Texas Rangers: Why rebuilding right now is a smart move
By Seth Carlson
Contrary to popular belief, the Texas Rangers might actually be starting their rebuild at the perfect time.
Nobody wants to hear that their team is rebuilding.
Perhaps team officials phrase it as a “re-tool” or a “re-boot”, but we all know those are just euphemisms for what inevitably happens to every team in baseball at some point or another.
That would be the dreaded rebuild.
And that undesirable, oftentimes lengthy process is something the Texas Rangers are unfortunately closer to starting rather than finishing at this moment in time.
You might not have known that Jon Daniels and crew were initiating a rebuild based off their recent slew of activity, but the relegating of Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor to lesser roles, the trading of Lance Lynn to the Chicago White Sox, the trade for first baseman Nate Lowe, the signing of David Dahl and the trading of Rafael Montero to the Seattle Mariners all appear to signal what could be in the works for the Texas Rangers soon.
The recent transactions made by this organization will not only affect their 40-man roster in 2021, but also their future trajectory, as more attention is being focused on what’s ahead rather than what’s in front of them.
In many ways, that’s a highly encouraging development that should be embraced by fans.
But also, this rebuild is being perfectly timed.
The Texas Rangers might be onto something after four straight losing seasons.
The Texas Rangers haven’t had a winning season since 2016, when they won a second consecutive AL West division title with the best record in the American League at 95-67, only to be ousted by the Toronto Blue Jays for a second straight year in the ALDS.
Since 2016, though, Texas has a combined 245 wins, including two 78-84 campaigns in 2017 and 2019, with a miserable 67-95 season sandwiched in 2018.
During the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the Rangers finished just 22-38 over 60 games.
After a certain point, the question concerning a rebuild becomes an “if” rather than a “when”, especially after four consecutive losing seasons.
With veteran outfielder Shin-Soo Choo’s contract off the books heading into 2021, the Rangers were able to rid themselves of the first financial roadblock impeding on their plans to rebuild.
Elvis Andrus’ extension vacates the payroll after 2022 and Odor’s the same year, as does the contract of righty Kyle Gibson.
Jordan Lyles comes due after 2021.
See the trend here?
Not coincidentally, the team has acquired young talent this off-season whose hopeful development will also coincide with the termination of those veteran contracts.
The hiring of a new GM in Chris Young is also significant in the timing of this rebuild. While Young isn’t serving in full GM capacities right now, he certainly should be doing so by… 2022 (if not much earlier, of course).
With baseball in a state of relative disarray following the labor stalemate between the owners and Players’ Association over the summer, and due to the economic contraction of the sport as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, teams across MLB are reeling and scaling back operations heading into 2021.
But the Texas Rangers were already cutting back payroll and gearing up for the future anyway.
In a sense, you could say the team was ahead of the curve from those standpoints.
Give credit to Jon Daniels and company, who realized the impending dire circumstances and devised an offseason strategy that might prove to be beneficial down the road as the Rangers look to begin a new era of winning baseball in the Lone Star State.
They might have timed this whole operation just right, after all.