Rangers pass on deadline.

Rangers prospect Cole Ragans had a solid five-inning major league debut.

It’s always good to read outside perspectives with regards to moves the Rangers make and don’t make. You get closer to the truth than if you listen to only the team and the front office, who’s narratives are carefully controlled to make the future look so bright, you’d have to squint.

If you listen to Jon Daniels, perpetual long-term never-ending success is right around the corner. But in reality, that corner is just one dead end in a maze that seemingly has no way out. The Rangers always seem to be getting better in the minor leagues but never better where it counts.

So, how did the Rangers do at the trade deadline. Depends on who you listen to. Levi Weaver, the Rangers beat writer for The Athletic, said this:

“Coming into July, it appeared the Rangers had a few directions they could go: acquire controllable big-league players that could help them both immediately and for the next few years, or trade some expiring contracts for prospects. In the end, tthey mostly opted to do neither. They made just one trade, sending Matt Bush to the Brewers for 22-year-old LHP Antoine Kelly and 28-year-old IF Mark Mathias. Kelly is a great get in exchange for a 36-year-old reliever, but it’s a bit shocking the team didn’t deal LHP Matt Moore (and a bit less shocking they didn’t deal LHP Martin Perez). GM Chris Young said that the team saw more value in keeping them around, as they’d like to have both guys back next year. Ideally, that means that one or both with be extended before the end of the season. Pérez, specifically, has said he would be open to an extension, and wants to remain with the Rangers, who were his original team before stints in Minnesota and Boston.”

Then, this from The Athletic’s Trade Deadline Report Card:

“Texas Rangers

Grade: D

Trades: Traded RHP Matt Bush to Brewers for NF Mark Mathias and LHP Antoine Kelly.

Antoine Kelly posted a 3.86 ERA in 19 starts this season at High-A Wisconsin. The lefty allowed 60 hits in 91 innings and struck out 119. However, he also issued 52 walks, and I’m not sure he’ll ever have the command or control to make it to The Show. Mark Mathias is a versatile extra player who appeared in six games for the Brewers this season. He can play all over the diamond, including second and first base. Bush, 36, has put up a 2.95 ERA in 40 appearances with the Rangers and is controllable through 2024. I didn’t get this trade at all for the Rangers. They must think they can develop Kelly better than the Brewers could.”

But there’s a third way to look at it. Jon Daniels said the Rangers stood pat because they simply didn’t get the deals they were expecting. Of course he’s going to say that. He has to put topspin on everything.

But maybe the Rangers weren’t able to pull off the kind of trade for Luis Castillo, who would have been the ace of this staff (assuming Perez is not back) the next few seasons because their prospects simply aren’t as valued as the Rangers would have you believe. 

Maybe the Rangers have a whole lot of players no other teams really want.

Whatever your opinion of trading for Juan Soto was, when you see what the Padres gave up to get him, you realize the Rangers are bringing butter knives to a sword fight. The Padres had highly-coveted young major league talent to spare. The Rangers don’t have that, and really haven’t had that for years. The Padres had a bagful of highly-coveted minor league prospects who are just on the cusp of breaking into the big leagues to spare. The Rangers didn’t. Josh Jung is hurt. Then, who else? Bubba Thompson and Cole Ragans did well in their Rangers debuts yesterday but one game does not make a career.

Maybe the reality is there’s a reason the Rangers are ten-games under .500. They just don’t have the talent in their system to compete. And that lack of quality, sought-after, can’t miss talent is what prevented them from beating other teams at the trade deadline for impact, franchise changing players.

Maybe other teams don’t covet Rangers talent as highly as the Rangers do. When you look at the track record of Rangers prospects, you can certainly understand it.

So, the Rangers said they chose to pass on the trade deadline. That’s true when you think about it because a D is, indeed, a passing grade.