Less than 24 hours after the Cubs’ historic World Series win, the Texas Rangers have already begun making moves. They’re doing it right, too.
With the 2016 baseball season now officially in the past, the Texas Rangers front office is wasting no time. Given the way the season ended for Texas, there really isn’t any time to waste in the first place. That’s why the three moves Jon Daniels and company made Thursday were completely necessary.
Starting pitcher Derek Holland
While this isn’t officially a “move,” per se, it is a critical decision that the Texas Rangers came to Thursday. According to MLB beat writer T. R. Sullivan, the Rangers have decided they will not pick up southpaw Derek Holland‘s option for 2017.
It’s a bitter-sweet choice Texas has made about Holland. Once a primary prospect within the organization, “The Dutch Oven” became a lightning rod amongst Rangers fans during the 2011 postseason.
While Texas was trailing 2-0 in game five of the World Series, FOX commentators put a headset on Holland and asked him to do some impersonations. Many of the Rangers faithful became enraged that he would entertain people with a camera in his face while his team fought on the field.
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They seemed to forget that his personality had endeared many of the fans throughout the early portion of his career. Perhaps they didn’t remember that he was having a little fun the night after going 8 1/3 scoreless innings in game four to take a 4-0 win and even the series at two. I’m sure they didn’t recall his solid 16-5 regular season record with a 3.95 earned run average and a American League-leading four shutouts.
Honestly, that game four performance was the signature moment of his Rangers career. It was exactly what Texas needed that night after having received such a severe drubbing in game three. Since then, his career has fizzled. Injuries played the biggest role, but he’s still yet to find that spark he had that season.
Center fielder Ian Desmond
After moving from shortstop to center field to join the Rangers, Ian Desmond put together a very strong season. His .285 average, 22 home runs, 86 runs batted in and 107 runs scored were pivotal to Texas’s success in 2016.
The three-time silver slugger was also selected as an All-Star for the second time in his career. Therefore, it was a very wise decision for the Rangers to extend him a qualifying offer. Granted, it’s not a cheap one at $17.2 million. It also doesn’t guarantee his return. It does guarantee though, that Texas would receive a compensatory draft pick next June**.
Considering the value he brought to Arlington in 2016, Desmond deserved at least the qualifying offer. It would be outstanding to see him return with Texas. However, it helps to get something in return in the event that he goes elsewhere.
Catcher Jonathan Lucroy
Backstop Jonathan Lucroy hasn’t worn a Rangers uniform for long. Despite that, his impact has been tremendous to the organization. That’s why Daniels exercised the club option for 2017 on his contract.
In just 47 games after his arrival via trade, he belted 11 home runs and drove in 31 runs. If that was tripled to 141 games (pretty typical for a full-time catcher), then he’d have finished with 33 home runs and 93 RBI.
He brings huge defensive help, too. The noticeable efficiency in how Yu Darvish pitched after his arrival was most noticeable. Rangers pitchers also averaged 8.26 strikeouts per nine innings with Lucroy behind the plate. That’s a full strikeout average above the team’s rate for the entire season.
He calls a great game, holds baserunners well, hits the ball hard, drives in runs and gets on base. To let him walk would have been foolish.
There is still plenty left to do this offseason. But based on the first day, the Rangers are off to a good start. Where will they finish? Let’s hope we don’t find that out until November 2017.