Texas Rangers GM Chris Young: Starting pitching will be the “clear top priority” during the 2023 offseason.
There’s no doubt quality starting pitching was one of the Ranger’s biggest downfalls in 2022. The Texas Rangers ranked 22nd out of 30 MLB teams with a cumulative 4.22 ERA. Additionally, Texas’ pitching issued the 4th most walks across the league and placed 24th in WHIP with a 1.34.
The Rangers haven’t had a winning season since 2017 which has led to growing frustration from fans and ownership alike. This is a big reason why Texas Ranger’s owner Ray Davis has given GM Chris Young the green light to increase the payroll for 2023.
Texas only has $80 million guaranteed for 2023, which is over $60 million less than last year. This means management has 60$ million to spend this offseason to match 2022’s payroll, not including any extra money the Rangers could likely spend.
With a star-studded free agency class and money to spend, the Texas Rangers are primed to make another huge splash this offseason. That being said, here are my early predictions for the Ranger’s 2023 Opening Day Rotation:
Predicting the 2023 Texas Rangers Opening Day starting rotation
1. Jacob deGrom – RHP
Sure, this may sound like a pipe dream, but so did signing Corey Seager.
Widely regarded as baseball’s best pitcher, it was recently announced that Degrom chose to opt out of his $30.5 million contract for 2023. deGrom, a two-time Cy Young, boasts a career 2.52 ERA and 155 ERA+ in the 9 seasons he’s been in the pros and has consistently shown why he’s a perennial Cy Young contender. The main concern teams have is deGrom can be considered “injury-prone” by some, but that didn’t stop the Rangers from going after Corey Seager.
2022 Stats: 3.08 ERA, 126 ERA+, 2.13 FIP, 0.746 WHIP, 64.1 IP
2. Clayton Kershaw – LHP
Dallas native Clayton Kershaw was close to signing with Texas the last offseason but chose to pursue a world series with the highly talented Dodgers. With LA being eliminated in the ALDS, more and more people around the league believe there’s a significant chance he’ll be in a Rangers’ uniform in 2023. Even after 15 seasons, the 34-year-old lefty is still one of MLB’s most dominant forces on the mound. Ultimately, it will be up to Kershaw to decide if he’d rather stay loyal to the Dodgers or come back to his home state of Texas.
2022 Stats: 2.28 ERA, 184 ERA+, 2.57 FIP, 0.942 WHIP, 126.1 IP
3. Martin Perez – LHP
Signed last offseason, Martin Perez was a breath of fresh air for the Rangers in 2022. The lefty had a breakout year, posting the best ERA of his career and making his first All-Star Game. Perez has stated numerous times that he loves playing in Texas and it seems the Rangers have mutual feelings, as both sides are currently in contract negotiations. Even though recent reports say both sides are far apart, I predict Texas and Perez will end up agreeing on a contract of no more than 5 years, as the Rangers have a plethora of pitching prospects set to debut within the next few seasons.
2022 Stats: 2.89 ERA, 136 ERA+, 3.26 FIP, 1.258 WHIP, 196.1 IP
4. Jon Gray – RHP
Gray signed a 4-year $56 million dollar deal with Texas last offseason. In his debut season with the Rangers, the 31-year-old righty battled multiple injuries, while also showing flashes of success. Both of these reasons factored into Jon Gray posting an around-league-average season in 2022. Going into 2023, the Rangers will hope that Gray can capitalize on the flashes of success he showed in 2022, as he still has three years left on his contract.
2022 Stats: 3.96 ERA, 99 ERA+, 3.80 FIP, 1.131 WHIP, 127.1 IP
5. Dane Dunning – RHP
2022 left Ranger fans desiring more consistency from the right-hander, as Dunning posted an awful 6.14 ERA in his last month of the season. This came after Dane tossed a 1-hit, 7-inning shutout against his former club on August 6th. Dunning has never been a pitcher that blows away hitters with velocity, as he mainly relies on his breaking stuff to fool hitters. The 27-year-old righty needs to prove his “old-school” method of pitching can work regularly in the big leagues, or this could very well be his last season as a Texas Ranger.
2022 Stats: 4.46 ERA, 88 ERA+, 4.45 FIP, 1.435 WHIP, 153.1 IP
Some other potential starting pitching options for the Texas Rangers
Carlos Rodon: Posting a league-best 2.25 FIP last season, the San Francisco Giants ace proved his 2021 breakout year wasn’t a fluke. Given his profound success over the past couple of years, it’s no surprise that Rodon recently opted out of his $22.5M player option and elected free agency. Rodon will definitely be one of the most sought-after free agents this offseason which could make it difficult for Texas, but according to recent reports, the Rangers plan to make a “hard push” for the 27-year-old lefty.
2022 Stats: 2.88 ERA, 140 ERA+, 2.25 FIP, 1.028 WHIP, 178 IP
Pablo Lopez: The Miami Marlins are in desperate need of outfield help, which has led to recent rumors of a potential trade for Texas Ranger Adolis Garcia. If the Rangers choose to trade fan-favorite Adolis Garcia, it will have to be for a high-quality starting pitcher like Lopez. The 26-year-old RHP has a solid 3.94 ERA and 106 ERA+ in five seasons in the big leagues. For the right price, Lopez could make for an excellent addition to the Rangers’ rotation as Texas still has promising outfielders such as Evan Carter and Aaron Zavala in their farm system.
2022 Stats: 3.75 ERA, 108 ERA+, 3.71 FIP, 1.167 WHIP, 180 IP