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MLBTR 2022-23 Offseason Chat: Texas Rangers
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Steve Adams
Greetings Rangers fans! Sorry for the delayed nature of this chat. When I first published the Rangers outlook (which feels like a hundred years ago now), we'd not yet made the decision to do team-specific chats, and I was buried pretty deep in the Top 50 Free Agent project for a good while thereafter.

Anyhow! We'll take an hour or so today to talk Rangers. Looking forward to it! Feel free to submit questions early, and be sure to check back at 1pm CT to follow along/ask questions in real-time!
In the meantime, you can check out some details on our free weekday morning newsletter and on our Trade Rumors Front Office subscription, which includes ad-free viewing, regular subscriber-only chats and mailbags, exclusive columns (from Anthony Franco and myself) and fantasy baseball advice (from Brad Johnson) in your email inbox, plus autograph giveaways and more.

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Looking forward to chatting at 1:00 CT today!
Hey there Rangers fans (or, I guess, Rangers haters who are curious what they might do?) Let's get underway!
kurt the hurt
Could use a veteran starter to bolster this pitching staff, any ideas who they might target?
Steve Adams
Pretty much any high-end free agent starting pitcher. That includes deGrom, Verlander, Carlos Rodon and NPB star Kodai Senga.

I think there's a very select few teams who'll be willing to give deGrom the type of contract he's looking for, and I picked the Rangers to be the team do it back on our annual Top 50 list:
Hello win column
Leody in center. Bubba in left. Is that too much youth for 2/3 of the outfield? What are the chances the rangers throw some cash to Bellinger on a one year prove it?
Steve Adams
There's just no way they can start Bubba Thompson. He needed a .389 BABIP to even post a .265/.302/.312 batting line. I'll allow that his speed can give him a higher BABIP than normal, but not 80-90 points better than league average -- particularly not when he made less hard contact than just about anyone in the league
The speed is crazy, and maybe you carry him as a fourth outfielder, but he can't be viewed as a starter. I wouldn't give Leody the starting nod, either, but that's more defensible.

The Rangers should absolutely be willing to sign Bellinger, Gallo, or just about any outfielder -- Nimmo included. They spent half a billion dollars last winter, and there's no sense in easing off the gas pedal now.
Curious fan
Do we ride with heim and garver behind the dish or spend some money to try to get one of the top catchers on the market?
Steve Adams
I'm sure Garver will get some time at catcher, but DH is likelier. Jonah Heim gives them a pretty decent option at catcher, and Sam Huff is still in the upper minors. I don't think someone like Willson Contreras should be a priority, necessarily, but if he's lingering and struggling to find a deal he likes, the Rangers swooping in opportunistically a few months down the line would make sense, sure.
Ranger Stranger
Any chance we see Brock Burke as a starter?  Or will he stay in a multi-inning relief role?  Seems like he could tandem start with Odorizzi and hopefully they go 7 innings combined.
Steve Adams
He has experience as a starter, but he threw nearly two-thirds fastballs in 2022 and didn't have a great single secondary complement to it. Velo jumped three miles per hour in shorter stints. The results were great. I don't think you mess with it. He'll go multiple innings sometimes, as he did in '22, but I wouldn't plug him back into the rotation at this point, no.
Lance L
Do you think the Rangers give serious consideration in signing Willson Contreras? They don’t have a frontline catcher anywhere in their system and Heim in a backup role is much better.
Steve Adams
Fair bit of Contreras questions here, so we'll touch on this a bit more.
Jonah Heim was a decent-hitting, strong-fielding catcher in 2022. I think the talk of Contreras' defensive deficiencies is severely overblown, but there's no question that a good chunk of the offensive upgrade from Heim to Contreras would be offset by a defensive downgrade.

The Rangers have so much need in the rotation and more clear needs in the outfield that a targeted pursuit of Contreras just doesn't really make sense as a top priority, to me. Plus, if you assume they're going to sign one of the top pitchers -- and I do -- they're already potentially looking at punting a draft pick for deGrom/Rodon. Adding Contreras means punting another pick. And, given that there's the real potential of trading for another SP this winter, you've also got the current farm system likely taking a hit to help address the starting staff.

Trading a notable haul of prospects and giving up multiple picks for a second straight offseason would be pretty damaging to the farm.
The Rangers' system is good right now, and I think teams tend to be too stingy with prospects, but in this instance, giving up more picks to sign someone who, while excellent, isn't filling a clear need (and would cost somewhere near $20MM annually as a square-peg-meets-round-hole fit) just seems unlikely.
Mitch Garver for Tyler O'Neil make sense for both sides? Or at least a starting point.
Steve Adams
I don't think so. Garver's a free agent at season's end. O'Neill has two years left. Cardinals probably want a more durable and more defensive-minded catcher than Garver.
Ridiculous to even consider Contreras lol
Steve Adams
Don't think it's ridiculous. If he's not finding the four or five years he wants, and it's February and he's suddenly open to three-year deals or some creative short-term concept... sure. You could argue that he's better suited to fill the Garver role -- lots of DH work and part-time catching -- and trade Garver instead.

I don't think that's likely, and Contreras would probably want to be assured regular catching work wherever he lands, but at some point it just makes sense to add a good player to a team that's trying to improve.
Is Bryan Reynolds a realistic target for the rangers?
Steve Adams
I don't consider Reynolds all that realistic for Texas or anyone else, simply because the Pirates -- although they've listened to offers in the past -- have set enormous asking prices and never given a real indication they're actually considering moving him.
Don't get me wrong, Reynolds would be an amazing fit in Texas if he were actually, legitimately being shopped. It's just a long shot that Pittsburgh will move him this winter.
Would Mitch Haniger make sense for a team like the Rangers looking at a potential buy-low OF?
Steve Adams
Haniger fits in Texas, but I don't expect him to have to sign a "buy-low" type of contract. He's been injured, yes, but a good number of those were fluky and stemming from a freak accident. He's also one of the few plausible 30-homer bats on a pretty thin market for corner outfield help.

He's not going to have to platoon or sign an incentive-laden one-year deal or anything.
Or at the very least, he shouldn't have to.
David Robertson to close for Rangers ?
Steve Adams
In general, I think people focus more on Robertson's 2.40 ERA and 20 saves than on the 13.3% walk rate, which seems like a mistake. Not saying he wouldn't help them, but I didn't have Robertson as one of the five best relievers on the market before Diaz, Suarez and Montero signed, and I probably still don't quite have him there.

The Rangers have the basis for a quietly good 'pen already, but I do agree they'd be wise to bring in at least one veteran, late-inning arm. Kenley Jansen, Chris Martin, Adam Ottavino among the options out there. Robertson would help them, to be clear, just not sure he should be seen as the top available guy or anything.
Tired rangers fan
Who makes more sense? Haniger or Michael Brantley? To me the rangers are in more of a need for an on base minded hitter rather than another power bat
Steve Adams
They're both good hitters, they just get there in different ways. I tend to agree that they could use some OBP help, particularly with Garcia and Heim likely to post pretty anemic marks in that regard while holding down pretty regular spots in the lineup.
Does a long term deal (4+ years) for an OF make sense for the Rangers? They have pretty decent prospects like Carter, Harris, and Zavala coming up plus Garcia and Taveras.
Steve Adams
The only outfielders we predicted to sign for four or more years were Judge (eight), Nimmo (five, but six is possible) and Benintendi (four). I suppose maybe the Rangers could be drawn to Benny's glove, contact and OBP skills, but in general I don't think they're likely to add an outfielder for four-plus years.

They shouldn't necessarily be afraid of blocking some OF prospects if they have a free agent or trade candidate they particularly covet, though. The 2023 season needs to shift to being about winning now, while Seager, Semien and whatever veteran starter(s) they sign are still in the early portions of their contracts.
Lance L
Huff, White, Winn, and Foscue for Woodruff?
Steve Adams
I think if you're trying to legitimately get Burnes or Woodruff out of Milwaukee, the asking price would start with Jung and then include one of the big-name pitching prospects. Sam Huff and Justin Foscue could be in there, but probably not as headliners or anything at this point.
All this talk about Texas signing an outfielder, why not just go out and try to sign Judge plus a top of the market SP? They did spend crazy last off season so why not make it 2 in a row
Steve Adams
It's a fair question, and there's no real reason they can't. I know people are still kind of reeling from seeing the Rangers sign Seager AND Semien last winter, but the reality is that their current 2023 payroll projection is around $140MM, and the luxury bill is only at $156MM. So they're nowhere near the luxury tax, and even Judge wouldn't get them there. Hell, Judge AND deGrom would barely get them to luxury territory.

The main reason it's not talked about much is the simple fact that the Rangers desperately need starting pitching. But... if they wanted to shock baseball by signing Judge, emptying the farm for Corbin Burnes and Pablo Lopez, etc. ... I'm obviously not saying it's likely, but it's also not entirely out of the realm of feasibility or anything.
Is degrom or Rodon AND Senga plausible? Senga wouldn’t be all that expensive, right?
Steve Adams
Sure, it's possible There's no great way to project what Senga is going to command. It's just so much guesswork with players coming over from NPB -- far more so than with more known commodities that are MLB free agents.

We talked with scouts and teams about Seiya Suzuki a year ago, for instance, felt we had a good read on how he was perceived, what types of teams might be in on him... put a fair bit of work into trying to determine just what he might get, and while we had the years right, he still trounced our prediction by $25-30MM, I believe (and that's not including the posting fee the Cubs paid).

So much of the pricing on NPB free agents is dependent on the opinions of the 1-2 teams that like a guy the most. And there's a much larger degree of variance in opinions on NPB/KBO players than on MLB players.
We put a $15MM AAV down on Senga over five years. If he signed for 5/100 or 4/84 or even like 4/56 instead, though, I wouldn't be surprised. Predicting NPB contracts will drive you mad, haha.
Hayden S
Bochy and Belt reunion?
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