Chris Young's mistake that might cost the Texas Rangers in 2024

With Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, and newly-signed Tyler Mahle on the IL to start the 2024 season, the defending Champions are looking thin in the starting rotation. Hopes of reinforcement in the form of Jordan Montgomery also dwindle with comments from Chris Young today.

Texas Rangers Spring Training
Texas Rangers Spring Training / Bailey Orr/Texas Rangers/GettyImages
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Pitchers and Catchers arrived in Surprise, Arizona to kick off Spring Training for the defending champion Texas Rangers. There has been much drama around the defending champions this off-season. Most expected them to sign Jordan Montgomery long term and go get an elite closer in someone like Josh Hader. Neither thing has come to fruition. Josh Hader is instead an Astro, and after comments made today by General Manager Chris Young, it seems like signing Jordan Montgomery is not a particularly high priority for the front office.

The reasons why it is not ideal for Chris Young to stand pat

Failing to acquire another trusted arm for the starting rotation is not ideal for the Rangers. As the rotation currently stands, they have exactly five starters to choose from, including Cody Bradford who has really only started in spots but mainly come out of the bullpen. The top two in the current rotation are Nathan Eovaldi and Jon Gray, both are great pitchers and have had success for the Rangers when healthy. The problem with relying on them as the top two: Eovaldi has missed time on the IL with injury for five of the last six seasons, and Gray all of the last five.

Dane Dunning was very solid for the Rangers last year in a full-time starter role for most of the year. The Rangers will need to be able to rely on him for consistent quality starts again, particularly in the first half of the season. Andrew Heaney has somewhat of an injury history himself and can be somewhat unpredictable start to start. When on, he has high strikeout numbers, but he can also struggle with control. Cody Bradford is still young, and has room to grow as a starter. He fared better out of the bullpen last year for the most part, but he could step into a similar role as Dunning did last year being able to focus on being a starter.

The rotation is in a fragile spot. There are no immediate reinforcements if there are an injury. They don't have a sixth or seventh guy they can turn to if the rotation struggles early. They have their five. There's certainly some security left to be desired. All indications are that financial security concerns over the long term is a large issue and likely why there hasn't been further reinforcement. Fans have pushed hard for the Rangers to sign Jordan Montgomery all off-season. Maybe the money was/is just not there to make that happen. Maybe they just don't want to spend it.

What should Texas have done this offseason to shore up the rotation?

Tyler Mahle is an intriguing signing, but seeing how the rest of the offseason played out, it would have made more sense for the Rangers to sign someone ready to pitch in the first half. Though admittedly this was not a very deep free agent class in terms of starting pitching with not many other options in Mahle's price range. Pursuing a trade for someone like Corbin Burnes was probably the Rangers best option if they were not looking to spend the kind of money Jordan Montgomery is looking for. Especially considering the haul to get Burnes was somewhat lackluster compared to what most experts were predicting.

Who knows what it would have required for the Rangers to get Burnes, or if there were any discussions about him. But it is conceivable the Rangers could have come up with a package they were alright parting with looking at what the Brewers received. A last minute trade or free agent signing isn't completely out of the question, but Chris Young certainly didn't make it seem likely that will be happening.

For now, it seems the defending champs are going to look to rely on their elite offense that carried the team through much of the 2023 season. The bullpen has probably improved slightly with Kirby Yates and David Robertson, as well as the volume number of arms that will likely produce a few rostered bullpen guys. But the Rangers seem to be sticking to what they have and waiting on internal reinforcements after the All-Star Break on the starting pitching front. It is certainly a bit of a gamble, but one Chris Young seems comfortable with.

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