With MLB in lockout mode and Christmas Day behind us, the staff at Nolan Writin’ decided some late Christmas gifts were in order for the Texas Rangers, even if the holiday came early for the team in reality this year.
Each writer was asked to wish for three late Christmas gifts once the lockout ends. With the Texas Rangers willing to spend money to improve the team, this list should be more anticipated than in recent years.
Will this spending transfer into more wins? We will find out after Spring Training.
Here’s what we would like to see after the lockout, and happy holidays!
Nolan Writin’ has some wishes for late Texas Rangers Christmas gifts
The three late Christmas gifts I would like as a Texas Rangers fan are:
1. Starting Pitcher Clayton Kershaw. The Rangers probably need two starting pitchers but, I won’t be greedy. Staring with a Kershaw addition will go a long way in solidifying the rotation. If healthy, the Rangers should go all in on a three year guaranteed contract with two club or players options. The future hall of fame candidate would be the ace the Rangers have been missing since their World Series days.
2. Japanese outfielder Seyia Suzuki. Signing the star outfielder would solidify the outfield for years to come. Adding Suzuki to Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, and Adolis Garcia will provide the slugging power of the glory days from the 1990’s and 2000’s playoff teams. Although unproven in MLB, Suzuki is only 27 and will fit right in with the rebuilding Rangers timeline.
3. A reunion with Nelson Cruz. Adding Cruz to the already dangerous Rangers offensive lineup would be brilliant. Cruz is a full-time DH now and one of the best in the business. Cruz would likely cherish a reunion with his former club and sign a one year deal with a club option for a second year. Imagine the batting order with Cruz protecting some of the games best young hitters.
1. Sign Nick Castellanos
I mean who doesn’t like this guy, the guy brings a lot of swagger to any lineup. After having one of the best years of his career hitting .309 at the plate and 34 homers it would be the perfect time to bring him in. We still have some money to sign him after the lockout so why not take a shot at it. He can play in the infield and in the outfield so if Calhoun gets hurt next season, we can cut him and put Castellanos out in the outfield.
2. Trade for Hobie Harris
Time to bring the local Texan back to Texas where he belongs. After learning in the Yankees and the Blue Jays organization, he recently signed with the Milwaukee Brewers this past offseason to a NRI deal. He’s the type of pitcher that can be a perfect closer along with Johnathan Hernandez next season. Last season he was able to get his fastball into the upper 90’s and has other pitches to entice batters to swing and miss. It wouldn’t take much to trade for him, maybe a couple of draft picks or some pitchers that the Rangers know won’t have a future here. If he doesn’t make it with the Brewers, we can sign him once he hits the free agent market.
3. Move on from Willie Calhoun
Willie Calhoun has given it his all when he’s been on the field and at the plate, but it’s time to move on from the outfielder. With all the injuries he’s sustained with the Rangers, he probably won’t return to the type of player that he was in the Dodgers Minor League System. Willie had a .250 batting average with the Texas Rangers last season. If he doesn’t do well at 2022 Spring Training, its time to move on from him and promote an outfielder from Triple A who is ready.
The three late Christmas gifts that I want once the MLB lockout is over are:
1. Starting pitching, obviously, the Texas Rangers aren’t done with free agency and they will look to pick up where they left off. I would love for the Rangers to bring Clayton Kershaw home and sign him to a contract. If the Rangers manage to pull it off and bring the hometown kid back to Texas, then this team will be much more fun to watch this upcoming season. Bringing Kershaw home will do the Rangers good, especially with Jack Leiter getting the chance to learn from a future Hall of Famer.
2. Bring Josh Jung up to the show, obviously, he’s right around the corner, in terms of coming to the big leagues and I’m really intrigued with how his game will transform to the big leagues. He will be one of the players that Rangers fans will keep an eye on and if Jung can make an impact right away, that will be a huge boost to the Rangers’ rebuilding process. Oh! Did I tell you that the Rangers have a opening at third base too.
3. Last but not least, I want the Rangers to continue to improve the offense and it would be great if the Rangers could sign a big bat like a Kyle Schwarber, it might not happen, but something of his caliber because the Rangers suffered tremendously on producing runs this past season, maybe consider at bringing Joey Gallo back to the Rangers, that’s still a possibility. If the Rangers could find a way to bring back Joey Gallo, this roster will be fun to watch. We still love Gallo and miss him tremendously here. There’s gotta be a gift that Santa Claus forgot to give us somewhere!
1. Texas Rangers sign Clayton Kershaw
The rumor mills have run rampant with the connection between the Rangers and the dominant Ace, Kershaw. That’s for good reason too. Though Texas has some young studs on the rise through the minors, a budding player in Dunning (and possibly Hearn) and recently signed Jon Gray, Texas still severely lacks experience. Some will point to the decline of Kershaw as reason to pass but let’s not forget how easy it is to fall from how high of a bar he had set. His numbers through ’21 were still solid and he’ll only be 34. It doesn’t have to be a mammoth contract either. Kershaw would be an invaluable piece for setting the foundation of what could become one of the better rotations in the game.
2. Texas Rangers sign Seiya Suzuki
Yea you might have noticed a common theme with Chris Giles by now. Frankly, that’s because they’re good ideas to help the team compete. The Rangers need an outfielder and top of the market options Nick Castellanos and Michael Conforto are already tied to draft picks. Kyle Schwarber may be an option but he also figures to sign for more than Suzuki. The Rangers haven’t exactly shown to be scared about spending money this offseason but if there is a penny to be saved for possibly a better player, then it becomes a no brainer. There is always a risk when signing a relatively unknown player like Suzuki but his numbers in Japan were outstanding and he has a clean swing that should translate well.
3. Expanded coverage of games
Whether it’s the end to national blackouts, increased national presence or BSSW on more providers, in one way or another I want more baseball. I’d love to see the new Texas Rangers players receive national coverage. Be able to see Josh Jung on whatever outlet I have or watch them on a trip without jumping through hoops. This could be done with the proposed MLB app being developed but it remains to be seen exactly when they’ll be able to pull off.
1. Starting pitching- Aaron Sanchez
Aaron Sanchez is one of those guys that looked incredibly promising early in his career. The 29-year old former first rounder has been bogged down by injuries, but what most people don’t know is that he owns an ERA title and has an All-Star appearance. In 2016, Sanchez won 15 games for Toronto, posting a 3.00 ERA in 192 innings. Not saying that’s the kind of guy Texas is going to get, but man, he’s still young and in the midst of his prime. In 2021, he pitched in 9 games (7 starts) for San Francisco and had a 3.06 ERA. Not bad, but Texas would need him to be healthy. However, a low guarantee-high incentive one year deal with an option should bring him to Texas. He gives the Rangers rotation depth, and at worst, a long reliever. Could the Rangers find lightning in a bottle here or could we see Mike Foltynewicz 2.0?
2. Relief Pitcher- Alex Claudio
A familiar face to Rangers fans, the Claudio deal to the Brewers allowed the Rangers to take Davis Wendzel in the first round in 2019. At the time, Alex Claudio became one of the Rangers primary relievers after struggling with the long ball his first few years in the bigs. Since, he’s bounced around with Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Angels. He hasn’t been nearly as effective since 2017, but any and all left-handed relievers are welcome. He’s not much, but adds some valuable experience, a devastating changeup and a funky arm angle to the Rangers young bullpen.
3. Left Field- Seiya Suzuki, but….
If my wishlist became a reality, I’d love Seiya Suzuki roaming the Rangers outfield. However, with stiff competition in the AL East, I’m having the Texas Rangers shifting another direction. I’m saying the Texas Rangers will acquire Jorge Soler. Oh yeah, you know, World Series MVP Jorge Soler. Soler Power. You get it. Suzuki is far more athletic than Soler, but it’s hard to imagine a better raw power hitter in the Rangers lineup than Jorge Soler on Opening Day. He’s below-average defensively, but that bat plays, whether it’s in left field or spending some days DHing. Believe me, as you all know, left field has been a problem for Texas, and Soler fixes that problem easily. Not to mention, balances out the lineup and adds potential 35-40 homerun power to a fairly weak, but improved Texas lineup.
1. Starting Pitching (Clayton Kershaw, please!)
I applaud the Jon Gray signing, but we all know he’s not an ace. This team still lacks one of those. Luckily, they have a ton of ace-type talent waiting in the minor leagues (Jack Leiter, Owen White, Ricky Vanasco, TK Roby), but let’s remember that the New York Mets once believed they had a super rotation of young studs back in 2015 with Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler (then injured). It’s safe to say that didn’t go according to plan, so the Texas Rangers shouldn’t therefore assume that their stable of prospect arms will all pan out, either.
Clayton Kershaw is the man of the hour here. He’s from Dallas, has raised his family in the area (including a new child) and has always been intrigued with the possibility of returning home. He has nothing left to accomplish with the Dodgers, other than a one-team legacy feat. Kershaw is also still productive at 33 and can bring much to the table just on his credentials alone. To be fair though, Kershaw alone can’t fix this rotation. Other pitchers should be in consideration. But Kershaw and Gray would be one heck of a starting point, along with Dunning, Hearn, Spencer Howard and potentially Glenn Otto or A.J. Alexy.
2. Tap into strong overseas recruiting ties to get Seiya Suzuki
This one just feels natural. Seiya Suzuki belongs on the Texas Rangers.
The Rangers need a legitimate outfielder. With all due respect to Adolis “El Bombi” Garcia and his snub in the 2021 AL Rookie of the Year balloting, I think we need to temper our expectations a bit for him. He had a great year, and all those bat flips and highlight reel defensive plays will always be fun to watch, but is it all sustainable? If you’re banking on Garcia becoming the next Nelson Cruz you might want to tap the brakes. Sure, Cruz was a late bloomer too, but his offensive profile has been much less prone to severe regression (career .277 hitter). El Bombi, on the other hand, strikes out a ton and unlike former teammate Joey Gallo, he doesn’t walk or get on base enough to compensate for those strikeouts.
With Suzuki, the Rangers can tap into their strong ties with NPB and acquire a MVP-caliber outfielder who can step in and contribute meaningfully right away. Corey Seager and Marcus Semien can only do so much of the heavy lifting in this lineup, so take some pressure off them and secure a backup plan in the event Adolis Garcia regresses like we expect by bringing in Seiya Suzuki.
3. Trade for Matt Olson
I must admit, the more I sit on this one, the more I become enamored with it.
This is not meant as a slight to Nathaniel Lowe, who did a solid job manning first base for the Texas Rangers in 2021 after coming over in a trade with the Rays in 2020. But Matt Olson is just plain better. Who’s going to dispute that?
Olson is one of the premier first basemen in the game, and with Corey Seager and Marcus Semien already in the fold, why not give yourself the best infield in baseball, let alone just middle infield? Josh Jung should be the third baseman by this summer, which would only add intrigue to this already powerful group. Imagine an infield of Jung, Seager, Semien and Olson. I can, and it’s beautiful.
All that said, Olson will not come cheap. He’s in the AL West, so that alone will drive up his price in a trade. But the A’s are looking to sell off, so it’s time to strike while the iron is hot. Texas would likely deal Lowe, another MLB player (perhaps IKF or Adolis?) and a couple prospects, if not more. It would undoubtedly be tough to trade these assets to a division rival, but if it means getting an elite player at his position, you swallow the losses and do the deal 10 out of 10 times.