Texas Rangers: Why Jon Daniels Pitching Plan Makes Sense

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ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 05: President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Jon Daniels of the Texas Rangers talks with the media after announcing the resignation of Manager Ron Washington at Globe Life Park in Arlington on September 5, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. Ron Washington informed the club that he has chosen to resign in order to turn his full attention to addressing an off-the-field personal matter. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 05: President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Jon Daniels of the Texas Rangers talks with the media after announcing the resignation of Manager Ron Washington at Globe Life Park in Arlington on September 5, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. Ron Washington informed the club that he has chosen to resign in order to turn his full attention to addressing an off-the-field personal matter. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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At the beginning of the off-season many believed the Texas Rangers would be going after top-tier pitching talent. That is not the case, but general manager Jon Daniels has set up the Rangers in good position for the future.

The Texas Rangers added three key veteran pitchers this off-season. They’ve signed righty Doug Fister, lefty Mike Minor, and acquired Matt Moore from the San Francisco Giants. All three pitchers will likely join the starting rotation to begin the 2018 season.

Fister was signed early in the off-season to a one-year $4 million deal. Fister also has a $4.5 million team option with a $500K buyout for the 2019 season. Matt Moore is on a one-year deal worth $9 million for the 2018 season. He has a 2019 team option as well, but has a $750K buyout.

Lastly, Mike Minor was signed to a three-year deal worth $28 million. He was a reliever with the Kansas City Royals last season, but figures to join the rotation in 2018. Minor hasn’t started a Major League game since 2014 with the Atlanta Braves.

Four-time All-Star Cole Hamels is expected to be the leader in the rotation. He’s on a one-year deal with a team option for 2019. The team option is worth $20 million, but Texas can settle for a buyout at $6 million.

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Lefty Martin Perez will have big shoes to fill as he’s expected to be the No. 2 pitcher in the rotation. He’s also on a one-year deal, but has two team options for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Both options have buyouts for less than $800,000 annually.

The Rangers have constructed a starting rotation where four of the five starters are on one-year deals. At first glance that doesn’t seem like a smart strategy. It is actually the best move for the future of the franchise.

Most of the Rangers top pitching prospects are a year or two away from Major League ready. Texas must find a way to stall and give those players time to develop. Well, Jon Daniels has done exactly that.

Daniels has built a starting rotation with veteran arms on one or two year deals. The most likely scenario now is, Daniels attempts to trade four, if not all five of his starters for younger and more controllable talent.

The Rangers gave up highly regarded prospects in trades for Cole Hamels and Jonathan Lucroy. It now appears Daniels wants to build through the farm system rather than trade for veteran talent. This could be the best move for the future of the Rangers franchise.

The plan now appears to be trade veteran arms for younger pitchers and let them develop in the minor leagues. The Rangers could potentially trade Moore, Fister, and Hamels before the 2018 trade deadline. Then let their younger pitchers get an opportunity at the Major League level.

Jon Daniels has built a competitive rotation, but not a championship staff. All five projected starters will likely be off the roster within the next two seasons. The Rangers have a plan set in place, but it now depends on the development of these young arms.

The Rangers don’t want to spent big money on free agent arms right now. They want to develop two or three reliable starters through their farm system. Then in 2019 or 2020 sign free agent starters to fill the rotation.

Next: What to Expect From Martin Perez in 2018

This team isn’t ready to win in 2018, and likely won’t be for another season or two. They shouldn’t try to rush the development of their young players. Fans need to be patient, because this team is getting better, but it will take time.

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