We’re bringing back our “Three Needs” series, in which we take a look at the chief issues to be addressed for clubs that have fallen out of contention. We’ve already focused on the Mariners, Tigers, White Sox and Marlins. Now we’re on to the Rangers, who surprisingly hung in playoff contention for the season’s first few months. Reality has set in as the year has progressed, though, leaving Texas on track for its third consecutive sub-.500 season. With a new ballpark opening in 2020, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels could oversee an aggressive winter in an effort to get the club back to being a legitimate playoff contender. We already argued that upgrading at catcher should be on Daniels’ offseason to-do list, so we’ll leave that position out of this piece and focus on other areas Daniels could address in the next several months…
1. Consider Major Changes In The Infield
Arguably no team in the league has been worse off in the infield than the Rangers, whose first, second, third basemen and shortstops have combined for a paltry 2.5 fWAR. Utilityman Danny Santana and second/third baseman Nick Solak, an August call-up, are the only members of the group who have posted above-average offensive numbers. Although Santana’s numbers have dramatically plummeted over the season’s final couple months, he could again play an important multi-positional role for the Rangers in 2020. And Solak, whom the Rangers acquired back in June, is probably someone they will count on for plenty of at-bats next season. Things aren’t as promising otherwise, though, as Ronald Guzman has been one of the game’s worst offensive first basemen for the second straight year, and the well-compensated double-play tandem of second baseman Rougned Odor and shortstop Elvis Andrus has fallen flat.
Texas brass has made its disappointment with the production of Guzman (whom the club optioned earlier in the summer), Odor and Andrus known this year, which could suggest the team will try to upgrade at those spots. The contracts of Odor and Andrus are problematic, however, with the former still owed $36MM through 2022 and the latter under wraps for the same period of time for $43MM.
At the very least, Andrus figures to return as the Rangers’ main shortstop next year, though it doesn’t appear the team’s inclined to hand him a starting spot. How the Rangers handle the rest of their infield could depend in part on where they expect Santana and Solak to primarily line up. Either may spend a lot of time at third, but the Rangers could reportedly prioritize the position in the offseason, meaning it’s possible they’ll attempt to reel in a big fish via free agency. The top free agent-to-be at the position, Nationals MVP candidate Anthony Rendon, happens to be from Texas. That could give the Rangers a bit of an edge in courting him. He’ll likely command a contract worth $150MM or more, though. If that’s too rich for the Rangers’ blood, fellow pending free agents Josh Donaldson and Mike Moustakas would provide upgrades for the club at more palatable prices. The free-agent lists at first and second base are decidedly less exciting, but the Rangers shouldn’t have to spend a ton of money at either position to get better production in 2020 than the weak output they’ve received from those places this season.
2. Find Some Complements To Lance Lynn And Extension Candidate Mike Minor
The Rangers’ starting staff ranks a solid 10th in the majors in fWAR (11.7), but almost that entire total (10.4) has come from two pitchers: Lynn and Minor. Daniels struck gold in free agency on that pair, adding Lynn on a three-year, $30MM guarantee last offseason and Minor for three years and $28MM going into 2018. The Rangers’ rotation will need at least one more pickup along those lines during the upcoming winter, as the unit doesn’t offer much beyond Lynn, Minor and the 22-year-old Kolby Allard – an in-season acquisition who has performed adequately over eight starts.
Baseball’s best pending free agent, Astros righty and potential AL Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole, may well land on the Rangers’ radar. But the Rangers will be among a slew of other teams in on Cole if they enter that race, which could culminate in a $200MM-plus contract for him. Daniels showed with the Lynn and Minor signings that he doesn’t necessarily have to back up the Brink’s trick to find front-line starter production in free agency, and with those two around, maybe the Rangers will focus more on mid- to back-end rotation pieces than a ridiculously expensive ace like Cole. Either way, they could work to extend Minor, who’s under contract for just one more year. Trading Minor looked like a possibility as recently as July, but the Rangers opted against it. Perhaps they’ll revisit that possibility in the offseason, though they’ll certainly be hard-pressed to push for a playoff spot next season if they deal Minor prior to then.
3. Explore A Joey Gallo Extension
Injuries have been a problem over the past few months for Gallo, who fractured his right hamate bone July 23 and hasn’t played since. However, when he has taken the field this season, Gallo has performed like a franchise-caliber position player. While the 25-year-old’s penchant for striking out has continued in 2019, he has nonetheless slashed .253/.389/.598 (144 wRC+) with 22 home runs and 3.3 fWAR in 297 trips to the plate. Defensively, Gallo has graded as a plus player in both left and center field.
Gallo’s high-end production this season has come at a minimal salary, but those days are about to end for the soon-to-be arbitration-eligible slugger. Texas can still control him for three more years even if it doesn’t extend him, but the club should arguably try to lock him up now off an injury-plagued season. Granted, considering Gallo’s a Scott Boras client, doing so wouldn’t be easy. Back in May, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News posited it could take a seven-year, $150MM offer to extend Gallo, though that was before injuries knocked his season off track. In any case, if the Rangers are convinced Gallo’s a true organizational centerpiece, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them attempt to sign him for the long haul.
Fire Jon Daniels
A new voice at GM is what’s really needed.
and the award for “Biggest Turd Idiot” goes to you! Congratulations!
bruh they do need a new gm though Daniels has screwed over the rangers there is no crawling out of this pit he’s had way to many rental vets who didn’t pan out and has killed the farm system especially pitching
They’ve rebuilt the farm.
Hes been the most successful GM in franchise history haha! Granted some of the vet signings haven’t worked but some of them have worked really well (Choo for example). He did trade away a lot of talent, but honestly are any of those guys even in the majors anywhere? The big ones people were mad about were guys like Tate or Brinson, it really hasen’t hurt badly. Clearly the Odor signing is a bad one, but all in all JD has been good. Doesn’t mean he gets the longest leash in baseball but he has done enough to earn the right to rebuild the franchise, and I like where the Rangers are at currently.
I can’t necessarily say Choo has been a “win”. He was the guy who was supposed to replace Kinsler in the 1-2 hole, but the consistency (injuries play a big role) has not quite been there.
No hate on Choo, but I’ll be happy when that contract is off the books after next season. Rangers should be able to view that savings after 2020 to make a splash and not kill payroll. The new stadium and surrounding entertainment district should be a boon to the club for a few years.
The main ones…..
Trade Gallo while his value is high. Same with Minor. Complete rebuild is what is needed, new stadium complicates things though.
Nope, this team can mash. Copy the Twins blueprint and make the playoffs next year, wild card in 2020 and take the division in 2021 when Houston’s window closes.
Sign Rendon, Billy Hamilton, Cole, Hamels, and Lester. Hamels and Lester come in on cheapish veteran contracts. Hamilton will be to the Rangers what Dyson was to the Royals. Cole comes on an insane contract that can still be moved in a few years, a la Greinke. Rendon is the new long term face of the franchise, aging like Beltre and giving fans a jersey to buy and stats to count seven years from now when Rendon is wrapping up a HOF career.
What a silly statement, this team is not that far off. Almost .500 and some of their guys took big steps this year (Gallo obviously, but also Calhoun and Trevino). Just need pitching behind Minor and Lynn and they will be fine.
I don’t think Cole Hamels will play for Jon Daniels again.
Joey Gallo should be moved to 1B permanently.
They should acquire a 3B and two more SPs. .
Gallo did well in CF…..
Joey, with an arm that throws 95+… Playing 1B? Really?
I’d like to see Gallo in RF, to prolong his tenure, He’s a natural there. Having noted that, the Rangers have MANY questions to fill…. decent winter actions and haul from our GM.
Due diligence please.
JD, time to stand UP.
Gallo is lije the Rangerz bezt outfielder… Im going to go with “No” on the move to 1B.
Extend Gallo off a career year? Great idea. Worked out with Rougned Odor…
Exactly. Gallo is going to break down like Chris Davis…..
Nah, Davis isn’t the same athelete as Gallo. It’s why they let Crash move on back in the day. I’ve met both guys (I was a ball boy when Davis was in the minors) Gallo is just obviously a better build and more athletic, Davis was kind of a big goof, and never smooth or athletic even in his 3B days.
Look at the OPS… Gallo was an elite hitter before the injury and the arrow is pointing upwards on him. Getting a talent like that for $22 mil AAV is a no-brainer for me.
What an awful organization!!!!!
get rid of stinky..
Gallo’s huge whiff’s are a drag in between prodigious home runs. Seems Odor and Gallo are coiled at bat to mash a HR. A single or a double would do nicely instead. I would trade Gallo for several good prospects.
Did you watch Gallo this year? He really is a consistently scary hitter. If Gallo had stayed healthy this year we would be talking about a guy in the 50 homer range, you don’t trade those guys from a .500 ballclub, thats just silly.
All season yes! Gallo had showed more patience at the plate than I have ever seen, and that I give kudos. On the down size, his swings are very vicious which probably contributed to his broken hamut bone. I would rather Gallo take his batting stance similar to someone his size – Kris Bryant of the Cubs. Both were teammates back in Las Vegas as preps, and you would think Gallo would have learned something from Bryant’s approach at bat. When Bryant was eligible for the draft a few years back he was rated far ahead of Gallo to become the first pick of that draft. Scouts saw Bryant as a polished power hitter whereas Gallo was very raw with power but undisciplined. Gallo is an athletic “Apollo” without a doubt, but he needs to dial back that swing of his.
I agree I would much rather watch a guy like Isiah Kiner-Falefa go to the plate and make contact than Gallo strikeout with runners in scoring position. Everyone likes to watch the moon shots and overlooks the strikeouts but, most of the time, he doesn’t win ballgames.
Strike zone and pitch recognition took big leaps this season. This kid is now starting to scratch the surface.