As the Texas Rangers continue to scour the free agent market for starting pitching, two of their top targets they look set to miss out on.
Per reports on Wednesday the Texas Rangers seem to be set to miss out on two of the better starting pitchers on the free agent market this offseason. Cole Hamels, a veteran lefty who spent half of 2015 through half of 2018 with Texas has reportedly agreed to a one-year, $18 million deal with the Atlanta Braves per Jeff Passan of ESPN. Just after Hamels signed, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeted that the Rangers were one of the team pursuing the four time All-Star.
Joining the news that Hamels had signed and eliminated an option for the Texas Rangers was the report from Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News that Texas was out of the bidding for RHP Zack Wheeler whose market has been heating up the past few days. Wheeler was a name that had been connected with the Rangers from the start of free agency and his projected price tag of four years, $68 million given by Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs seemed more than reasonable given Wheeler’s relatively young age and solid seasons in 2018 and 2019.
However, reports from across the baseball landscape Tuesday surmised that Wheeler already had an offer in excess of $100 million and was expecting to land a five-year deal. That price tag has continued to increase leading to Texas reportedly pulling out of the race for the right-hander. Given Wheeler’s extensive injury history and lack of consistent production over the long-term, the Rangers seemingly felt they could more confidently spend their money elsewhere.
Where Does the Market Stand Now?
So with the Rangers out on Wheeler and Hamels off the board, what options are still available. Obviously the top two guys in Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg are still out there but in a moment of honesty, Texas isn’t signing either of those guys. Both are elite pitchers that will command massive contracts and have their choice of destination. Texas isn’t attractive enough right this second to land one of them even if the Rangers were to offer the same deal as other suitors.
So then we look to a second tier that now includes Madison Bumgarner, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dallas Keuchel. All three guys are veteran lefties that are known more for their craftiness than overpowering stuff. If Texas wants to make an impact signing at starting pitcher it likely comes from this group. They’ve already added Kyle Gibson reportedly who FanGraphs had as the #15 free agent in their Top 50 rankings. That adds some insurance to the rotation if nothing else materializes but I’d expect the Texas Rangers to still make runs at other notable starters with Hyun-Jin Ryu feeling the most likely.