As the calendar turned to 2014, the Texas Rangers now start the countdown for pitchers and catchers to report for spring training on February 16. The only question mark left on the Texas Rangers is if they will make the final big splash in the offseason and sign the Japanese superstar pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.
So far rumors have the New York Yankees as the front runner to pick him up. But, Jon Daniels and the Texas Rangers are also in the mix.
Bob Simpson has mentioned for the 2014 season, they are over their planned budget as of opening day, so that news seems to make it unlikely that they will be willing to spend big in order to bring Tanaka to Texas.
But if you remember, Daniels said he didn’t see the Texas Rangers signing anyone big after the MLB Winter Meetings, and the Saturday before Christmas, the Texas Rangers made an agreement with outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.
It doesn’t surprise me that Bob Simpson or Jon Daniels doesn’t come right out and say they are all in on Masahiro Tanaka. I expect the Rangers to make a good push to sign him. I would be surprised if they did sign him.
Even if they don’t sign him, Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Alexi Ogando and Matt Harrison will be a solid starting rotation. It does require that they are healthy and there are some question marks about Ogando and Harrison. Harrison said he is healthy and is working hard right now to get prepared for spring training, but after missing almost the entire 2013 season, it is uncertain how well he’ll play in 2014.
I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point we see Ogando back in the bullpen. He’s a great pitcher, but the long innings and high pitcher count seem to take a wear on his body.
With 45 days to go, hopefully Jon Daniels will figure this last part out. It may not require any other big names to join the Rangers, but it would help to know if Harrison or Colby Lewis are ready for 2014.
So as the countdown begins for pitchers and catchers to report to camp, we get closer and closer to opening day. I’m pretty excited for the upcoming season. The Rangers are again a top favorite for the division. It’s a great time to be a Texas Rangers fan in a great baseball town. Here’s to 2014! Go Rangers.