The Texas Rangers won't lose too many key pieces this offseason (as long as they stop messing around with the Jordan Montgomery negotiations), but they're also not keeping up with the arms race we're seeing happen between some of the other top teams in the MLB.
Not every offseason move needs to be a flashy one though, especially when you're the reigning World Series champion.
That's why a quiet low-risk move with some intriguing upside is on my mind for the Rangers right now.
Rangers Rumors: Matt Carpenter a Free Agent Target?
Veteran first baseman/designated hitter Matt Carpenter was released by the Atlanta Braves after being included as filler in the trade that sent Ray Kerr to Atlanta from the San Diego Padres. The 38-year-old isn't exactly the most exciting name on the market, but he could be an interesting player to roll the dice on.
Let me start with the obvious negative. The case against Carpenter is pretty simple: he sucked last year. He's now 38 years old and hit below the Mendoza line in 2023, slashing .176/.322/.319.
And it wasn't like there was some stroke of bad luck leading to those poor numbers. He made terrible contact (career-low 29.4% hard-hit rate, career-high 15.9% soft-hit rate) and had terrible plate discipline (career-high 24.6% swing rate at pitches out of the zone).
So why sign a guy who's clearly past his prime and coming off his worst MLB season?
Well to start with, he's still just one year removed from a stellar 2022 season with the New York Yankees (.305/.412/,727 with 15 home runs and 37 RBI in just 154 plate appearances).
And the fact that his peripheral numbers (discipline, contact) were so low in 2023 actually makes him kind of an easy piece to analyze this year. Those issues become clear a lot more quickly than harder-to-explain production issues. If he's showing terrible discipline and not hitting the ball well when he does make contact that's something that will be obvious fast — maybe even in Spring Training. Then you can go ahead and cut ties. He doesn't need to take up a roster spot or block younger players from getting in on the action.
But if he does show that last year only a hiccup, that his eye is back and he's got some pop in his bat, that's also obvious pretty quickly.
Carpenter's not going to be an every-day starter or anything, but as a DH option who is capable of playing at first base and serving as a great pinch-hitting option? That's the kind of upside that can really give this offense a boost.
Nobody's going to give you an A+ offseason grade for signing Carpenter, but these are the kind of quiet moves that can add up and make a big difference down the stretch. And just as importantly, if it doesn't work out there's not a whole lot of downside to the move either.
As things stand, the Rangers check in tied for the fourth-best odds to win the 2024 World Series, offering a winning payout of 10-to-1.
In other Texas Rangers news:
Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.