honey, Merry Christmas.”

All of which prompted Daniels to acknowledge that they will have to pursue the trade route now.

That’s a shame. He had an incredibly strong class of free agent talent just sitting there for the choosing, and all he had to pay to get it was money, the most abundant commodity in baseball. Now, in order to improve what is one of the weaker offensive lineups in baseball, he is going to have to pay money and prospects, or money and prospects and major league talent.

That’s not to say he can’t or won’t pull off a trade that will have a significantly positive impact. But the bigger the impact, the more prospects and money he is going to have to dispose of. When, before, all he had to dispose of was money.

Horse trading is hard.