Texas Rangers – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-11-17T05:00:14Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Coaching Notes: Rangers, Twins, Rockies, Jays, Phillies]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=137569 2018-11-17T05:00:14Z 2018-11-17T05:00:14Z Many teams are putting the finishing touches on their coaching staffs, though there are still some openings. Here are the latest moves:

  • The Rangers announced that they have hired Julio Rangel as their new pitching coach. He’ll come over from the Giants organization, where he had served as the minor-league pitching coordinator. The 43-year-old Rangel also spent 11 years in the Indians system but has never previously worked at the MLB level as a player or coach.
  • Rounding out their staff under new skipper Rocco Baldelli, the Twins announced the additions of third-base coach Tony Diaz and first-base coach Tommy Watkins. The 31-year-old Diaz comes over from the Rockies, while Watkins is moving up from a minor-league managerial role in the Minnesota system. Yesterday, the club finalized deals with its coaches dedicated to pitching.
  • Also departing the Rockies will be hitting coach Duane Espy, the club announced. It’s not clear what the team’s plans are in this area. For the time being, at least, assistant hitting coach Jeff Salazar is evidently remaining in his role.
  • The Blue Jays will hire Guillermo Martinez to become their new hitting coach, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports. Martinez is just 34 years of age, but obviously made quite an impression in his first year as minor-league hitting coordinator in Toronto. He played professionally but never reached the majors. Previously, Martinez coached in the minors with the Jays and Cubs.
  • To complete their staff, the Phillies announced, they’ll install Dave Lundquist as assistant pitching coach. He was most recently the organization’s Triple-A pitching coach, so this was a natural profession. The former big leaguer has worked his way up the chain in the Philadelphia organization since landing there in 2008.
Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Rangers To Sign Jeff Mathis]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=137491 2018-11-16T03:09:49Z 2018-11-16T01:50:24Z The Rangers have agreed to a contract (pending physical) with free agent catcher Jeff Mathis, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). It’s said to be a two-year deal for the veteran receiver, with financial details not yet known.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way up front: Mathis is already 35 years of age and he’s an exceedingly unproductive hitter. Of course, even when he was 25 the deficiencies with the bat were well known. Over his 14-year MLB career, Mathis has rarely wavered too far from the anemic .198/.258/.306 mean batting line he has produced through 2,694 trips to the plate.

For virtually any other player, that sort of accumulation of statistics would not even be possible, simply because the opportunity would dry up. Mathis, though, is a rare bird. Not only is he still at the top of the class in many of the measurable tools of the trade, but he’s also regarded as a game-management savant.

Mathis just wrapped up a two-year pact with the Diamondbacks that promised him $2MM annually. For their money, the Snakes got 129 total games and just under 1,000 total innings behind the plate (plus three at second base and one on the hill).

During his time in Arizona, Mathis carried a 48 OPS+ that sits just shy of his lifetime 52 OPS+ mark. He also turned in a masterful 2018 pitch-framing effort, scored better than anyone but Tucker Barnhart at smothering balls in the dirt, and graded as average in controlling the running game. With his famed pitcher-whispering abilities mixed in, it’s eminently arguable that Mathis is the game’s best defender behind the dish — which, in fact, was the assessment of Sports Info Solutions (Twitter link).

For the Rangers, this move comes after the club rather surprisingly chose to bid adieu to Robinson Chirinos. The club chose to pay him a $1MM buyout rather than picking up his option for $4.5MM, an outwardly reasonable sum for the 34-year-old. Chirinos has steadily produced league-average-or-better offensive numbers over recent years but is not valued nearly so much for his efforts behind the dish. In particular, Chirinos received quite poor grades for his throwing and framing in 2018.

While Chirinos is reputedly a valued clubhouse leader, he evidently did not impress the team quite as much in squeezing value from the pitching staff. That’ll be the chief duty of Mathis, who’ll presumably see a fair bit of action and take a leading role in guiding a still-largely-undetermined group of hurlers. He could be paired with (and teach the dark arts to) Jose Trevino, utilityman Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and/or minor-league signee Jett Bandy, though the Rangers could still add options to the mix.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Rangers Announce Five Members Of Coaching Staff]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=137399 2018-11-15T02:20:23Z 2018-11-15T02:20:23Z The Rangers announced five members of their 2019 coaching staff Wednesday, including the hiring of Dodgers assistant hitting coach Luis Ortiz as their new hitting coach. In addition, Texas announced that bench coach Don Wakamatsu and third base coach Tony Beasley are returning to the staff in those roles next season. Bullpen coach Hector Ortiz will move to the role of first base coach, while 2018 first base coach Steve Buechele has been named a special assistant in the baseball operations department. Jayce Tingler, meanwhile, will return for a second stint with the coaching staff as the player development field coordinator.

Luis Ortiz, 48, served on the Dodgers’ coaching staff under newly hired manager Chris Woodward this past season. The new role with the Rangers represents a homecoming of sorts. While he’s not a native of Texas — Ortiz was born in the Dominican Republic — he began his coaching career in the Rangers system and spent the 2008-12 seasons as a hitting instructor/coordinator for the organization. Since that time, he’s been a field coordinator and hitting coordinator with the Padres and spent another two seasons as an assistant field coordinator in the Indians organization.

Tingler previously served as an outfield/baserunning coach in 2015-16 before spending the 2017-18 seasons as an assistant GM in the front office. He was a popular managerial candidate this offseason and connected to multiple vacancies, though he clearly remained with the Rangers organization. He has eight years of minor league managerial experience under his belt — all in the Rangers system.

The remaining decisions for the Rangers all center on the pitching side of the equation. With Hector Ortiz moving to first base coach, they’ll need to add a new bullpen coach. Texas also formally announced what was reported earlier this week by MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan — that pitching coach Doug Brocail will not have his contract renewed. Beyond that, the Rangers also announced that assistant pitching coach Dan Warthen will not be asked back for the 2019 season, either. Those decisions “will be announced in the near future,” per tonight’s release.

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Rangers Part Ways With Pitching Coach Doug Brocail]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=137226 2018-11-13T05:31:22Z 2018-11-13T04:46:04Z The Rangers have decided not to bring back pitching coach Doug Brocail, per TR Sullivan of MLB.com (via Twitter). The Texas organization has been evaluating its staff to serve with new manager Chris Woodward.

Brocail had been in his post for three seasons. The long-time MLB hurler took over for Mike Maddux after the 2015 campaign. Before that, he had worked in the Astros organization as a pitching coach at the MLB level and on the farm.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Rangers Seeking Primary Catcher]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=137061 2018-11-11T00:40:10Z 2018-11-11T00:40:10Z
  • The Rangers elected to decline catcher Robinson Chirinos’ option for 2019 because of both the salary they’d have owed him ($4.5MM) and his defensive woes, according to Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram. Chirinos was one of the majors’ worst defensive catchers in 2018, but it was still a surprise that Texas let him become a free agent. After all, the 34-year-old did offer solid offensive production for the fifth straight season, hitting .222/.338/.419 (103 wRC+) with 18 home runs in 426 plate appearances, and exercising his option hardly would’ve broken the bank. Further, the Rangers don’t seem to have a full-time replacement on hand, as they’re not of the belief either Jose Trevino or Isiah Kiner-Falefa is ready for No. 1 duties, per Wilson. Texas is in the market for a primary backstop as a result, and though there are several established veterans on the open market, Wilson suggests Chirinos’ successor could arrive via trade.
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    Ty Bradley <![CDATA[AL West Notes: Correa, A’s, Beltre]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=137055 2018-11-10T21:20:03Z 2018-11-10T20:59:11Z Astros shortstop Carlos Correa announced today at a team benefit that he underwent surgery to repair a deviated septum last Monday.  The nasal affliction, said the 24-year-old, was inhibiting his ability to breathe normally, especially when running the bases.  Arguably the centerpiece of the team’s 2017 championship run, the former #1 overall pick slumped to a career-worst .239/.323/.405 games last season.  He especially struggled in the season’s second half, posting a putrid 45 wRC+ and 24% hard contact rate over 133 PA following a return from the DL after a bout of lower back soreness.  During multiple gatherings with the reporters on a crusty Minute Maid Park surface, the former Rookie of the Year made no effort to draw a nexus between the respiratory issues and his poor performance, but did note that he doesn’t expect to have surgery to address the lower-back ailment, with the Houston Chronicle’s Brian T. Smith tweeting that the shortstop is “doing well” right now.

    In other news from around the division . . .

    • On the heels of a wildly successful 2018 season, the A’s have announced changes to the team’s player development program, reports The Athletic’s Melissa Lockard. The club, apparently, is piggybacking on recent trends in the rookie-level Arizona League, where select teams – namely, the Padres, Indians, Cubs, and Giants – have added a second ’affiliate’ to compete in the league.  In this case, it seems the move is an effort to acclimate newly-signed international players to the American way of life (and professional baseball in the country) at a far more rapid rate than in the past.  Eddie Menchaca, who managed the lone AZL affiliate for the club last year, will reprise his role as manager for one of the teams, in addition to fulfilling his newly-appointed duties as Latin American player development supervisor.  The club’s farm, responsible in no small part for the team’s periodic, oft-unforeseen success over the last two decades, is ranked middle-of-the-pack in Baseball America’s latest update.
    • Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News cites a source “close” to Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre in declaring that a decision on the 39-year-old’s future could come “within a week or so.”  Beltre, of course, is deeply contemplating retirement, with a recent report by FanCred’s Jon Heyman noting that “the belief” is that the 21-year-veteran is leaning in that direction. If he is to return, Beltre seems to have given conflicting directives in the way of his future, with Grant noting that the Ranger dignitary “would like” to return to Texas but is most interested in playing for a contending team, of which category the 2019 Rangers are decidedly unlikely to fall into.  The article, which details possible positional alignments for the 2019 club, in addition to revelatory quotes from GM Jon Daniels, is well worth a full read for Ranger fans of all sorts.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Hamels Trade Prompts Rangers' Reassessment Of Analytics Department]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=136952 2018-11-09T18:22:31Z 2018-11-09T03:06:09Z
  • Cole Hamels’ success after being acquired by the Cubs has helped push the Rangers to re-evaluate their analytical practices, writes Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. General manager Jon Daniels acknowledged that he talked to Hamels himself about the post-trade improvements and explained to Wilson that the organization will make some additions to get back up to speed in terms of data utilization. “There’s probably five or eight clubs that are ahead of the rest of the industry in certain areas,” said Daniels. “We’ve been in that group before, and we are in certain areas, but on the R&D side we’re not. That’s an area we’re going to look to improve.” As Wilson points out, it’s perhaps no surprise that the Rangers’ two biggest hires of the offseason — manager Chris Woodward and assistant general manager Shiraz Rehman — came from industry leaders in that regard. Woodward was the Dodgers’ third base coach, while Rehman was plucked from the Cubs’ front office.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Rangers Agree To Minor League Deal With Jett Bandy]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=136892 2018-11-08T13:58:10Z 2018-11-08T13:58:10Z The Rangers have agreed to a minor league pact with catcher Jett Bandy, reports Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News. He’ll add a bit of catching depth to the Texas system after the Rangers’ surprising decision to move on from catcher Robinson Chirinos.

    Bandy, 28, has spent the past two seasons in the Brewers organization after Milwaukee acquired him in the trade that sent Martin Maldonado to the Angels. Bandy, a former 31st-round pick, was with the Halos for the entirety of his career prior to that swap.

    Bandy showed some decent pop in his limited big league time with the Angels, swatting nine homers and nine doubles through his first 233 big league plate appearances in 2015-16. That came on the heels of a solid .291/.347/.466 showing through 344 Triple-A appearances in 2015 (albeit in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League), so it’s understandable how the Brewers would’ve been optimistic that he could hit enough to hold down a roster spot. That, however, simply didn’t happen with the Brewers. Bandy’s two seasons in Milwaukee were disappointing, as he struggled to a .202/.282/.326 batting line through 259 trips to the plate.

    To his credit, Bandy has thrown out 31 of 98 runners who’ve attempted to steal on him in the Majors (32 percent), though Baseball Prospectus also gave him slightly below-average marks in terms of pitch blocking and framing during his time with the Brewers.

    With Chirinos no longer in the fold, the Rangers are severely lacking in catching options, so it’s natural to see them add some depth. Jose Trevino, who has all of eight MLB plate appearances and hit .234/.284/.332 with Double-A Frisco last season, sits atop the catching depth chart alongside Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who spent more time as an infielder than a catcher in the bigs last season. Texas will likely add further catching depth throughout the winter.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Don Wakamatsu Will Return In 2019]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=136809 2018-11-07T22:47:23Z 2018-11-07T22:46:49Z
  • Don Wakamatsu, who spent the 2018 season as the Rangers’ bench coach before assuming the role of interim manager late in the season, will return to the organization in 2019, tweets T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Wakamatsu interviewed for the managerial opening that eventually went to Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward, but he’ll return to the 2019 staff despite being passed over for the job in the end.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Rangers Notes: Mazara, Profar, Pitching]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=136552 2018-11-04T18:54:40Z 2018-11-04T18:54:40Z
  • Are Nomar Mazara and Jurickson Profar extension candidates or trade candidates for the RangersEvan Grant of the Dallas Morning News feels the team should hold off on a Mazara deal at least for now, as Texas would be selling low on a former top prospect who has yet to really display that ability at the big league level (.258/.320/.425 with 60 homers over 1720 career PA, with just 1.5 fWAR over three seasons), plus Mazara is only entering his age-24 season and could still break out as a Rangers cornerstone.  Profar was once seen as the best prospect in baseball, yet injuries have stalled his career, making it unlikely that the Rangers would invest in an extension for a player they still don’t know if they can count on as a long-term piece.  By that same token, Profar probably doesn’t have a ton of trade value if Texas shops him around to rival teams.
  • From that same piece, Grant argues that the Rangers should try to acquire a quality starting pitcher this winter as “seed money” towards a future contender.  Grant feels Texas probably won’t be ready to contend until 2021, though since the Rangers have a huge need for pitching right now, the club could acquire a notable starter as something of a “relevancy tax” to help keep fan interest up, and then conceivably trade this pitcher for future assets later.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Potential Free-Agent Pitcher Targets For Rangers]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=136518 2018-11-04T03:18:27Z 2018-11-04T03:18:27Z
  • The Rangers addressed their rotation Friday by acquiring left-hander Drew Smyly from the Cubs, though Texas still has plenty of work remaining to bolster its starting staff for 2019 and beyond. With that in mind, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News examines a dozen free-agent pitchers the Rangers could target this offseason. Among the candidates, longtime Angels right-hander Garrett Richards stands out as a “perfect fit,” opines Grant, who argues the Rangers should offer him a two- or three-year contract with incentives. Given that Richards underwent Tommy John surgery in July, he might not be able to contribute at all in 2019. However, that’s not necessarily a problem for the Rangers because they’re unlikely to win next season, Grant notes, adding that Richards may be able to help them in 2020 – when they could be closer to contention.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Rangers Hire Chris Woodward As Manager]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=136456 2018-11-03T17:20:18Z 2018-11-03T17:01:24Z The Rangers officially announced the hiring of Chris Woodward as their  manager for the 2019 season. He signs a three-year deal with a club option for 2022 to become the 19th full-time manager in club history.

    He will be introduced by the team at a press conference on Monday, November 5th at 10am CT at Globe Life Park in Arlington.

    Woodward’s hiring brings an end to an exhaustive process to identify a successor to recently dismissed skipper Jeff Banister. He was replaced late in the season on an interim basis by Don Wakamatsu, who was considered a candidate for the full-time gig but evidently has not landed it. The hiring was initially reported last night by Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter link). Woodward, who has most recently served as the Dodgers third base coach, was called a “frontrunner” earlier in the day by Jon Morosi of MLB.com (via Twitter).

    The Rangers undertook an extensive search, but the initial effort failed to yield a clear candidate. Woodward, who just finished up his duties with the Dodgers in the World Series, was part of a second wave of names under consideration. Evidently, he aced the interview.

    Woodward, 42, built a 12-year MLB career after originally being taken in the 54th round of the 1994 draft. He last saw major-league action in 2011 and hung up his spikes for good after the 2012 campaign, so he isn’t that far removed from his playing days.

    Since that time, Woodward has worked in both the Mariners and Dodgers organizations. With Seattle, he served as minor league infield coordinator before moving up to the MLB staff for two campaigns. He ended up joining the staff of Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts. Over the past three seasons, he has high-fived many a homer-trotting Dodger and helped guide the organization to consecutive World Series appearances.

    Said the Rangers, via a press release:

    “We are excited to welcome Chris Woodward and his family to the Texas Rangers,” said Rangers President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Jon Daniels. “Chris brings high energy, outstanding leadership and communication skills, a strong knowledge of the game and its evolving strategies, and great integrity—attributes that we feel are vital for our next manager. We believe these traits will resonate with our players, our staff, and our fans.  He has also been a big part of a very successful stretch in Los Angeles.

    “We interviewed a number of strong candidates during an extensive interview process for our managerial role and believe we have found the right fit in Chris Woodward. We look forward to working with him and everyone on the baseball staff to develop and grow a culture that will lead to success for many years to come.”   

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Rangers Decline Club Options Over Chirinos, Fister, Moore, Perez]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=136387 2018-11-02T22:40:47Z 2018-11-02T20:05:49Z The Rangers have declined club options over catcher Robinson Chirinos and pitchers Doug Fister, Matt Moore, and Martin Perez. That’s a surprising move on the veteran backstop, though all three hurlers seemed destined to be sent onto the open market.

    The Texas organization has also announced a long list of players who were outrighted from the 40-man roster. Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Clayton Blackburn, Brandon Mann, Carlos Perez, and Ryan Rua are all weighing outright assignments after seemingly clearing waivers.

    Chirinos, 34, had seemed a fairly easy choice to remain behind the dish in Texas. His option had risen in value to $4.5MM due to plate-appearance escalators, Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes on Twitter, but the team will pay him $1MM just to walk away.

    While Chirinos is not noted for his skill behind the dish — in particular, he slipped to dreadful framing ratings in 2018 — he’s a highly respected player. And he also has consistently delivered much more offensive than the average catcher, with a .233/.324/.438 career slash and 35 home runs over the 735 plate appearances he has accrued since the start of 2017.

    All three pitchers will be looking for bounceback opportunities after forgettable seasons. Fister will receive a $500K buyout; his option was priced at $4.5MM. The Moore deal included a $750K  buyout, which he’ll take home in lieu of a $10MM payday. Perez, meanwhile, gets $1MM in total buyouts as the club passes on its chance to keep him in 2019 ($7.5MM) and 2020 ($9MM).

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Yankees Claim Hanser Alberto From Rangers]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=136337 2018-11-02T19:12:42Z 2018-11-02T19:03:14Z The Yankees announced that they’ve claimed infielder Hanser Alberto off waivers from the Rangers. Their 40-man roster is up to a total of 37 players.

    Alberto, 26, will give the Yankees a bit of infield depth after the loss of Didi Gregorius to Tommy John surgery last month. He’s far from a certainty to survive the season on New York’s 40-man roster, however, as he’s only a career .192/.210/.231 hitter through 192 plate appearances. On the other hand, Alberto hasn’t had much big league time to date and has been impressive in parts of four Triple-A campaigns, hitting .309/.330/.438 through exactly 1000 plate appearances. He has notable experience at every infield slot other than first base.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cubs Exercise Cole Hamels’ Option, Trade Drew Smyly To Rangers]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=136270 2018-11-02T16:32:16Z 2018-11-02T16:30:26Z 11:30am: The Rangers have formally announced the acquisition of Smyly and a player to be named later in exchange for a different player to be named later. The Cubs have also announced the moves.

    9:42am: The Cubs will exercise their $20MM club option on left-hander Cole Hamels today and also trade fellow left-hander Drew Smyly to the Rangers, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). Late last night, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that a long-term deal between Hamels and the Cubs was unlikely and that the team could make a move to clear some salary before agreeing to pay Hamels at a $20MM rate for the 2019 season.

    Cole Hamels | Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

    Hamels will step into the rotation spot that had been earmarked for Smyly when he signed a two-year, $10MM deal with Chicago last offseason. Rehabbing from Tommy John surgery at the time, Smyly inked a back-loaded, two-year contract that calls for a $7MM salary in 2019. However, Hamels’ eye-opening resurgence to nearly ace-level status with the Cubs presented Chicago with what it clearly deems a preferable alternative to Smyly.

    The Cubs have been weighing all week whether to exercise Hamels’ option or opt for a $6MM buyout. The wrinkle in that scenario is that, under the terms of the trade that sent Hamels to Chicago, the Rangers would be on the hook for the buyout sum. That Texas would pay the $6MM buyout seemed little more than a formality at the time; there was little thought that Hamels would pitch well enough to merit a $20MM salary for the upcoming season.

    In essence, then, the reportedly forthcoming trade is a somewhat creative means of the Cubs retaining Hamels while still receiving the benefit of the same level of financial compensation from the Texas organization — if not a bit more. The Rangers will absorb either all of Smyly’s $7MM salary or, speculatively speaking, could agree to pay $6MM of that sum with the Cubs eating $1MM in cost in order to keep the dollars at the same level they’d have been had Texas merely paid the buyout.

    In the end, the Rangers will receive a desperately needed rotation piece, while the Cubs will retain the former Phillies ace who immediately won the hearts of Cubs fans with an otherworldly run of success following the trade. Hamels allowed just five runs, total, through his first seven starts with the Cubs and finished out the season with a 2.36 ERA in 76 1/3 innings for the Cubs.

    While his 82.3 percent strand rate isn’t sustainable and points to some degree of regression, Hamels nonetheless looked legitimately improved following the trade. He should slot comfortably into the middle of a Cubs rotation that’ll also feature Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and a hopefully healthier Yu Darvish in 2019. The Cubs also have Mike Montgomery on hand as a valuable safety net for the rotation as well as righty Tyler Chatwood, though his three-year contract has been a bust to this point. It seems likely that the Cubs could look for opportunities to unload the remaining $25.5MM on that ill-fated signing this offseason in order to further clear some salary.

    That, perhaps, is the largest remaining question at play here. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has been vocal about his desire to improve an offense that, as he put it, “broke” late in the 2018 season and certainly in the team’s National League Wild Card loss to the Rockies. It’s seemed fair to assume that the Cubs would be prepared to spend aggressively as a means of doing so, either by investing in the free-agent market or looking at established bats on the trade market.

    However, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted this morning that other teams have gotten the sense that the Cubs’ payroll flexibility is far more limited than one might think. If that’s the case, moving Chatwood or some other money could be something of a prerequisite for further additions. Even with Smyly off the books, Hamels’ salary will push the Cubs’ payroll north of the $200MM mark (when factoring in arbitration-eligible players and pre-arb players) — quite possibly close to the $206MM luxury tax barrier; Smyly’s contract came with a $5MM luxury tax hit, whereas Hamels’ deal after the option is exercised effectively becomes a seven-year, $158MM contract and would carry a $22.5MM luxury hit. The maximum capacity of the Chicago payroll remains unknown, but the Cubs have already pushed into record territory by exercising Hamels’ option, and the offseason has yet to truly begin in earnest.

    Drew Smyly | Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

    As for the Rangers, while Smyly’s health is an unknown, he’s the type of arm they can dream on as they strive to cobble together a rotation after virtually everything possible went wrong on their starting staff in 2018. Mike Minor and Smyly are the only real locks for the Texas rotation next season, but Smyly brings significant upside to a team whose internal options beyond Minor were otherwise uninspiring.

    General manager Jon Daniels will still need to add further established options and depth pieces to the starting staff, as the current best options after Minor and Smyly look to be Ariel Jurado, Yohander Mendez, Adrian Sampson and Austin Bibens-Dirkx. None of that quartet has found success at the big league level yet, and most of the bunch even struggled in the upper minors.

    The further upshot for the Rangers is that as they enter a possible transitional or rebuilding phase, Smyly could very well emerge as a coveted trade asset on the summer market. Smyly hasn’t pitched since the 2016 season due to ongoing injury troubles — most notably the aforementioned Tommy John surgery — but he sports a career 3.74 ERA with 8.7 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 1.22 HR/9 and a 36.3 percent ground-ball rate in 570 1/3 innings. Smyly has shown flashes of brilliance at times and looked like a potential impact starter — perhaps never more so than when starring for Team USA in the most recent World Baseball Classic — though he’s yet to consistently tap into his talent while also struggling to stay on the field.