Rangers’ brass has suggested on multiple occasions the club anticipates being active in free agency this winter, and it indeed seems ownership is prepared to support an offseason spending spree. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Rangers could add $100MM+ to their payroll this offseason.
That kind of offseason would certainly be atypical for a club coming off back-to-back last place finishes in the AL West. Texas clearly has designs at pushing forward their contention window, though. The current roster probably has too many holes for the Rangers to compete for a playoff spot next season. But adding one or more marquee players on multi-year deals could make a 2023 window more realistic, and this offseason’s free agent class has plenty of potential prime-aged targets. That indeed seems to be the front office’s thought process in projecting an active offseason.
“I don’t think we expect to just come out and be World Series contenders next season,” general manager Chris Young told reporters (including Kennedi Landry of MLB.com). “That said, we expect to take major steps from where we were this year and continue to build this so that by 2023, we’re in a very good position and competing for the division and have the opportunity to make the playoffs and potentially win a World Series.”
As the Rangers have stripped down the roster in recent seasons, the team’s spending has taken a corresponding nosedive. Texas has opened seasons with a payroll north of $165MM in the past, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts, but Jason Martinez of Roster Resource currently projects their 2022 financial commitments around just $51MM (including arbitration projections). Last month, president of baseball operations Jon Daniels indicated the club would increase spending over the coming offseasons. Daniels was deliberately vague about precisely how much money the team might allocate in each winter, but it seems there’s a chance Texas makes multiple significant additions and pushes back near franchise-record levels of spending this winter alone.
The Rangers have very few players locked in anywhere on the roster, giving Daniels, Young and the rest of the front office ample avenues to explore. This year’s free agent class features a handful of franchise shortstops — including Dallas-area native Trevor Story — as well as a strong group of corner outfielders. One of the youngest players on the market is 27-year-old Japanese star Seiya Suzuki. Suzuki’s NPB team, the Hiroshima Carp, are expected to make him available via the posting process.
Executives with other clubs see the Rangers as one of the prime suitors to land Suzuki, hears Jon Morosi of MLB.com. Between the star outfielder’s youth and Texas’ payroll space, it’s a fairly easy connection to draw. Suzuki is coming off a massive .319/.436/.644 showing over 530 plate appearances, and some evaluators believe he can immediately step into MLB as an above-average everyday right fielder. If the Rangers’ scouting department shares that level of optimism, then a pursuit of Suzuki makes plenty of sense. MLBTR projects the right-handed hitter to land a five-year, $55MM contract that would come with an additional $10.125MM posting fee to be paid to the Carp.
Story and Suzuki are just two of numerous options for the Rangers, who seem likely to be connected to impact players all offseason. With Texas having perhaps as much payroll flexibility and desire to add talent as anyone, it could be a winter of big-ticket pursuits in Arlington.