The Texas Rangers have pledged to make a splash in the offseason by acquiring quality pitching and specifically, top tier starting pitching. Like maybe Justin Verlander.
There are many big names that are being thrown around as potential fits for the Rangers, such as free agents Carlos Rodon, Texas native Clayton Kershaw, and even Jacob deGrom (he has a player option, but will enter free agency). Chris Young’s phone is also likely to be busy in the trade market over the next few months, as there are a number of quality arms that could land in Arlington if the right deal is struck.
One name however, that hasn’t really been thrown around much, but I feel like is worth digging into a bit, is the aforementioned Verlander. Yes, the ace of the rival Houston Astros. Could Justin Verlander actually be the new ace of the Texas Rangers?
The short answer is absolutely!
Justin Verlander could be the Texas Rangers’ modern-day Nolan Ryan
It will take some good fortune and a misstep or two by Houston for it to happen. But if it does, what beautiful symmetry, a little over three decades apart, of dominate starting pitchers in their 40’s fleeing Houston to come don the red, white, and blue of the Rangers!
Verlander has a $25MM player option for next season, but barring an unforeseen injury during the World Series, he will test the free agent market. It could be that he simply resigns with the Astros for more money and doesn’t give other teams a chance, but if there is an opportunity, the Rangers need to be ready to pounce.
In the past nine seasons the Rangers have a record of .500 or more, only twice (2015 & 2016). With the hiring of Bruce Bochy, a core group of top performers, a talented farm system, and a fan base that is itching to fill a new stadium for meaningful baseball, the pump is primed for great things in Arlington.
The addition of Justin Verlander would help expedite the positive direction that the organization is heading. Not only would it be great having him anchor the rotation, but it would also be equally as nice to not have him as the ace of the Astros. Granted, Houston has been able to continue to win at a remarkable clip despite losing the likes of Garrit Cole, George Springer, and Carols Correa. But, at some point a team can have only so many top players leave and still remain at the same level.
As the namesake of this very site, Nolan Ryan is a true Texas Ranger legend. When the Houston Astros messed around and didn’t re-sign Nolan, the Rangers were able to sweep in and sign the powerful right-hander in 1989. In the nine seasons prior to Nolan signing, the Rangers had that same aforementioned record of .500 or better only twice.
In 1989 the club needed a face of the organization, and someone that could put the Rangers on the national stage. Nolan did just that, and even more. The 42-year-old came in and brought excitement to the Rangers and helped lead the team to a winning record in four of his five seasons in Arlington.
The Texas Rangers aren’t the laughingstock of MLB that they were before Nolan arrived, but they are looking for someone to come in and transform the history of the organization but securing that first ever World Series title. It will take Houston not offering JV a reasonable enough contract. It will also require CY to pay a premium to get him to sign. But if he can make it happen, what a monumental shift of power within the AL West that it would be.
2022 marked the return of JV to the mound. He had been sidelined since 2020 with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. Many people felt that he would just retire and sail off into the sunset. Boy were they wrong. Toughness and work ethic are yet two more of the traits that JV and Nolan share.
Not only did Verlander come back to pitch this year, but he is likely to win his third AL Cy Young award in the process. His numbers this year were as good or better than ever before, which is remarkable considering how well he has thrown over his now 17-year career. In 28 games (175 innings) this season, JV amassed an 18W-4L record, 1.75 ERA, 185K, only 29 BB, and 0.829 WHIP. Not too shabby for a 39-year-old returning from Tommy John surgery!
Verlander was 10 years old when Nolan Ryan threw his last MLB pitch on September 22, 1993, in Seattle. It isn’t hard to see who JV modeled his game after. Nolan was Verlander’s favorite player when he was growing up.
I can’t think of a better way for Justin Verlander to emulate his childhood idol, than to come finish off his Hall of Fame career in Arlington.