Jon Heyman reported Saturday that the Texas Rangers were interested in a couple of top-tier relievers in the free agent market.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweeted out Saturday afternoon that the Texas Rangers were a surprise candidate for two of the top relief arms on the market, Adam Ottavino, and Zach Britton. Zach Britton has subsequently signed with the New York Yankees but Texas likely is still interested in Ottavino.
This comes as a bit of a surprise for a club in rebuilding mode to be interested in fairly high priced, veteran relievers. Ottavino has spent the last 7 seasons with the Colorado Rockies after being a 1st round draft pick of the Cardinals back in 2006. A 33-year old, Ottavino has established himself as one of the top relief arms in the game when he’s healthy.
In 2018, Ottavino appeared in 75 games for the Rockies posting a fantastic 2.43 ERA. He keeps runners off base with a WHIP below 1.00 and has an impressive strikeout rate of 13 per 9 innings. Ottavino may not be the name Texas fans recognize the quickest among this year’s free agent crop but he did make headlines back in December saying he “… would strike Babe Ruth out every time.”
Why Would Texas Be Interested?
Even when Britton was still available the Rangers interest in these two pitchers seems a bit confusing. Both guys are deep into careers and are looking for hefty paydays. Britton signed with the Yankees at 3 years, $39 million. MLB Trade Rumors predicted at the beginning of the offseason that Ottavino would get 3 years, $30 million.
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Perhaps Texas sees Ottavino has a guy that hold together a bullpen filled with young guys and also adds some depth in the case that closer Jose Leclerc gets traded which seems likely. He hasn’t closed much in his career but his swing and miss numbers suggest he could do it. They also could trade Ottavino if need be although veteran relievers on more than 1-year deals don’t generate tons of value.
To be completely honest, I don’t like the idea of bringing in Ottavino. It’s not for a lack of talent but rather a timing issue. At 33, Ottavino probably has a max of 4 more years in the MLB. Texas likely is 3 years away from being competitive meaning you’re investing $30 million for some meaningless relief innings in the grand scheme of things.
I’d prefer Texas look for younger, long-term options or veterans on 1-year deals rather than these long-term investments. Obviously Britton is off the market for Texas but I think Ottavino is highly unlikely as well.