As they prepare to move into a new ballpark next year, the Texas Rangers look ready to be major players in free agency.
Since winning the AL West in 2016, the Texas Rangers have gone 78-84, 67-95 and 78-84 again over the last three seasons. With plans to open a new ballpark next season, some splashy aggression this offseason would have been easy to predict, and that’s just what appears to be coming.
Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News has reported the Rangers are willing to go after the biggest names in free agency this winter. Gerrit Cole? Anthony Rendon? Stephen Strasburg? Josh Donaldson? All potentially in play, apparently. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com further reported the Rangers are expected to be big players in free agency.
Texas had a payroll of about $130 million last season, with a projection around $110 million for 2020 right now. But general manager Jon Daniels seems ready to be aggressive. Daniels told Grant on Monday:
"The last couple of years, we really haven’t explored it. We didn’t feel it was the right time. This year, we are going to look at everything. Our goal is to get better, period. There are a couple of spots more [available] than others. We have signed [top free agents] before and at some point I have to suspect we will again."
So, which spots and who specifically could they be targeting?
With a significant need at third base, and since he’s a native Texan, the Rangers have been easy to point to as a team who would target Rendon. Coming off a resurgent season with the Atlanta Braves, Donaldson looks like an easy fallback if they aren’t quite willing to pay up for Rendon. Mike Moustakas would also be an option.
Even if they can’t land Cole or Strasburg, the Rangers will be able to pick from some other good starting pitcher options on the market (Zack Wheeler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Jake Odorizzi, etc.).
Getting both Cole and Rendon, with each set to command at least $200 million over at least six or seven years, would be practically impossible even for the most aggressive team in free agency this offseason. But expect the Rangers to add a couple notable names, and address their two biggest needs: third base and starting pitching.