Jon Daniels has made some monumentally franchise altering trades. Jon Daniels has made some monumentally franchise crippling trades.
You take the good with the bad.
As the Rangers begin looking at pieces to deal in order to rehydrate an arid farm system, it’s worth looking at Daniels’ trade history to suggest what we will be seeing in the next seven weeks leading up to the trade deadline.
Like the team he has currently assembled, Daniels is in somewhat of a slump trade-wise, having been fleeced in his most recent deadline deals. But he has made many that turned out golden for the Rangers. Here are the four best. Later, the four worst.
The trade that became The Trade and saved Daniels’s career was the Mark Teixeira deal, an industry-altering trade that set the standard for so many rental-player talent swaps that have come since. Coming off an epic Jon Daniels fleecing in 2006 in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, which followed on the heels of another horrible trade in the Alfonso Soriano deal, Daniels’s career as a GM was tenuous, at best. With Mark Teixeira’s free agency a season-and-a-half away, with Scott Boras as his agent, and with Teixeira’s shaky relationship with Ron Washington, all signals were clear that Teixeira’s future as a Ranger was short lived. In 2007 the Rangers farm system was in shambles. Daniels needed to restock the pantry and found the Atlanta Braves more than willing grocers. The Rangers traded Mark Teixeira and reliever Ron Mahay to Atlanta for Elvis Andrus, Neftali Felix, Matt Harrison, Jared Saltalamacchia and pitcher Beau Jones. Teixeira was dealt a year later to the Angels when the Braves realized rentals are just rentals.
Daniels also struck gold in 2007 when he traded Edinson Volquez for Josh Hamilton. But at the time, it was a huge gamble. Volquez was a third of the vaunted DVD pitching trio of Danks-Volquez-Diamond that was going to transform a historically pitching-deplorable franchise. He traded the future for a four-time suspended drug addict who went to the discovery institute wash out who turned out to be the offensive engine that took the Rangers higher than they had ever gone before. Volquez just threw a no-hitter, and Josh Hamilton is out of baseball after his flame burned out quickly, but it was easily one of Daniels’s two best deals. Without Hamilton, the Rangers don’t go to their two World Series. Without the two World Series, the Rangers don’t get the city of Arlington to build them a new stadium.
Most of Daniels’s more recent trade deadline deals have been a disaster, but the Cliff Lee trade in 2010 was exceptional. It seemed like the Yankees were a lock to land Lee from Seattle, but Daniels stepped in at the last minute, and with the team under bankruptcy, and got Cliff Lee for Blake Beaven, Justin Smoak, Matt Lawson and Josh Leuke. Cliff Lee for Nah, Meh, Who?, and Who?. With Lee, the Rangers made it to their first World Series ever.
Landing Cole Hamels at the trade deadline of 2015 was a brilliant stroke. At the time, the Rangers were in fourth place in the West, just a few games from last place. This was coming off a year they finished last, Ron Washington resigned, and the team was in a trash heap. 2015 was looking a lot like 2014 (2017 is, too, for that matter). Then Daniels traded for Hamels and Jake Diekman. Almost instantly (and with the help of jettisoning Leonys Martin and Tanner Schepper), the Rangers turned it around, methodically moving up the division before eventually overtaking the Astros and Angels and winning the West. You really cannot have a better trade result than that. Time will tell what the players the Phillies got in the deal—Jared Eickholff, Nick Williams, Jake Thompson and Jose Alfaro—will be. But this deal was won from the Rangers’ standpoint already.
So, now the Rangers prepare the task of being sellers at the trade deadline. It’s good to know Jon Daniels has the ability to make blockbuster deals in the Rangers’ favor. Many have backfired, though. But that’s the topic for another day.
Andrew Cashner (2-5, 3.39) vs. Tanner Roark (6-2, 3.95)
Game time: 6:05