About an hour before the first pitch of last night's endlessly frustrating loss to the White Sox, word filtered down from FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi that the Angels had agreed to terms with the Brewers on a trade that would send Zack Greinke to southern California in exchange for shortstop prospect Jean Segura and right-handed starting pitching prospects John Hellweg and Ariel Pena.
The Rangers, meanwhile, ended up dropping out of the Greinke sweepstakes late in the process (much to the chagrin of some of their fans), with initial reports suggesting that the Brewers demanded Mike Olt's inclusion, and, later in the evening, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report indicating that the Rangers' offer for Greinke topped out at Justin Grimm, Chad Bell, and Leury Garcia, which the various and sundry prospect analysts -- including Jason Cole -- believed to be less valuable than the Segura/Hellweg/Pena package that the Brewers ultimately accepted.
Now, though, we're beginning to get a few more details on how the process unfolded, as Ken Rosenthal tweeted a few hours ago that the Rangers were actually willing to include both Grimm and Cody Buckel in their offer, but Brewers general manager Doug Melvin sought an advanced, upper-tier shortstop prospect first and foremost; when that match obviously fell through, Melvin wanted Martin Perez, and the Rangers didn't want to pay that price for a rental pitcher. Rosenthal also added that the Angels' late inclusion of Pena swung the pendulum further away from the Rangers and towards the Angels; meanwhile, MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez noted that Texas was close to acquiring Greinke on Thursday, but the talks disintegrated on Friday, and the Angels moved in, and that was that.
I feel like there are two major questions we need to delve into with respect to the Greinke trade and where the Rangers go from here, and they are ...
(1) Should the Rangers have gone that extra mile -- or, in this case, maybe a couple hundred extra feet -- to procure Greinke? Before we take this any further, let's all just go ahead and acknowledge that moving Jurickson Profar or Elvis Andrus in a Greinke deal wasn't even an option, and that moving even Olt in a Greinke deal would not have constituted a good exchange of present for future value. In that sense, I agree with Keith Law's opinion that Olt for Greinke would have a stupid trade for Texas. The Rangers clearly wanted no part of a deal where they yielded Olt and his six-plus years of club control for two months and the post-season from Greinke, and you realy can't blame them one bit.
That brings us to the matter of whether the Rangers should have swallowed hard, clamped their eyes shut, and included Perez in their offer for Greinke -- a painful decision that, based on the Rosenthal report, probably seals the deal on Greinke. Or maybe it seals it. We don't know. It's difficult to pass judgment even on that notion because we just don't know what else Melvin was seeking in addition to Perez; we don't know whether such a deal would have cost Texas, say, a Perez/Buckel/Garcia package, which seems decidedly stronger than Segura/Pena/Hellweg. The problem is that Melvin apparently really, really wanted a shortstop, but Profar/Andrus were far too good to be considered realistic options, and Garcia seemingly wasn't good enough, while Segura was right in that prospect-value sweet spot.
And, ultimately, this seems to have been a case of the Rangers valuing (and believing in) both Olt and Perez too much to justify moving either for a short-term rotation asset who, I would imagine, they weren't overly confident in being able to sign before he had a chance to shop his services around on the open market this coming winter.
(2) What happens to the Rangers now? With Greinke off the market, Cliff Lee ostensibly off the market, James Shields -- who is a more marginal upgrade than the other arms in this discussion, I think -- supposedly requiring a return more valuable than what Greinke recouped for Milwaukee, and the Marlins reportedly seeking a Mark Teixeira-esque haul for Josh Johnson, the likeliest outcome here appears to be Alexi Ogando (who was purposely stretched out last night) or Neftali Feliz being added to the back of the starting rotation mix, and the Rangers covering for that transition by acquiring a relief pitcher, or something along those lines. There's still time and opportunity for something of major significance to go down on the starting pitching front, but I don't know that anyone should count on that happening.
[For what it's worth, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan writes that the Rangers don't seem to be too high on Johnson, and sas that they won't offer more for Johnson than they did for Greinke ... which, if true, would probably torpedo any chance of a Johnson-to-Texas trade happening within the next couple of days.]
As for the Angels, they've just picked up one win on the low end and probably two wins on the higher end by swapping out Greinke for their worst present starter (Ervin Santana, one would presume), and are a more dangerous team today than they were at this time yesterday; that said, the Rangers are still the favorites to claim the division title, with CoolStandings.com and Baseball Prospectus both still pegging their division-winning odds north of 60 percent, and that's why I disagree with Jon Paul Morosi's stated position that the Rangers now have to do something in order to respond to both their own loss of Greinke and the Angels' acquisition of Greinke. Pining in print for a reactionary trade makes for a good narrative, but that isn't how a smart front office operates.
Yeah, it would be nice if the Rangers countered the Greinke move by upgrading their own rest-of-season win projection via trade, and it would certainly diminish their margin for error (and, in the process, elevate our floundering optimism a bit), but the point is that they don't have to do something. The Angels had to do something. The Tigers had to do something. It's the teams on the playoff bubble that have to do something, not the Rangers. That isn't to say that I don't want to see the Rangers make some sort of move to enhance their roster and incrementally improve their chances of winning both the division and the World Series, but as for the doom-and-gloom crowd that believes Texas is now totally screwed because it missed out on Greinke ... well, I just don't concur.