Texas Rangers Mailbag: Wading Through the Winter Meetings

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs hits a two-run home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park September 10, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs hits a two-run home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park September 10, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /

A couple of days into the Winter Meetings, we answer questions about free agency, trades and what the Texas Rangers are looking to do.

We’re a couple of days into the MLB Winter Meetings and across the league landscape, one big name has already been locked up with Stephen Strasburg returning to Washington on a seven-year, $245 million deal. The Texas Rangers however are still working to lock up their offseason targets most notably of which is star third baseman Anthony Rendon. With nothing happening yet, we have more questions than bonafide answers. At least answers directly from the organization. In our first ever mailbag, we try to answer your offseason questions about the Texas Rangers.

Right off the bat we’ve got a doozy. Anthony Rendon and Gerrit Cole represent the top position player and top pitcher on the free agent market respectively. Both are expected to command massive deals with Cole’s contract likely to be record-breaking knocking off the mark set by Stephen Strasburg on Monday. Texas is a known suitor for Rendon as they try to fill third base and have been linked to Gerrit Cole some. Could they walk away with both?

On paper yes. Texas has plenty of room before they get into luxury tax territory and even if they brought in Rendon and Cole each on $35 million per year deals, they would really come close to the tax space. All that being said, I don’t think Texas would have any interest in adding another $70-plus million to the payroll after already adding roughly $15 million in other signings. Plus, I’m not sure Cole would have much interest in the Rangers so even if the cash was there, bringing him in seems nearly impossible.

Catcher is definitely a position the Rangers could look to upgrade this offseason. The production from the signal-caller spot was poor last season and fans particularly aimed their ire at Jeff Mathis who was struggled mightily to produce offensively. As of now, Mathis joins Jose Trevino as the two catchers on the 40-man roster which does raise a few eyebrows.

Right now Texas seems solely focused on the Rendon/Donaldson market which is why we haven’t heard them connected to many catchers. It’s possible they look to the free agent market for some reinforcements and to me, Robinson Chirinos seems the most logical fit. There are also some options on the trade market if they attempt to go that route. As of now, it seems Trevino is likely your starting catcher come Opening Day but this position seems far from settled. I would expect some additions before the end of the offseason whether significant or not.

As of now, the Rangers seem locked with the Dodgers as the two most likely destinations for the MVP candidate. Rendon is fresh off a World Series with the Nationals and as of now, it seems highly unlikely Washington can bring him back financially. There’s a lot that appeals about Texas to a guy like Rendon. First off he’s a Houston native which varies in importance player-by-player. The Rangers also have a long-term need at third base and the money to spend.

However, they have some things working against them. Right now, they aren’t able to offer the same shot at contention that a club like the Dodgers could. While the Rangers are trending in the right direction, they still are coming off three consecutive losing seasons. Whereas LA could pitch Rendon on the roster they’ve got now, Texas is pitching him on where they think they’re headed. Additionally, Texas is hesitant to hand out super-long deals. Reports say the Rangers would like to go no more than five years but Rendon is likely going to get seven or eight years. If that causes Texas to blink, he could sign elsewhere.

If Rendon does go to the Dodgers, I’d be interested in whatever LA feels like becomes excess with him at the hot corner. The natural thought would be Justin Turner who currently mans third base for the Dodgers. If Rendon takes that spot, LA could either move Turner to the right side of the infield or trade him. He’ll cost a ton thought coming off a sixth straight season of 3.0 fWAR or more. Plus I think the Dodgers would rather keep him and move somebody else. Seager wouldn’t be all that affected by Rendon I’d assume so he’ll stay put at short.

With Turner likely staying because of value disparities Texas and LA would have and Seager not being affected, that leaves Lux or perhaps Max Muncy. Lux is a star prospect who likely has the inside track on being the Dodgers second basemen next season. While I’d love to have him in Arlington, I think there’s almost no way LA considers trading him nor does Texas have the means to acquire him. Now Max Muncy would be interesting. If the Dodgers signed Rendon, they could move Turner to first making Muncy surplus to requirements. He’s been stellar the past two season with a combined 10.0 fWAR in his time in Los Angeles. He can play both first and second although first may be a better fit. While the Rangers have Ronald Guzman at first now, Muncy is undoubtedly an upgrade that would intrigue Texas.

In this hypothetical scenario, Turner and Muncy could be options but I still have questions about the Rangers agreeing a deal. Turner has one-year left on his deal and Muncy’s value is pretty high, Texas might decide to look elsewhere rather than part with talent to acquire one of those guys.

To get Kris Bryant from the Cubs I can tell you it would take a lot. However, that value is still very much fluid as Bryant still has a pending grievance against Chicago regarding service time manipulation. In the next few weeks, we could get a ruling that could reduce his team control from two years to just one which would massively impact his trade value. We also have the variable about whether Texas could try to work out an extension with Bryant prior to the trade which is extremely hard to do.

Assuming he’s got two years of arbitration left as he does now, a package probably starts with Josh Jung. From there, I’d imagine Texas will have to add in one of their lefty starters that is near the big leagues i.e. Palumbo, Burke, Allard or Hearn. I’d also see the Cubs asking for one of Texas’ young relievers, possibly a Jonathan Hernandez. Even then, I’m not sure that gets it done with Chicago apparently asking for a sky high return. If it’s just for a couple of seasons, the Rangers wouldn’t have the motivation to get a deal done that a current contender would. Because of that, I see a deal as highly unlikely to put together. If the Rangers miss out on Rendon and Donaldson, they might look to Miguel Andujar as an alternative.