Money talks is how the saying goes, but for the Texas Rangers this off-season, it’s arguably their most salient selling point.
Payroll is down to near all-time lows in franchise history, sitting at approximately $36 million. This leaves an incredible amount of financial flexibility from which to leverage on the free agent market. So, the Texas Rangers are not poor or lacking in resources to say the least.
But as much as money talks, there are other factors that inevitably go into a player’s decision to choose a new destination. Examples include geography (like Trevor Story), team culture (which the Rangers believe they have), but also winning. And emphasis on the third example.
Texas didn’t do much in the winning category in 2021, finishing in last place in the AL West with a 60-102 record, their worst output since 1973. To say there’s an uphill climb in the recruiting department to lure players in might be understating things.
That’s why the Rangers must be willing to get comfortable with the idea of a blank check. In other words, be entirely willing to dish out to a premium player’s demands.
The most realistic way for the Texas Rangers to land free agents this winter is to hand them the proverbial “blank check”
Upper echelon free agents like Corey Seager and Carlos Correa are widely expected to command contracts worth $300 million or more this winter. Luckily, both are young and talented enough where the risk is worth the reward. But even if it wasn’t, it’s not like the Rangers would’ve had much of a say in the matter anyway.
If you talk as much as Chris Young and Jon Daniels have about spending money this winter, you have to back your words up with meaningful action. Daniels has missed before, and fans should be skeptical this time around too.
No one is confusing the Rangers for a premier destination at the moment. Sure, no state income tax, but also no winning (right now). The latter could really pose a problem in the minds of those players whose motive is to win rather than cash in (or win and cash in, ideally).
That’s not to say the future isn’t bright (it is), and Texas Rangers baseball is certainly on the upswing. But we live in the present, and that means players see things for what they are right now. And right now? Free agents see 102 losses in 2021 and probably hesitate about picking up and moving to Arlington.
We’ll find out soon enough how much money talks. But in any event, the Rangers better get comfortable with the idea of handing out blank checks. Give these players what they want financially, because that’s realistically the best bargaining chip Texas can bring to the table at the moment.