The Rangers enter the winter attempting to load up on starting pitching, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes. It’s possible the club will seek to acquire three starters in some form or fashion, though GM Jon Daniels says “the number is yet to be determined.”
Just how that need will be met is awfully tough to guess at this point. We covered the club’s obvious need for multiple arms in previewing the team’s offseason situation. But as we said there, there’s such a bounty of possibility that it’s nearly impossible to pick favorites.
Daniels said as much when he chatted with the press from the GM Meetings. Beyond the “couple guys that stand out at the top” of the market, he said of this year’s free agent starters, “you can probably rank them a bunch of different ways.” The Rangers, he says, are “open to a lot of different things.”
While we don’t know whether the Rangers will gun for the elite arms, and can’t be sure who they most fancy further down the board, Wilson says the organization is aiming to land at least one “proven arm” to pair with top starters Mike Minor and Lance Lynn. In MLBTR’s top fifty free agent list, we guessed the club would come away with Hyun-jin Ryu, but we also considered the organization a plausible fit for a dozen other starters.
So, does all this talk of starting pitching mean the Rangers aren’t quite as engaged in the third base market as we predicted in the above-linked analyses? Not so much. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News explains that the club is pursuing a multi-track strategy to install a star at the hot corner.
We heard recently that the Texas organization is making a concerted push for Josh Donaldson, an older but still-excellent firebrand. But Grant says the club prefers the more youthful Texas native Anthony Rendon, who is Donaldson’s polar opposite in temperament and superior in present ability. Mike Moustakas, it seems, features as a possible backup plan.
It seems the Rangers intend to push hard on both of those premium third baggers, bidding at least until the auction price gets too steep. Presumably, this situation will tie into the pitching side, to some extent. Should the Rangers land a star, they’ll have greater cause to ensure their rotation is up to snuff. On the other hand, missing on Rendon and Donaldson would seem to leave more dry powder to work with.
Grant drops one other nugget that’s worth highlighting with regard to Donaldson. We predicted the veteran would secure a three-year guarantee at $25MM annually (and that he’d ink that deal with the Rangers). But there’s now enough market pressure, per Grant, that “there is a growing thought that to get something done quickly with him would require a fourth year or an option with a significant buyout tacked on to third year.” That’s a big ask for someone on the cusp of his 34th birthday, though Donaldson is an elite performer and we have seen four-year pacts for even older players (e.g., Ben Zobrist).