The Texas Rangers lost out on the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes on Friday. The two-way Japanese star decided to sign with the rival Angels. That doesn’t mean, however, the Rangers can’t be contenders in 2018.
Did the Texas Rangers want Shohei Ohtani? You bet they did. They poured countless hours of scouting, dollars in flights to and from Japan, and even more hours of doing way more than their due diligence on getting Ohtani to come to Arlington.
That’s all behind them now. The Rangers aren’t getting Ohtani. Jon Daniels isn’t going to sit around and pout over Ohtani’s decision to sign with a division rival. The Winter Meetings have yet to take place, and every free agent (minus Miles Mikolas) they’ve potentially targeted is still on the market.
The Texas Rangers are currently a decent baseball team. They’re about a .500 team, give or take a few games. I’d give the Rangers a few and say, if healthy, they’re a couple games over. The Rangers have plenty of good bats, with a couple guys due for good seasons. They also have a good amount of younger players instead of aging veterans. Texas could definitely use a couple more arms on the pitching staff, but the Rangers aren’t done making moves.
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If the Rangers sign Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, or Alex Cobb, that makes the rotation not only filled out, but way more than serviceable. A rotation of Arrieta/Cobb/Lynn, Cole Hamels, Mike Minor, Martin Perez, and Doug Fister is a pretty good rotation, with a good amount of upside. The Rangers would still have money to add another bullpen arm and an outfielder, making the team even better.
Would they be good enough to beat out the Houston Astros? No. Would they be good enough to make the playoffs? Absolutely. Remember, if the 2017 Rangers were slightly better than league average in save opportunities, they would’ve been a playoff team, not the Minnesota Twins. Getting into the playoffs is never a bad thing.
There are also a couple external things that benefit the Rangers The Seattle Mariners gave up two of their top-10 prospects in a trade with Miami to gain international funds and Dee Gordon, who they plan to put in center field. The international money gained was obviously for attracting Ohtani to Seattle. The move was aggressive and did not pay off. It definitely hurt the Mariners.
In addition, just because the Angels landed Ohtani, it doesn’t necessarily make them a contender. They do have a lineup that most would consider to be top-10 in baseball, but even with Ohtani, starting pitching is a bit of a question for them. They lost their best bullpen arm in Yusmeiro Petit, who signed with the Oakland A’s this offseason. As the Rangers proved last season, having a productive offense isn’t everything. I would also question how the Angels will manage Albert Pujols on days that Ohtani is in the lineup.
The Texas Rangers definitely have areas to improve. Ohtani will not be a part of that. There are, however, plenty of other options. With the Winter Meetings looming, expect the Rangers to have themselves involved with a lot of players. The offseason is far from over.
Rebuilding is not something the Rangers are going to consider, and for good reason. There’s a strong case for the team if they continue to solidify the rotation and add to the bullpen. How the rest of the offseason goes will tell the story, but the Texas Rangers are much closer to contending than they are to rebuilding.