What the Texas Rangers Bring to the Table
The Texas Rangers are 41-49 as I write this post with the All-Star game on in the background. Liam Hendricks is goofy. And I am sad that Julio Rodriguez has been summoned as the next Certified Rangers Punisher, but at least he’s cheery.
Those 41-49 Rangers probably aren’t making the playoffs this year. There were multiple… shoot, a plethora of opportunities to hit .500 and make a push this year. Texas failed and cooled themselves off at nearly every turn. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster of a year, but they couldn’t be in a better spot to make a move like this when it comes to organizational direction. Soto or no Soto (say that five times fast), the Rangers do not need to throw the kitchen sink with the intention of making a playoff run this fall. The team is not ready yet; they lack three, arguably four reliable rotation pieces for the foreseeable future, they are not fully healthy, and two of their biggest offensive producers early on in Kole Calhoun and Adolis Garcia have become non factors at the plate in July.
What Texas does have is a flurry of left-handed bats in their lineup, including scorching shortstop and permanent fixture of new-era Texas baseball, Corey Seager – such a flurry, in fact, that the team ranks fourth in the Majors in left-handed at-bats. Texas slugs phenomenally well through their lefty hitters, leading the American League in hits, home runs, and runs batted in from that side of the plate. They also rank third in the A.L. in left-handed walks drawn. Soto can only bolster these numbers with his production in the box.
The Rangers also have a glaring need to upgrade at the corner outfield spot. The middle infield is set in stone. Nathaniel Lowe, despite some pitiful defensive numbers, has the bat to hold it down at first for a while. One of Jung/Smith/Duran will corner him opposite. Jonah Heim has emerged as one of the best catchers in baseball. Leody Taveras, brimming with confidence and finally ready to serve at the MLB level, should be your everyday centerfielder going forward. This leaves the corner spots to Adolis Garcia and a rotation of Kole Calhoun and Brad Miller, the latter of whom is having a career-low year at the plate by disastrous measurements. Calhoun turns 35 in October, but he’s shown us some stellar highlights with his glove this year.
I have to imagine a Soto trade inevitably involves moving Garcia, because if he stays, Soto is your guy in right. This requires Adolis to make his second positional change in the outfield in two years.
Just like with Semien and Seager, a Soto acquisition lets the Rangers have long-term stability at one specific position, something they have severely lacked in recent years. If Soto chooses that he would rather commit to making it work out with the team he’s known his entire career so far, that’s a completely fair sentiment, but with the Nationals eating some nasty contracts right now in Steven Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, and many pieces of the championship winning team having already departed, it may be a minute before he gets to provide active value to a team, other than simply showing up, being great, and losing at the behest of his teammates and organization. The Rangers are trending upwards. The Nationals are trending downwards. Juan Soto is a Scott Boras client. Scott Boras and the Rangers are two peas in a pod. Money, money, money.
Lastly, if the Rangers do execute a trade for Soto, they’ll be the ones to extend him, and though I am no insider, I would find it outrageous if any team other than Washington would offer him a contract anywhere near 14-15 years. You never know in this day and age of players negotiating salaries higher than the GDP’s of small countries, especially for a Boras client, but the Rangers could probably work their way down to somewhere around 30+ million a year for 10-12 years.
Soto regressing into an albatross would be a downfall of historic proportions. There is no gamble in a contract like that for a player of his caliber, especially if you have set your team up to compete for championships within the next five years. This is a wonderful situation for the Rangers to be in.