It is premature to call it a plan, for it is more like a concept. Yet the notion of pulling off what would be quite the creative exacta appears to be crystalizing within the Rangers’ front office as the Feb. 25 trade deadline approaches.
That is, the Blueshirts are mulling an approach in which they would swap premium rental properties Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello for a combined bundle of picks and prospects before then re-signing the now-pending free agents when they hit the open market on July 1.
Now, listen. Nothing would be set in stone. No promises have been made. The idea is germinating as the opportunity presents itself. Indeed, general manager Jeff Gorton and his lieutenants must steer clear of any suggestion of pre-tampering. And this type of approach would be fraught with risk, for there is always the possibility that no matter how often Zuccarello and Hayes pledge their loyalty to Broadway, they could, A) fall in love with their new environs once traded and decide to re-up with their new teams; or, B) be overwhelmed with offers the Rangers might not be able to (or care to) match when they become free agents.
es become the plan and it does come to fruition, it would be tantamount to what the Yankees pulled off in 2016, when they sent Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs for a passel of young assets including Gleyber Torres before signing the elite lefty closer as a free agent the following offseason. Thus, ideally, the path to contention would accelerate within the rebuild by “retaining” core pieces Hayes and Zuccarello but reintroducing them into an organization bolstered by their departures.