Aug 26, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Texas Rangers relief pitcher Tanner Scheppers (52) pitches to the Seattle Mariners during the 9th inning at Safeco Field. Texas defeated Seattle 8-3. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
In this difficult offseason, the Texas Rangers have many questions that need answers:
– Who will be the DH next season?
– Who will be in the starting rotation?
– Will Texas bring Nelson Cruz back and what will it cost to do so?
– What going to happen with Jurickson Profar?
This offseason we have been tackling the questions facing the Texas Rangers. Make no mistake – there are many. First we discussed the Middle Infield Situation. The Rangers have three excellent Middle Infielders but only two Middle Infield positions. Then we transitioned to the dilemma at first base.
Elvis Andrus is locked in at SS, that much is sure. His fielding and contract essentially demand he plays there and prevents him from being traded. Ian Kinsler is tradeable but not as valuable on the market as he is to the Rangers. The likelihood of a trade involving Kinsler is slim at best. Jurickson Profar is extremely tradeable, but only for the right piece. The Rangers are guarding their top asset like gold and don’t plan to trade him for just anything.
But with Profar needing to play fulltime, current 2B starter Ian Kinsler or Jurickson himself will need to switch positions. The most likely solution at this point is Kinsler moving to 1st base to make room for Jurickson at 2nd. A move like this would easily build one of the very best infields in MLB.
Which brings us to today…
Sep 13, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers relief pitcher Neftali Feliz (30) in the dugout after the seventh inning of the game against the Oakland Athletics at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Finding the Closer
With incumbent closer, Joe Nathan, recently declining the Rangers 2014 option, the Rangers are once again in the market for a closer. It’s not unfathomable for Nathan and the Rangers to agree on deal to bring him back, but it’s unlikely.
Nathan is seeking a high-paying multiyear deal while the Rangers prefer to only commit to one year. With all of the interest shown in Nathan so far, it’s probable he will get the multiyear deal he is seeking, from a team other than the Rangers. The Detroit Tigers being the current frontrunner.
This may sound like bad news to Rangers fans but the reality is, they don’t need him. Of course, he’d be nice to get back but with so many other questions on the team, the money is best spent elsewhere.
The Rangers boasted one of the best bullpens in the league last season and 2014 should be no different. The Rangers currently hold multiple options to replace their closer and will not need to look outside the organization to fill the potentially vacated spot.
Former closer, Neftali Feliz, is in the mix after recovering from Tommy John surgery and failing to establish a spot in the starting rotation. It’s hard to ignore his World Series meltdown so the chances of him winning the closer role is fairly slim.
Sep 25, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers relief pitcher Joakim Soria (28) throws during the ninth inning against the Houston Astros at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
The most likely closers are Joakim Soria and Tanner Scheppers. Like Feliz, Soria is also coming back from Tommy John surgery. But Soria is thought to have a better mental make-up to succeed as a closer. Tanner Scheppers was a beast out of the bullpen in 2013, save for a short rough patch near the end of the summer.
If Scheppers can duplicate his success in 2014, he could be the key to another dominant bullpen.
While it seems likely Joe Nathan has pitched his last game in a Rangers uniform, Rangers fans needn’t worry. They have 3 capable options competing for the all-important spot. Most teams would kill for just one of them.
Instead, worry about the outfield.
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