Grading the Texas Rangers’ pre-MLB lockout free agent acquisitions

Chris Bachman
Jul 25, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Kole Calhoun (56) reacts after striking out against the Chicago Cubs during the eight inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 25, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Kole Calhoun (56) reacts after striking out against the Chicago Cubs during the eight inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Texas Rangers Jon Gray
Sep 25, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jon Gray pitches against the San Francisco Giants in the second inning at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Michael Ciaglo-USA TODAY Sports /

Jon Gray, SP – 4 years/ $56 million

Rotation help has arrived for the Texas Rangers with the signing of Jon Gray

Career Numbers (7 years):

  • 4.59 ERA
  • 104 ERA+
  • 1.338 WHIP
  • 829.1 IP
  • 53-49 W/L

Jon Gray was the 3rd overall pick back in 2013 out of Oklahoma. He was looked at as one of the more upside pitchers on the market and will be called to lead the starting rotation (as it stands). Now seeing an ERA of 4.59 may not inspire the most positive reactions but he did spend half his career games in hitter-friendly Coors Field.

Gray has been plagued by bad luck posting a career .321 batting average of balls in play. It’s not due to home runs though as he allows an average of 1.1 per 9 innings. He’s more of a ground ball pitcher seeing a 46.1% rate as compared to a 19.6% fly-ball rate. That should play well in front of what projects to be an above-average defense.

The Rangers hit the contract right on the head. Both MLBTR and I predicted a 4 year $56 million deal after he declined a reported contract offer from the Rockies. He posted a pretty good 3.84 ERA as recently as 2019 and the deal hinders on him finding that form.

Grade: A-

There is still some risk with Gray. He may not hit his peak as his peripheral numbers predict. He also had a home run rate of 1.4 and 1.3 per 9 the past 2 years. He’ll need to keep the ball down, even in this ballpark, and allow his defense to earn their worth. The hope is though he’ll achieve the ceiling that made him such a high draft pick and be a playoff starter for the next few years.

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