Sports

Four Moves the Texas Rangers Could (and Should) Make This Offseason

Carlos Rodón is one of the top free-agent pitchers available this offseason.
Carlos Rodón is one of the top free-agent pitchers available this offseason. Thearon W. Henderson, Getty
It would be accurate to say that being a fan of the Texas Rangers baseball club is like being Charlie Brown, hoping that maybe, just maybe, Lucy won't pull the football away this time.

But there's a better way to sum up the existence we Rangers fans have endured for much of our team's history, an existence that has been largely spent in the fetid basement of competitive baseball.

We are indeed Charlie Brown, and our rogues’ gallery of general managers faithfully inhabits the role of Lucy. But it seems there is no football to kick: It was false hope, a mirage created by the shimmering Texas heat and the witchcraft of David Freese. Instead, we're lying on our backs in some ritzy ballpark in Arlington hoping there will one day be a real ball.

At least then we'd have something to miss.

Nevertheless, hope springs eternal in winter, the time of year when baseball fans around the country hope their team makes a big splash via free agency or the trade market. Sometimes those splashes turn into belly flops upon second glance, but other times, the splashes help the team at least gravitate toward the right direction (see: the Rangers signing of Corey Seager and Marcus Semien last year).

The Rangers brass, in all their Lucy-esque deviousness, have lined up the proverbial ball and given us all hope by indicating they will again be big spenders this offseason. General manager Chris Young even hopes to contend as early as next year.

With that in mind, and with the annual winter meetings beginning on Sunday in San Diego, here are four moves the Rangers could, and should, make this offseason.

Fill the Hole in Left Field

Thus far, much of the offseason buzz surrounding the Rangers has involved pitcher Jacob deGrom (more on that in a little bit). But for my money, it makes more sense to start in left field, a position that hasn’t seen consistent, high-quality play in years. Ex-Red Sox and Yankees outfielder Andrew Benintendi is this offseason’s premier free agent at that position, which means he is likely to command the kind of dough the Rangers would rather spend on pitching. But why not split the difference and spend a little on both?

Benintendi is 28, which means he could be contributing at a high level for the next five years. That’s not something you can say for fellow outfield free agents Michael Brantley and Andrew McCutchen, nor should Benintendi command the kind of salary sought by Seager and Semien last year. With this All-Star in left field, the Rangers would finally fill a hole that’s plagued them year after year while preventing the rival Houston Astros from landing yet another significant offensive piece.

It would be accurate to say that being a fan of the Texas Rangers baseball club is like being Charlie Brown, hoping that maybe, just maybe, Lucy won't pull the football away this time.

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Sign Carlos Rodón

Rodón is an outstanding pitcher coming off two stellar years in a row and, perhaps, best of all he is 28. Seeing a pattern here? While deGrom and Verlander are the bigger names, Rodón, like Benintendi, has a less-taxed arm and a friend in Father Time. Plus, Rodón made more starts in the 2022 season than deGrom did in ‘21 and ‘22 combined. And if the pundits are to be believed, deGrom is likely to command $40 million per year over the next four or five years, at which time he’ll be in his late 30s. If this team was in the running for a World Series next year, I’d say go nuts. As things stand, I’ll take the guy in his 20s.

Sign Brandon Drury

Now that we theoretically have a couple young(ish) guys locked up for the near future, let’s look elsewhere on the roster. It might not be pretty, but it’s a start. With a guy like Corey Seager and pieces like Benintendi, Semien and first baseman Nathaniel Lowe, you’re well on your way to a decent lineup.

Enter Brandon Drury, a former Red and Padre who turned in a superb season in 2022, just in time for a nifty new contract. He may not get the money fellow former Padre and Texas native Josh Bell will get this offseason, but Drury is 30 and versatile. He can hold down multiple positions while producing with the bat, and that’s exactly the kind of guy you hand some solid money to for the next few years while trying out the youngsters. I’m looking at you, Josh Jung and Justin Foscue.

Enter the Trade Market

At this point, it may be tempting to snag some of the intriguing bullpen arms up for grabs this offseason. And, hey, I like Matt Strahm as much as the next guy. But as bad as the ‘pen may be, the starting rotation is in even worse shape. So instead of spending more dough on the open market, let’s have fun with some trades.

Marlins starting pitcher Pablo López is rumored to be up for grabs for the right price. The Rangers have young guys like Ezequiel Durán and Josh Smith who might be attractive to a team like the Marlins or Pirates. This makes a hitters-for-pitchers swap easy to imagine. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but what’s a hopeful offseason preview without a heavy dose of wishful thinking?

Even we Ranger fans can be optimistic — at least until June.
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Tyler Hicks was born in Austin, but he grew up in Dallas. He typically claims one or the other, depending on which is most convenient. His work has appeared in Texas Monthly, Truthout, The Texas Observer and many other publications.
Contact: Tyler Hicks

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