The Texas Rangers bullpen was their glaring weakness in 2023. They trailed only the Rockies and Guardians in blown saves last season with 33 and had the sixth worst collective bullpen ERA in the league at 4.77. They were also tied for third with the Royals in most home runs given up by a bullpen at 85. The Rangers found a stroke of luck in the postseason as Josh Sborz and Jose Leclerc both hit hot streaks and started performing at their career bests when it mattered most. Bruce Bochy will no doubt look to those two for major contributions out of the bullpen again this year. But the Rangers need more than two reliable arms in relief to get through the regular season and into the postseason again.
As a Rangers fan, it had initially frustrated me that the Rangers had not been more aggressive this off-season in pursuing relievers. It's such a glaring weakness. Chris Young and the front office have also shown themselves to be aggressive in the last few years in building the Rangers talent and improving weaknesses on the roster. They spent half a billion dollars on elite hitting and fielding with Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, and another $275 million between DeGrom, Eovaldi, and Jon Gray to greatly improve the quality of starting pitching. So naturally, I figured they would spend and get a big name reliever or two to greatly improve the outlook of the bullpen going into 2024.
But here we sit on January 24th and two guys many would have loved the Rangers to target in Josh Hader and Robert Stephenson, are division rivals instead of Rangers. Jordan Hicks is being converted back to a starter in San Francisco. The market for big time relievers has run dry. The Rangers missing out on all three of those guys likely has at least something to do with Bally's issues. Their bankruptcy and the unknowns surrounding the Rangers revenue and where games will be broadcast in 2024 have certainly tightened the front office's pockets. But then again, maybe the front office never intended to spend anyways.