Lance Lynn has been signed, but the Texas Rangers still have some work to do this offseason. Specifically, they may need one more starter and at least one more reliever.
The Texas Rangers finally signed a starting pitcher to a contract of more than two years. Yesterday evening, they came to an agreement with 31-year-old right-hander, Lance Lynn, on a 3-year/$30 million deal. Lynn should slot into the Rangers rotation as the #1 or #2 starter, in front of or behind Mike Minor.
He’s the third starter Texas has signed this offseason. First it was Drew Smyly, then Edinson Volquez, and now Lance Lynn. Add incumbents Mike Minor and Yohander Mendez to the mix and they have a five-man rotation.
Now, the Rangers must decide whether they are comfortable with that rotation, or if it needs more help. Plus, they must at some point look to sign a reliever or two, as the bullpen lacks depth in its current state.
So, who will they target next and, more importantly, who will they sign next? Just to note, now that they’ve signed a multi-year pitcher and essentially filled out a rotation, it seems unlikely they’ll look to spend big or long-term on anyone else.
Additional starting pitchers to consider
Those are the remaining free agent starters I can see signing a one-year deal and gaining the Rangers’ interests. Don’t worry, I’ll narrow the list down.
Three of those pitchers would come over from very pitcher-friendly ballparks. Derek Holland from At&t Park in San Francisco and Mike Fiers and Edwin Jackson from Oakland Alameda Coliseum. Thus, there would be cause for concern given the transition to a hitter-friendly Globe Life Park.
Based on the single statistic of home runs allowed, Fiers is out of the running. He allowed the third most home runs in the majors in 2018. Holland had his strongest season in quite some time with the Giants in 2018; therefore, it makes since for him to stick with the National League/big ballpark formula. It’s not out of the question that Holland signs a multi-year deal with a team either. Jackson makes it to the next round of consideration.
The likelihood of the Texas Rangers signing another left-handed starter is slim. They already have three; it wouldn’t make much sense for them to add a fourth. That, among with a number of other reasons, removes Martin Perez from the list.
Texas has expressed some interest in Shelby Miller, but that seems like a last resort or an eventual minor league contract. Miller has pitched 38 total innings over the past two seasons and hasn’t posted good numbers since 2014.
The three best options are Edwin Jackson, Anibal Sanchez and James Shields. Jackson would likely be the cheapest and Sanchez would be the most sought after. Shields is right in between. He brings leadership, he logs innings and he’s spent nearly his entire career pitching in the American League. Shields was the pick by Nolan Writin’s Ben Zajdel as the Rangers’ free agent to sign.
Additional relievers to consider
News recently broke that the Rangers have traded lefty reliever Alex Claudio to the Milwaukee Brewers. The loss gives Texas maybe four trustworthy arms in the pen? Jose Leclerc, Chris Martin, Jeffrey Springs, and Jesse Chavez. They’ll need eight or nine to start the year.
There are an infinite number of relief pitchers left on the free agent market. Within the list are many viable options for Texas to sign to one-year deals. The six pitchers mentioned above are a few that stand out–two left-handers and four right-handers.
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Honestly, bringing back Diekman or Barnette, or both, makes sense. They both pitched very well while with the Texas Rangers and there wouldn’t be much of a transition period, even with a revamped coaching staff.
Diekman could reclaim his role as the set-up man and Barnette would flex into sixth or seventh innings just like the old days. I could even see the Rangers bringing back Diekman on a multi-year contract.
One or two relief signings should do the trick. Texas may very well afford prospect C.D. Pelham a spot in the pen come opening day. Additionally, prospects Taylor Hearn and Joe Palumbo could transition into the big leagues out of the bullpen. Hearn and Palumbo may not start the year with the team, but they’ll certainly break in sometime in 2019 (barring any major setbacks).
Ultimately, I narrowed the Texas Rangers’ free agent search to five arms…James Shields, Anibal Sanchez, Edwin Jackson, Jake Diekman, and Tony Barnette. I may very well go 0/5, but it’s just a bunch of educated guesses.