Texas Rangers (78-84), tied for 3rd in AL West
Free Agents: Tony Barnette, Andrew Cashner, Carlos Gomez, Miguel Gonzalez, Jason Grilli, Mike Napoli
The Texas Rangers are coming into this offseason after a disappointing 78-84 finish to the 2017 season. The club was not in contention by the trade deadline and it resulted in them dealing their ace and pending free agent Yu Darvish to the Dodgers at the trade deadline. The Rangers also traded Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress away at the deadline in an attempt to stockpile their underwhelming farm system that features just two top-100 prospects according to MLB Pipeline.
A major problem for the Rangers was their pitching staff, who ranked in the bottom third in the American League in most statistics. Most notably, the Rangers ranked 11th in team ERA at 4.66. The Rangers current ace, the aging Cole Hamels dealt with some injury issues limiting him to just 24 starts, but the rest of the rotation had disappointing years, aside from Andrew Cashner.
On the offensive side, the Rangers also struggled to a .244 batting average, which ranked 13th in the American League. A major part of the problem for Texas was the strikeouts, where the club’s hitters combined to strikeout the fourth most in the MLB. As a result, players like Joey Gallo, Mike Napoli, and Rougned Odor struggled to hit to a clip above the Mendoza Line.
So what will the Rangers look to do this offseason to fix many of the problems with the current roster? To begin, the Rangers have the most international spending money available, which makes them a potential destination for two-way Japanese sensation Shohei Otani. The Rangers can offer a signing bonus of $3.535-million, with the next team being the Yankees, who can offer a $3.25-million signing bonus. With that, the Rangers may look to add Otani to become their ace, and also find a spot in the lineup on days that he is not pitching.
On top of Otani, there is also an outside shot that the Rangers make a run at bringing back Darvish in free agency this year. Darvish presents himself as one of the top arms on this winter’s market, but there is a need and a fit for Darvish, so it would not be too surprising to see the Rangers kicking the tires on a Darvish reunion.
Moreover, the Rangers will look to add a bat, as there are rumors that Jay Bruce may be interesting in signing with the team. According to a report by Abbey Mastracco of NJ.com, Bruce would love to play for one of the Rangers or the Astros, though he may not fit on either roster.
On the trade market, the Rangers should look to trade Shin-Soo Choo, who is owed $62-million over the next three seasons. Granted, the Rangers would likely have to eat much of the money owed to him in order to move him, but with Willie Calhoun making his debut last season, the Rangers may need to free up some space to get him regular playing time next season.
The Rangers should be an interesting team to watch going forward this winter. With a talented roster, the Rangers could be a few moves away from becoming a contender once again next season. But with so many question marks surrounding the franchise, it is also fair to wonder if the Rangers could be entering a stretch of losing seasons down the road.