The latest from Arlington…
- In his end-of-season meeting with the media, Rangers GM Jon Daniels told MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan and other reporters that “starting pitching is still a priority” for the offseason in the wake of the team’s lackluster rotation performance in 2018. That said, Daniels also expressed an openness to explore pitching upgrades in all forms, such as how other teams have more heavily utilized a deep bullpen. Texas seems to have a virtual blank slate to work from with its pitching, in terms of internal promotions or offseason acquisitions, as Sullivan figures that Mike Minor and Jose Leclerc are the only current arms who are locks for the 2019 roster.
- Despite coming off a 95-loss season, Daniels hinted at something of a rebuild on the fly, as he thinks it possible that the Rangers could contend next year if things break right. “Our belief is we can take steps forward next year. I don’t believe in the thought of tanking. That’s not in our mindset,” Daniels said. A big signing splash doesn’t appear to be in the cards, as Daniels also doesn’t “think this is the winter we are going all in on the top free agents necessarily.”
- Daniels also mentioned the possibility of trading a left-handed hitting outfielder to acquire pitching, noting that “They potentially fit us very well; they potentially fit other teams really well. As we look to address our pitching situation, we’re gonna have to talk about our areas of depth, and that’s one of them.” Of the four lefty bats in the outfield, Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News opines that Nomar Mazara could be the best fit as a trade chip — Willie Calhoun is too good a prospect, Shin-Soo Choo’s contract is too large, and Joey Gallo has delivered more results in his brief career. While Mazara has only been okay over his first three MLB seasons, he doesn’t turn 24 until April, and is still controllable for three more seasons via arbitration. It would be a risk to trade (and possibly be selling low on) a former top prospect like Mazara, though Sherrington feels such “a bold move” is necessary to help a rotation that is so thin on Major League-ready arms.
- Robinson Chirinos is likely to have his club option exercised by the Rangers, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News predicts, and the original $2.375MM cost of that 2019 option is now closer to $4MM based on plate appearance-related escalators in the catcher’s contract. It’s a reasonable price to retain Chirinos, even if his numbers took a step back after a strong 2017 season, and his pitch-framing statistics took a nosedive (as per StatCorner and Baseball Prospectus). Grant doesn’t figure Texas will exercise their other club options, on Martin Perez, Matt Moore, and Doug Fister. A case could be made for retaining Perez ($7.5MM) or Fister ($4.5MM) just because the Rangers are so short on pitching, though neither showed much in 2018 — Perez lost his rotation spot, while Fister spent much of the year on the DL with a knee injury. Of course, the Rangers could decline either option and then look to re-sign either pitcher to a less-expensive contract.