Roundtable Talk: Predicting Free agent signings for the Texas Rangers this offseason
By Travis Koch
Texas fans aren’t going to like hearing this, but the Rangers aren’t likely to field a team that will compete for the World Series next season. No, next year will be about developing the young players, both in the majors and the minors. There are talented pitchers on the way, but they won’t be ready in 2019. So the Rangers just need to hold the fort until those reinforcements arrive.
With that in mind, the Rangers should target cheap, veteran pitchers they can sign to one-year deals. James Shields fits that description. At first glance, you’d wonder why I’d suggest such a thing. Shields posted a 7-16 record to go along with a 4.53 ERA last season. It wasn’t a great year for him.
But Shields’ poor record and inflated ERA don’t tell the whole story. First, he posted the second lowest opponents’ batting average of his career. Opposing teams only hit .245 against him. Second, while he doesn’t strike out batters as he did in his prime, he did punch out 154 hitters last season, his highest number since 2015.
Most importantly, though, Shields pitched 204 innings last year. The Texas Rangers need a veteran pitcher who can chew up innings next season and not let games get out of hand. Shields will provide that. Again, that’s something fans aren’t going to want to hear, but it’s the reality. And his price will be right. Tyson Ross just signed a one year, $5.75 million contract with the Tigers. I’d assume Shields will be available for something similar, if not less. It’s not sexy, but Shields is a free agent the Rangers could use.