Coming off a last place finish in the AL, where do the Texas Rangers go from here?
118 days. That’s how many days represent the offseason, beginning with free agency and capping off with the first pitch of Spring Training.
MLB free agency began Nov. 1. Fans are still awaiting the first ‘big fish’ to sign somewhere. Spring Training is scheduled to begin Feb. 27 with Opening Day slotted for April 1.
Texas Rangers fans just endured one of the worst seasons in franchise history (.367 winning %). Not only were circumstances disheartening, as we could not attend games in the newly inaugurated stadium, but, the team was straight up bad. Bad enough, in fact, the club is slotted for the 2nd overall pick in the draft.
So, now what?
There are decisions to be made all over the roster. How will ownership address all of them?
1. How will they address the rotation?
Entering the 2020 season, there was extreme optimism surrounding the starting rotation of the Texas Rangers
I know I wasn’t the only one saying, “this could be the best starting 5 in team history.”
The hopes were on justified grounds. The Rangers projected rotation looked like this:
- Lance Lynn (3.67 ERA / 208 IP in 2019 w/ Texas)
- Mike Minor (3.59 ERA / 208 IP in 2019 w/ Texas)
- Corey Kluber (2-time Cy Young winner w/ Cleveland acquired via trade)
- Kyle Gibson (4.57 career ERA in 7 seasons w/ Minnesota)
- Jordan Lyles (2.45 ERA over 11 starts w/ Milwaukee the year prior)
It’s also worth noting, Lynn and Minor finished top 8 in Cy Young voting in 2019.
The Rangers pitching staff was forecasted by many (including yours truly) to be great. Boy, were we wrong.
Lance Lynn was great. Aside from him, the other 4 projected starters were vastly disappointing.
- Minor (5.60 ERA in 6 starts before being traded to Oakland)
- Kluber (pitched 1 inning before landing on season-ending IL)
- Gibson (5.35 ERA, 3rd worst among qualified starters)
- Lyles (7.02 ERA / surrendered nearly 2 HRs per 9 innings)
Add it all up and you get a 5.32 ERA from Rangers starters. That was good for 22nd in MLB.
Minor is a free agent. The Rangers elected to not pick up Kluber’s option for 2021, making him a free agent. Lynn enters next season in the final year of his contract with Texas as his name continues to flood trade rumor headlines. Gibson is signed through 2022 and Lyles through 2021, but are clearly not the answer.
So, how will this disappointing, bad rotation be fixed? After all, its essentially a requirement in today’s game for a club to boast a strong pitching staff if it wants contending status.
Here’s are the Rangers options:
1. Sign a bona fide ace
- Solution: Trevor Bauer
- Likelihood: less than 0%
Bauer is the premier arm on the market right now. He’d make any team’s pitching staff better immediately upon signing. Lynn and Bauer would be an awesome duo. However, the Rangers are not in a win-now mode. GM Jon Daniels is on record of saying the team “won’t spend big.” Although Bauer would be fun and make the Rangers better, he isn’t the answer right now.
2. Shop small and buy time
- Solution: Guys like Jerad Eickhoff, Matt Shoemaker, Zack Godley, or Chris Archer
- Likelihood: 75-85%
This is most likely the route management will go. Texas does have promising young arms. Kyle Cody and Wes Benjamin looked good in limited time last year and the club boasts significant depth at the Minor League level. Veteran arms looking to rejuvenate their careers can be brought in on the cheap. Pitchers like this would have the opportunity to prove they still have what it takes to pitch with success in the bigs, while the Rangers spend a little money to buy time for their young arms to develop. It’s a win-win.
3. Roll with watcha got
- Solution: Lynn, Gibson, Lyles, Benjamin, Kolby Allard)
- Likelihood: 35-45%
This rotation would be bad. But, after all, this whole team will likely be bad in 2021. The best case scenario for this rotation would be Lynn continuing ace-type work and increasing his trade value, Gibson and Lyles eating innings, and Benjamin and Allard growing in large roles, showing potential for being front-line starters in the future. It’s possible this is the route Texas goes, but unlikely. This team isn’t going to compete for a title next year, but they do want to be competitive.