While third base is the priority, Jon Daniels and the Texas Rangers seem to have the resources to hang around in the race for Gerrit Cole.
The Yankees may be dominating the headlines regarding Gerrit Cole’s free agency but per reports, the Texas Rangers seem to at least be hanging in the mix. Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweeted out an update on Cole’s market that confirmed what we knew which is that the Yankees have made signing Gerrit Cole their top priority. However, included in the tweet, Heyman also reminded us that other teams are in the mix, the usual suspects such as the Dodgers and Angels, the outside-looking-in team the Phillies, and your sleeper team, the Rangers.
In all honesty, this still feels like an extreme long shot partially because it seems the Yankees are essentially going to hand Cole a blank check and give him almost whatever he wants in a contract. Cole’s hometown Angels aren’t far off that same mindset and the Dodgers will continue to add star players until they finally get over the last hurdle and win a World Series. Philly seems determined to ensure that they didn’t waste money on inking Bryce Harper last offseason so they’ve been connected to every big name free agent available. But Texas’ fit in this group is a little different. They aren’t the perennial big market contenders in the Dodgers or Yanks. They aren’t Cole’s hometown team nor do they have a mounting pressure to win this season. They just happen to have a need for a frontline starter, a lot of payroll space to utilize and a new ballpark to christen.
While third base is the priority, Jon Daniels and the Texas Rangers seem to have the resources to hang around in the race for Gerrit Cole. Texas has zeroed in on landing MVP-caliber third baseman Anthony Rendon this season and you can see their plans in the two moves they’ve already made signing RHP Kyle Gibson and RHP Jordan Lyles each to fairly conservative contracts to help fill out their rotation. But if that doesn’t pan out and neither does their Josh Donaldson-shaped backup plan, could they offer up the proverbial blank check to Cole?
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Cole is hands down the best free agent starting pitcher on the market this offseason fresh off a dominant campaign with the Houston Astros that culminated in a World Series appearance. He finished second in the AL Cy Young vote losing out by four votes to teammate Justin Verlander. Last year he finished the season with a 7.4 fWAR thanks to a 2.50 ERA, a 2.64 FIP and a stellar 13.82 strikeouts per nine innings rate. It was the most productive season of the 29-year old’s career building off his 2018 season that was his second most productive season. Cole is already elite and seems to be getting better.
Adding Cole to a rotation that featured Mike Minor and Lance Lynn along with new additions Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles would make a case for the best group in baseball. But if Texas did find themselves leaving this offseason with Gerrit Cole, albeit very unlikely, would they keep both Minor and Lynn? Or would they trade one opting to capitalize on their trade value while they are at their peak. It would be a tough decision to make for Jon Daniels but one he likely has to face if the Rangers pursuit of Cole goes anywhere. At the moment though, it seems like being “in the mix” for Texas has more to do with them being one of a handful of teams with the financial means to sign Cole than them being a true contender for the ace’s signature.