There is no doubt that Christmas came early this offseason, but it’d still be nice to have a few presents under the tree. It should be noted, though, that the MLB is in a lockout, which means no free agent signing or trades can happen until the work stoppage ends. So, a few of these gifts may be put on backorder until sometime this spring, but here's what Rangers fans should pencil into this year's Christmas list to Santa.
1. A Starting Pitcher
On Dec. 1, the Rangers signed RHP Jon Gray to a four-year deal, making him the ace of a very young rotation consisting of Dane Dunning (26), Taylor Hearn (27), A.J. Alexy (23) and Spencer Howard (25). While Gray was a huge addition, the Rangers could still use an experienced MLB arm to provide quality starts and innings. Possible candidates for this job are Highland Park native Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, or a slightly younger Carlos Rodon. Though their résumés are not quite as colorful, other names such as Danny Duffy, Garrett Richards, Yusei Kikuchi or Zach Davies could all be reliable options for the Rangers as well.
2. For Adolis Garcia To Stay Good
In 2021, 28-year-old rookie Adolis Garcia broke out in the Rangers’ outfield. In the first half of the season, he slashed .270/.312/.527 with an .840 OPS, blasted 19 home runs, and earned a spot in the All-Star Game. Garcia cooled down in the second half, but his energy and swagger brought needed excitement to fans amid a losing season. If he can improve his on-base percentage, lower his strikeouts and continue to hit for power, paired along with his solid outfield defense, Garcia will be a staple player for the Rangers in 2022.
3. An Outfielder
The addition of Corey Seager and Marcus Semien gave Texas perhaps the best middle infield in baseball, but the outfield needs work. Right now, the Rangers outfield consists of Garcia, Eli White, Leody Tavares, Kole Calhoun and Willie Calhoun (no relation). As we’ve already established, Garcia has a chance to remain a serious big league outfielder, but none of the rest stand out. Kole Calhoun was recently signed in free agency, but he appears to be past his prime, although his lefty power bat is what will most likely get him in the lineup. Outfield help could come in the form of a prospect, like Steele Walker or Bubba Thompson, but neither seem quite MLB ready yet. A reliable free agent signing would be the most crowd pleasing for the Rangers, and there are still a handful of All-Star caliber outfielders on the market, like Nick Castellanos, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Michael Conforto. The Rangers may want to go for a cheaper, shorter deal though, so players like Tommy Pham, Corey Dickerson, Joc Pederson and Kevin Pillar could all enter the equation.
4. Successful Prospects
It’s impossible to buy a championship. Yes, signing free agents is important and can provide the finishing touches or building blocks for a championship team, but you need more. This support comes in the form of prospects. The Rangers have had a rather salty history when it comes to grooming talent. They’ve had success with guys such as Joey Gallo and Elvis Andrus (via trade), but have also missed on others who were supposed to be stars, like Nomar Mazara, Rougned Odor and Jurickson Profar. Fortunately, the Rangers now have a very solid pool of young talent with their top five prospects all being ranked on the MLB Top 100 list. For the Rangers to succeed in the future, they need these prospects, along with others, to turn into good, reliable big league players.
5. For Carlos Correa To Leave the AL West
Watching Houston succeed the past six years has been painful for Rangers fans. And a big part of the Astros’ success has been star shortstop Carlos Correa, who in his career against the Rangers has hit .274/.356/.516 with 19 home runs and a whopping 94 hits and 62 RBIs in 91 games played. Needless to say, the Rangers are sick of him, and not having to see him 18 to 19 times a year would definitely be a nice little stocking stuffer for local fans.
6. For All This Money To Be Worth It
Javy Baez to the Tigers, so what’s the Carlos Correa market looking like? Corey Seager deal likely pushed Correa’s money to $350M+. Tigers and Rangers are out. We’re to believe the Yankees and Astros won’t pay. Why do I feel like the Dodgers will come out of nowhere on this one?— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) November 30, 2021
Having spent about $561 million in free agency this year, the Rangers are all in to get back in the win column, and fans could not be more excited. But as fans settle into Globe Life Park next summer, none of that money will matter if the product on the field doesn’t show progress. Not saying the Rangers need to be competing for a World Series next year, or even the playoffs, but being a competitive team in 2022 that shows there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel is a must. Going on 9- and 12-game losing streaks like they did in 2021 will be deemed unacceptable in 2022 with all the money that's being spent on the Rangers. A step forward next season, hopefully competing for the playoffs in 2023, and having eyes set on the Fall Classic by 2024 will mean money well spent.
Holy crap @Rangers! $561 million in 24 hours and I doubt they're done.— Bo Reed (@LTRReed) November 29, 2021
7. A Spring-time Opening Day
At 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 1, the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), settled upon in 1995, expired. Two minutes later, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred stated that the league was entering a lockout, or work stoppage. Until a new CBA is agreed upon, there will be no free agent signings, trades or any other sort of MLB operations. This also means no regularly scheduled Opening Day. Not being able to go watch their new stars compete will hurt Rangers fans.
All I want for Christmas is the MLB lockout to be over— Stephanie Lynn (@x0stephhh) December 13, 2021