Shopping spree.

Dane Dunning takes on the Padres in the first of three games in San Diego.

The Rangers three-game series against the Padres might take on more significance than usual. Instead of wondering what kind of lead the Rangers will have in their division when they leave San Diego, the intrigue is which Padre they might leave town with.

The San Diego Padres are a huge disappointment this season. Expected to contend after piling up so much talent, the Padres have been stuck in the mud and no amount of rocking the car is going to get them out.

They’re five games under .500, in fourth place in the NL West, ten games out of first. But, even more daunting, six games out of third in their division and 6.5 games out of the third wildcard spot.

The Padres are the cautionary tale the Rangers should be aware of. There are no guarantees. Absolutely none. After making it to the NL Championship Series, San Diego won’t even make the playoff this year. 

There are no guarantees.

The Rangers shot is now. It could be next year as well but who’s to say it will be.

There are no guarantees.

Is it possible the Rangers could have five players selected to start the All-Star Game next year, and have six in the game at one time? Yes, it’s possible. But seeing as how that hadn’t happened since 1951, it’s highly doubtful. 

Their window is open now. It might stay open for a long time. Or, ask the Padres, it might slam shut behind them.

There are no guarantees. (Has this been pointed out yet?)

The Padres have three players in particular who could really help the Rangers. Blake Snell, Juan Soto, and Josh Hader.

Starter Blake Snell, after the most rugged start to the season, has been brilliant. He is a free agent at the end of this season. The thirty-year-old lefty was 0-4 with a 5.48 ERA after his first five starts, and 1-6 with a 5.40 ERA on May 19. Since then, though, his ERA has been 0.78. In fact, Snell’s current 2.61 ERA is the lowest in all of baseball right now. To put that into perspective, Nathan Eovaldi’s ERA is 2.69.

Another Padre who should be available is Juan Soto. He was the prize jewel of last year’s trade deadline, the Padres giving up a haul to get him for last year and this year. He, too, is a free agent at the end of the year. Trading him gives San Diego a chance to somewhat replenish the system they gave up getting him. They won’t get as much for three months of Soto as they gave up for a year and three months.

But, Soto will command a big price tag. 

His batting average isn’t as high as it had been all those years with the Nationals, but he’s leading baseball in walks and has an on-base percentage of .417. (He has more walks, by the way, than strikeouts). In fact, Soto’s .918 OPS and 158 OPS+ would be second-best on the Rangers, behind Corey Seager. His on-base is actually a few ticks better than Seager’s.

Josh Hader is a five-time All-Star closer having his best seasons in what has already been a brilliant career. He has twenty-four saves and an ERA of 0.95. Yes, that starts with a zero. 

The Rangers bullpen has blown fifteen win opportunities for Rangers starters, and is tied for fourth worst in baseball with pitiful Colorado, ahead of equally pitiful teams like, Washington, Oakland, and Kansas City. The Rangers cannot win in the playoffs if they don’t vastly improve their bullpen. Josh Hader does that.

The trade deadline is Tuesday. The Rangers might find what they are looking for in San Diego. Wins, and players.

This is the year they need to go for it. Get what they need. Rotation arm, bona fide hitter, and bullpen help. Maybe all three from their old friend AJ Preller, the current Padres GM and former Ranger front office star.

Texas has a real shot this year. Next year? There are no guarantees.