With all due respect to the Texas Rangers, who enjoyed a marvelous weekend at Minute Maid Park, what they did against the Houston Astros isn’t the biggest news involving the organization.
The non-waiver trade deadline, which arrives Tuesday, continues to hang over the Rangers. Keone Kela, Jake Diekman and Adrian Beltre are the three most prominent names, but the Rangers have listened on multiple others.
Joey Gallo and Shin-Soo Choo are unlikely to be traded, sources said, but it would not be a surprise to see any reliever moved. As general manager Jon Daniels said on Friday, the Rangers are at the point where they must listen to all offers.
Daniels and others in the front office relocated to Phoenix late Sunday morning to hunker down for the final 36 hours before deadline hits. The Rangers were to arrive later in the day ahead of their two-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
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They did so after a 4-3 victory that completed a three-game sweep of the American League West leaders and defending world champions. Mike Minor allowed two runs in six innings, and Delino DeShields, Jurickson Profar and Ronald Guzman collected an RBI double apiece.
Kela played a role, too, allowing a run in the ninth but hanging on for his 24th save of the season. He admitted afterward that all the trade talk has been on his mind.
“I won’t sit here and lie and say I don’t think about it,” Kela said. “I’ve definitely thought about it more than usual because I’ve seen my name. I’ve had my family asking me, ‘What are we going to do if you get traded?’ I’m just happy that this whole situation will be over in a couple days and I can solidify myself wherever I may go.”
Sources indicated that nothing was imminent Sunday, but contenders have been aggressive in their pursuits and the Rangers have been actively scouting the minor leagues.
They had two scouts in Scranton, Pa., on Sunday to watch Atlanta Braves prospect Luiz Gohara pitch for Triple A Gwinnett. He made his MLB debut last year against the Rangers.
But the scouts might have been there to watch another Braves prospect, fellow left-hander Kolby Allard, who was scratched from his start and pushed Gohara into his spot.
A source said that the Braves have little interest in moving their young pitchers, but do have need for relief help even after acquiring Brad Brach from the Baltimore Orioles.
Kela seems almost certain to be moved as multiple contenders have shown interest in the Rangers’ closer. The Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates have also been in on Kela.
He would likely produce a big return, primarily because he can’t become a free agent until after the 2020 season. But Kela has also been wildly effective in his first season at closer, saving his first 23 chances before blowing a save Tuesday.
His one inning Sunday was his first action since. He walked two and threw more balls than strikes, but he also pumped five straight 97 mph fastballs to George Springer before an 84 mph curveball that produced the game-ending pop out with the tying run at second base.
Through all the talk, the Rangers played their best series of the season despite the Friday trade of Cole Hamels. Their performance shouldn’t be overshadowed, but it will be.
The players, though, have done their best to turn off the rumor mill by first pitch.
“With the trade of Hamels and you guys asked all the questions and the rumors, this group of guys, they want to play baseball,” manager Jeff Banister said. “I think their sanctuary is out on the field. You see it in the energy and by how they play. They put a lot of that stuff behind them for the game.”