By Josh Clark
DALLAS (105.3 The Fan) – Three days remain before the MLB trade deadline and the Rangers appear to be ready to move their ace.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported Thursday night that the Rangers have informed clubs that they will trade Yu Darvish before Monday’s deadline.
So what would Texas want in return for Darvish’s services?
For this exercise, we’ll focus on the team that makes the most sense as a trade partner, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
According to Baseball America, the Dodgers have four of the top 100 prospects in baseball, which makes for an ideal match if you’re looking to retool your roster
Texas isn’t going into full-blown rebuild mode as they already have some key young players in place in Mazara, Odor, Gallo and even Andrus.
What’s clearly missing from that group of young players is pitching.
The Dodgers have three young pitchers that Texas should absolutely be interested in.
Walker Buehler (#17 on Baseball America’s list), Yadier Alvarez (#60), and Julio Urias, who was ranked as high as N0. 4 on Baseball America’s list before falling off of it completely. Urias is the least likeliest to be traded from this group because he’s out until the middle of 2018 after undergoing shoulder surgery.
According to MLB.com, Buehler “has the look of a front of the rotation starter.” He operates in the 90-96 mph range with his fastball, has a good slider and curveball, and is working on his changeup.
The right-hander was selected 24th overall out of Vanderbilt in the 2015 MLB draft. He underwent Tommy John surgery following the draft and missed the entire 2016 season.
Across 18 appearances at three levels of the minors in 2017, Buehler is 2-3 in 70.1 innings of work. He holds a 3.33 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and has struck out 100 batters.
In his most recent appearance at Triple-A Oklahoma City, the 23-year-old gave up one run on one hit and two walks, while striking out nine in five innings of work.
Alvarez, 21, is more of a question mark at this point but he has frontline starting potential as well.
According to MLB.com, Alvarez, signed out of Cuba, has an overpowering fastball that sits in the 94-97 mph range and peaks at times in the triple digits.
The right-hander throws three secondary pitches that have plus-potential, but he’s yet to fully command them.
In 26 starts in the minors, he’s 6-7 with a 3.74 ERA. He’s struck out 147 hitters in 122.2 innings of work.
He’s currently on the Dodgers Double-A team in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
On the offensive side of things, The Dodgers have a center fielder and second-baseman/outfielder that would certainly peak the interest of the Rangers.
Alex Verdugo (#35) and Willie Calhoun (#74) are names surely to come up in a possible deal for Darvish.
Verdugo, a second-round selection out of high school in 2014, is hitting .328 to go along with 4 home runs and 51 RBI in 341 at-bats at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
MLB.com says the left-handed hitter has a “line-drive approach” and “excels at recognizing pitches, managing the strike zone and squaring up the ball.”
Calhoun, 22, was selected in the 4th round of the 2015 draft out of Yavapai College in Arizona.
According to MLB.com, Calhoun “has a quick bat and a knack for making contact, and he might do even more damage once he learns to wait a little better for pitches he can drive. He could be a .280 hitter with 20 or more homers per season at his peak.”
The 20 home runs would be good for a second-baseman, however, Calhoun isn’t great defensively and has already started getting action in left field.
Calhoun is hitting .302 with 23 home runs and 67 RBI in 364 at-bats at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
On Friday morning, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reported that the Dodgers weren’t offering what the Rangers wanted in return for Darvish.
I suspect that means Texas is wanting at least one of these four prospects.