How Rangers can bolster rotation without adding Jordan Montgomery & avoid luxury tax

This could work, people!
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Michael Lorenzen
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Michael Lorenzen / Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Rangers starting rotation is (kind of) set for the 2024 season. But are Rangers fans ready to roll into the upcoming season with Andrew Heaney as the No. 3 starting pitcher? No disrespect to Heaney, but the pitcher who was on the mound for the Rangers in 2023 was not the same one who was toeing the rubber for the Los Angeles Dodgers the year before.

But it doesn't stop there. After the Rangers' likely Opening Day starter Nathan Eovaldi, it's a quartet of Heaney, Dane Dunning, Jon Gray, and Cody Bradford. Among those four, only Dunning had a sub-4.00 ERA last season. While there's optimism surrounding some the Rangers top prospects like Kumar Rocker and Brock Porter, those two are not yet ready for The Show.

The Rangers rotation could consist of Eovaldi, Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, and Tyler Mahle by August, but that's assuming all three starters return from the IL and have zero setbacks along the way. Instead of placing all their eggs (some of which are cracked) into one basket, perhaps the Rangers should target free agent starter Michael Lorenzen.

How Rangers can bolster rotation with Michael Lorenzen instead of Jordan Montgomery

The Rangers have all but closed the door on a reunion with Jordan Montgomery. Still a free agent, Montgomery has drawn interest from teams like the Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox. Texas' lack of revenue from their current TV deal has put a stop to the Rangers pursuit of last year's playoff hero. But the Rangers could still add to their rotation with a pitcher who was, at times, just as good as Montgomery.

Baseball fans find it odd that both Montgomery and reigning NL Cy Young Award-winner Blake Snell are still on the open market. Contract negotiations have hit a standstill for both lefties. But just as perplexing is the fact that Lorenzen remains unsigned as well.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required) recently revealed why Lorenzen is still on the board. Lorenzen is seeking a two-year contract. After back-to-back winters of accepting one-year deals, the right-hander seems set on securing a multi-year pact this offseason.

The Rangers could sign Michael Lorenzen and stay under the luxury tax threshold

While Montgomery is looking to secure a multi-year deal worth upwards of $150 million and would likely see his average annual value (AAV) reach upwards of $25 million, Lorenzen won't command that type of contract.

Lorenzen signed prior to 2022 for just $7 million, and his deal with the Detroit Tigers in 2023 was worth just $8.5 million. There's a good chance the Rangers could secure Lorenzen's services with a two-year, $20 million deal. An AAV of $10 million would be a jump in pay from last season and give the right-hander the type of security he's looking for.

According to FanGraphs, the Rangers estimated payroll is sitting at $220 million. Adding $10 million to that number would still keep Texas under the $237 million Competitive Balance Tax threshold. It's a win-win for both the Rangers and Lorenzen.

The 32-year-old also has plenty of experience as a reliever, so if the Rangers are fortunate enough to see Scherzer, deGrom, and Mahle return to the rotation, Texas can always move Lorenzen into the bullpen or to a swingman-type role.

The Rangers will have no problem scoring runs in 2024, but keeping the other team off the scoreboard could prove to be difficult. Signing Lorenzen would add some insurance to a talented, yet shaky, pitching staff.

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