AL WestAnalysis

Offseason Outlook: Texas Rangers

 All offseason, Diamond Digest writers will be taking a look at each team’s 2020 season and looking forward to what moves each team might have to make to set themselves up for improvement in 2021. Today, Brendan Bell takes a look at the Rangers! 

After a rough 2020, the Rangers appear to be committed to a “youth movement” moving forward. What led to this and how exactly will the team go about building the roster for 2021 and beyond?  


2020 Season-In-Review

2020 Record: 22-38, Last Place in AL West
Team MVP: 3B Isaiah Kiner-Falefa
Team Cy Young: SP Lance Lynn
Biggest Positive Surprise: P Kyle Cody 
Biggest Negative Surprise: The Starting Rotation Except for Lance Lynn

The Rangers ended the 2020 season in a completely different state than they expected to be in. Heading into opening day, there was optimism surrounding a revamped starting rotation headlined by All-Star caliber pitchers including Lance Lynn, Mike Minor, and Corey Kluber. In addition, a full season of Joey Gallo and Willie Calhoun was expected to bring offense to the table that would round out a competitive team. However, everything that could’ve gone wrong seemed to do so for this club. Corey Kluber threw exactly one inning before suffering a season ending injury. Starters Mike Minor, Kyle Gibson, Jordan Lyles, and Kolby Allard were nowhere near as effective as Lance Lynn was every fifth day. Disappointing production from almost every position player outside of Isaih Kiner-Falefa led to the worst statistical offense in the American League. All in all, 2020 was a year to forget in Arlington, outside of the opportunity to host the World Series. One stat that summarizes the Rangers season compared to the elites of MLB is that the Los Angeles Dodgers outhomered the Rangers by 7 at Globe Life Field in 10 less games at the site. Much work will need to be done to get this team back into contention for the future years. 


2020-2021 Offseason Preview

Offseason Overview

Key Losses:

  • OF/DH Shin-Soo Choo
  • SP Corey Kluber 
  • C Jeff Mathis 

Areas of Greatest Need:

  • Young Controllable Talent 
  • Veteran Trade Chips 

Finding an area of specific need is tough for rebuilding teams because the overall goal of 2021 might just be to play as many young prospects as possible to see who sticks on the roster long term. With that being said, bringing in some experienced veterans to guide the youth through the grind of a season would definitely be beneficial as well. In addition, buying low on players with relatively high ceilings could help the Rangers at the trade deadline get some valuable prospects in return. The team isn’t exactly losing a ton of talent in free agency, but the amount of talent that they do have is hardly anything to brag about. MLB.com recently pegged the Ranger roster as the worst in the American League heading into the Winter. 

Offseason Wishlist

Free Agency

Desired Targets:

  • SP Corey Kluber (1 Year/$7 Million)
  • RP Ken Giles (1 Year/$3 Million)
  • RP Tyler Clippard (1 Year/$2 Million)
  • RF Yasiel Puig (1 Year/$4 Million)

The Rangers will definitely not be looking to spend big in free agency this year given the current state of the team. However, there are some signings that will give a competitive boost to the roster. The buzz around Arlington is that although the team declined Corey Kluber’s $18 million option, they do intend to sign him to a smaller deal to see what the former Cy Young has left in the tank after consecutive injury plagued seasons. Outside of that, with relievers being as sought after at the trade deadline as they are in today’s game, the idea of taking a flyer on proven talent like Ken Giles or Tyler Clippard to name a few would be a pretty good idea. Finally, the Rangers definitely need a boost to the lineup. A one year prove it deal for Yasiel Puig could potentially yield a nice trade at the deadline and at a minimum put a recognizable name in a lineup that consists of many younger unproven players for fans to see. 

Trades

Trade SP Lance Lynn to New York Yankees

It was very surprising at the trade deadline when the Rangers held on to Lance Lynn despite much speculation he was going to be dealt. Quite frankly, it didn’t make much sense to hang on to him because his value seemed at an all time high and there were many teams who could’ve used a reliable option in the rotation for a pennant race. Nonetheless, Lynn still remains a valuable commodity at a relatively inexpensive $9 million with one year remaining on his contract. If the Rangers could pry Clint Frazier, Jonathan Loiasiga, and/or Clarke Schmidt in a return package, they would have to seriously consider it. The Yankees have been reluctant to dangle Frazier despite his obscure path to playing time throughout his career, but if they were to acquire Lance Lynn to complement Gerrit Cole and Luis Severino atop their rotation, they might be willing to pull the trigger on the deal.

Trade RF Joey Gallo to St. Louis Cardinals

Trading Lance Lynn would be one thing, but trading Joey Gallo would signal a full blown rebuild for the Rangers moving forward. He is essentially the only power bat in the lineup as it projects out currently and has improved his defense in the outfield enough to receive the Gold Glove in RF in 2020. However, Gallo has not been able to put together a consistent full season in the big leagues to this point, and concerns if he ever will make enough contact to be one of the true feared sluggers in the game. With two years of club control left, the Rangers don’t appear to be in the running for a playoff berth in that time frame. With that being said, I think the Rangers could capitalize on an opportunity to net a significant prospect return for the 2019 All Star. It wouldn’t necessarily be selling high, but Gallo still has a high ceiling at the major league level. One team that needs some thump in their lineup is the St. Louis Cardinals. After losing sluggers like Marcell Ozuna, Luke Voit, and Randy Arozarena, the Cardinals could definitely use a guy like Joey Gallo to complement Paul Goldschmidt. The Rangers would need a lot in return for Gallo, as he is a fan favorite in Arlington, but if the Redbirds offered prospects such as LHP Matthew Liberatore or Nolan Gorman, they would have to listen. 

Trade 2B Rougned Odor to San Francisco Giants

You might be wondering: who would possibly trade for Rougned Odor with his massive decline in the past few seasons? Well, the answer is nobody unless finances are involved. Over the last few offseasons, there has always been a trade that from a sheer baseball perspective don’t make sense. However, when you look at the contract situations of the players involved, the deal makes more sense. It’s essentially taking a bad contract and trading it for another bad contract. There is no doubt Rougned Odor’s 7 year/$49 million extension he signed after a strong 2016 season has been a disaster for the Rangers, and many fans are tired of him consistently being penciled in as the team’s second baseman. The one thing Odor has managed to bring to the table is power production, which is something that the San Francisco Giants have been lacking in recent years. With a variety of high priced veteran contracts on their team, the Giants could be looking to get out from under certain guys like Brandon Belt, Johnny Cueto, or Evan Longoria. In a strict, bad contract for bad contract deal, the Rangers and Giants could come together to see if a change of scenery could help the players involved. 


2021 Projected Roster

Projected Lineup:

1)  CF Leody Tavares

2) 3B Isiah Kiner-Falefa

3) DH Willie Calhoun

4) RF Joey Gallo

5) LF Nick Solak

6) 2B Rougned Odor

7) SS Elvis Andrus

8) 1B Ronald Guzman

9) C Jose Trevino

Projected Rotation: 

  1. Lance Lynn
  2. Kyle Gibson
  3. Jordan Lyles
  4. Kyle Cody
  5. Wes Benjamin

Projected Bullpen: 

  • Jose Leclerc 
  • Rafael Montero
  • Jonathan Hernandez
  • Joely Rodriguez
  • Taylor Hearn
  • Jimmy Herget
  • Brett Martin
  • Kolby Allard 

The 2020 offseason will say a lot about how the front office sees this team moving forward. It’s hard to project how seriously the team will overhaul the roster, but don’t expect many signings of high quality free agents. The Lynn/Gallo trade watch is the most intriguing thing to look at for the Rangers this winter, as they are the only valuable trade chips on the roster. It should be interesting to see how it all plays out, and we can only hope to see a team with more direction on the field in 2021.

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