The biggest story in baseball on Friday was not the Phillies winning NLCS Game 3 against the Padres 4-2. The biggest story was Bruce Bochy being hired by the Texas Rangers. He rejoins the league after a three-year absence from the game.
He has returned to try and help the Rangers get back on track and help them compete in an increasingly difficult AL West. The question may be asked with Bruce Bochy being hired, what’s next? They have several things they need to address this month before we reach the official start to the off-season.
The first item on the agenda was the press conference to announce Bochy. The press conference was Monday and Bruce Bochy and his family were there with Chris Young introducing him and Ray Davis alongside as well. Other than a loud rain storm, it was a great event that allowed Bochy to introduce himself and explain why he decided to come back and why Texas. He was asked questions concerning his coaching staff, his thoughts on the role of a manager in 2022, and his desire to really get to know his players. Several players were in attendance including Marcus Semien.
What’s next for the Texas Rangers after the Bruce Bochy hiring?
Here is what’s next for the team: The Rangers still need get extensions done for Martin Perez and Matt Moore. The Rangers chose to hold onto both of these players at the deadline this season. Chris Young said this at the presser following the trade deadline:
"Most importantly, we have an exclusive opportunity to negotiate an extension, should that be an avenue that we can find some common ground (on) with both players"
That is the justification Chris Young and Jon Daniels used at the time when explaining why they were not traded. It is now late October, the World Series starts in a few days and after that is when free agents are free to talk contract with other teams. It would reason that the Rangers have about 2. 5 weeks or less to get contracts done with both Perez and Moore.
If they fail to get them signed it is widely expected that Perez would be given the qualifying offer (QO) of 19.65 million. It is unknown whether Perez would accept that or not. Matt Moore would then be allowed to test free agency. Hopefully it doesn’t reach that point, but if it does and Perez rejects the QO, the Rangers will get a 2023 draft pick from the team that signs him.
The next item of business will be Bochy assembling his staff. He will hire his own pitching coaches, as Doug Mathis and Brendan Sagara were both released earlier this month. All of the other coaches including Tony Beasley were invited back and their potential roles will be determined by Bruce Bochy.
After that, we’ll find out if the Rangers will hire someone to replace Jon Daniels. Prior to Daniels’ firing he was the President of Baseball Operations and Chris Young was the GM. Since the firing Chris Young has the title of Executive Vice President and General Manager. The question has not been answered yet on whether Young will continue to operate both roles going forward, if they will promote from within, or hire someone from the outside to assume that role.
Hiring Bochy as manager makes filling both positions less of a need at this time. Bochy’s experience managing will help Chris Young in the talent evaluation and roster construction aspects of the job. I would expect this decision to be put aside till maybe closer to Spring Training.
Then, before free agency starts, they have to decide on the options for Kole Calhoun and Jose Leclerc. They have a 5.5 million team option for Calhoun for 2023. I would assume that is not picked up. He had a great month of May. He hit .326 with seven home runs, 19 RBI’s, and a 1.013 OPS. He failed to hit over .200 in every other month and hit a combined 5 home runs in every other month.
I think the Rangers will be on the lookout for another outfielder this off-season. Names to be on the lookout for: Mitch Haniger, Joc Pederson, Joey Gallo, and Andrew Benintendi.
Jose Leclerc came back in 2022 after missing most of 2020 and all of 2021 with a right shoulder injury. He has a team option for 6 million. He was inconsistent, but did show flashes of the Leclerc from 2018-2019. Tony Beasley leaned on him at the end of the season as one of the closers. He did have seven saves, but also walked 21 batters in 47 innings. I would not be surprised either way on this one. I lean toward them picking it up so that they can see if he will be better in 2023 having a normal off-season. The velocity was there, the stuff was there, but the control was not always there.
Starting 5 days after the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies World Series, free agency gets started. Expect the Texas Rangers to be tied to every big name pitching free agent and nearly every big pitching trade target going forward. The free agents will include names like Jacob deGrom, Carlos Rodon, and Clayton Kershaw. The trade targets will include Pablo Lopez, Corbin Burnes, and others that are not known to be available at this time.
Bochy being hired is the first and maybe most important move of the off-season, but it is certainly far from the last and is not the only move the Rangers will make this month. So when you ask what’s next realize that it will be a very busy next two to three weeks as this team revs up for what is likely one of the most important off-season in the Rangers’ history. Ray Davis has laid down the expectations for next season and that is winning. They have to get from 68 wins this season to 85+ wins next season if they are to be truly in playoff contention.
It is a steep hill to climb for the Texas Rangers, but one that is likely made easier by the hire of Bruce Bochy.