1. Trade for Yu Darvish (or Cole Hamels)
Trades between division rivals are rare, and the Rangers aren’t out of contention just yet. In fact, after winning two games in a three-game set in Kansas City right after the All-Star break, Texas is only 2.5 games out in the Wild Card race. However, if things take a turn for the worse over the next two weeks, Texas may be willing to part with one of its top assets – ace Yu Darvish – who will be a free agent at the end of the season.
Darvish has been outstanding throughout his five-year major league career, posting a 3.32 ERA and 3.25 FIP in 120 starts since signing with the Rangers out of Japan. The 30-year-old right-hander is 6-8 with a 3.45 ERA and 3.73 FIP with 131 strikeouts in 125.1 innings this season, and was selected to his fourth All-Star Game.
Though Darvish is the most likely Rangers starter to move before the MLB trade deadline because his contract ends after this season, Texas might be tempted to trade Cole Hamels as well if the team stumbles before July 31. Hamels has been limited to just nine starts this season due to injury, but is 4-0 with a 3.05 ERA. The 33-year-old lefty is signed through 2018 with a team option and vesting option for 2019.
If the Astros are able to convince the Rangers to deal Darvish or Hamels, the club should also enquire about Delino DeShields. The 24-year-old speedster plays good defense and has 19 stolen bases in 23 attempts this season. DeShields is hitting .283/.341/.364 with two homers in 69 games, and could be a long-term option in centerfield, with the capability of shoring up the outfield defense in the late innings during this year’s pennant race.