The off-season continues to chug along. All the free agents have filed, a few trades have already been made, qualifying offers have been accepted or rejected, and the non-tender deadline has passed. The winter meetings are getting closer and we have a better understanding of who is available and who is not. Texas Rangers GM Chris Young, though, faces a dilemma as he pursues pitching and other moves to improve the roster.
It is the same dilemma he faced last off-season. How do you lure the top free agents to Texas to play for a team who has not had a winning season since 2016?
Ken Rosenthal posted his latest notes column last Sunday night on The Athletic (subscription required). He had a section about who the Rangers are currently pursuing. He mentioned how the Rangers are one of the teams to visit with Kodai Senga, but he did throw this out as part of his description:
"But Senga, a five-time Japan Series champion and 2020 Olympic gold medalist, wants to join a team with an immediate chance to win, and the Rangers might not qualify."
Chris Young again faces the dilemma of luring free agents to the Texas Rangers after another losing season in 2022
Chris Young has made significant additions to change the perception of this organization. He hired 3-time World Series champion Bruce Bochy. He hired Will Venable away from the Boston Red Sox to be the associate manager and possibly future manager. He brought back Mike Maddux as pitching coach and hired former Kansas City Royals GM Dayton Moore as senior advisor. In player moves, Young traded for Jake Odorizzi and brought back Martin Perez on the qualifying offer.
The problem continues to be though that when free agents look at the current roster they see a 75-78 win team at best and not one that is able to compete for the playoffs.
In November of 2021, Chris Young and Jon Daniels faced the same dilemma coming off a 102-loss season. They spent the first three weeks of the off-season talking about spending money, desiring not one, but two of the premier shortstops on the market, but no one was committing. Everyone doubted their ability to get any free agents to commit to coming to Arlington after such a terrible season. Showing off great facilities, a beautiful ballpark, and telling players of the no state income tax will only go so far.
That was, until Marcus Semien agreed to his seven-year contract at the end of November.
Semien is one of the most respected players in the league. He is part of the players association executive council. He is looked at as one of the best team leaders in all of baseball. So, when he agreed to his 7-year contract it sent a signal to other free agents that it was okay to sign with Texas as well.
Who is going to be the Marcus Semien this year that agrees to a contract and causes a domino effect? If Carlos Rodon agrees to a contract does that then cause Kodai Senga or Justin Verlander to maybe take a second look at Texas. The Rangers are seeking two starters to add to their rotation. To do that though, they first have to convince one pitcher to sign.
The winter meetings are just weeks away, and the Texas Rangers figure to be one of the more active teams. The AL West is not waiting for them. The Houston Astros have a strong team that will likely only get stronger with or without Verlander. The Mariners already have improved their roster with the acquisition of Teoscar Hernandez and with Jerry Dipoto figure to continue to be busy. The Angels have brought in Tyler Anderson, Gio Urshela, and now Hunter Renfroe.
So the question becomes: What will Texas do?
If the season started today, they don’t look to be much better than the fourth place team once again. That is the biggest dilemma facing Chris Young and the front office: How do they get the Rangers from fourth up to first or second in the division? It will take significant investments in signings and trades to get them to the level where the Astros and Mariners reside. Fans are waiting to see what this team does. In the MLB off-season, patience is definitely required as fans refresh twitter and check their notifications to see what Texas is going to do.