But don’t sleep on the savvy addition of right-hander Jon Gray, who helps fortify a starting rotation that ranked near the bottom of the league in nearly all categories in 2021.
Texas inked Gray to a four-year, $56 million contract amidst the frenzy of player movement in late November and early December. That averages out to roughly $14 million per year, a very reasonable salary for a mid-rotation starter who provides durability, innings and a veteran presence to a young group.
On the surface, the 30-year-old’s statistics in 2021 are far from eye-popping (4.59 ERA, 4.22 FIP, 1.33 WHIP), though he did have 157 punch-outs in 149 innings pitched, which was encouraging. He also made 29 starts, which would’ve been second on the Rangers in 2021 behind 30 starts from Jordan Lyles.
You should take Gray’s 2021 stats (if not his career stats) with a grain of salt, however, due to the fact that he has spent his entire big league tenure so far with the Colorado Rockies, who play 81 games in a pitcher’s hell known as Coors Field. That accounted for at least half of Gray’s starts every season.
Jon Gray can become the Texas Rangers’ next successful pitching reclamation project
That problem mitigates itself with his insertion into spacious Globe Life Field, where the ball doesn’t fly as easily.
Make no mistake, Gray will have to prove himself with the Texas Rangers, but he looks to be in a favorable position to do so.
One need not go back much further than Kyle Gibson, Lance Lynn and Mike Minor to realize the effect that the Texas Rangers can have on veteran hurlers looking to turn their career fortunes around at age 30 or older. All three of those pitchers arrived in Arlington appearing to be on the backside of their respective careers.
And all three would turn it around.
Gibson was the most recent success story, posting a 2.87 ERA in 19 starts with the Rangers in 2021. He was an All-Star before being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies with Ian Kennedy and Hans Crouse for Spencer Howard and two pitching prospects. That’s the same Kyle Gibson with a career 4.45 ERA we’re talking about.
Lance Lynn was traded to the Chicago White Sox last off-season for Dane Dunning and Avery Weems after blossoming in Texas for three years. He was a Cy Young candidate with the South Siders in 2021. Lynn had been successful with St. Louis, but struggled in stops with the Yankees and Twins before coming to Texas in 2018.
And Mike Minor, a former top prospect with Atlanta who suffered arm issues, was also rejuvenated with the Rangers, being traded to the A’s in 2020 for rising star Dustin Harris.
So what is all of this to say? That Jon Gray can be the next success story on this list.
Gray just turned 30 this year, he’s coming off a subpar season by most metrics and he’s about to get a change of scenery pitching for the Texas Rangers. If recent history is any indicator, Jon Gray could very well wind up being the best coup of them all.