An article has already been written on the key free agency dates, but there are few dates I wanted to reiterate for context. The GM meetings just wrapped up yesterday after beginning on November 7. These meetings were the first of free agency as it opened the day before, on November 6. Then there are the Winter Meetings. The Winter Meetings will occur from December 3 through December 6 in Nashville, TN, and will involve all owners and members of each team's front office and many players and their agents. The Winter Meetings are the height of free agency, and most deals will likely get done during those four days.
That being said, let's first take a look at some of the Rangers' biggest historical signings and when they occurred. Like many teams, the Rangers have signed some of their biggest free agent players during or near the Winter Meetings. Nolan Ryan, after whom this site is so affectionately named, signed on December 7 when he decided to become a Texas Ranger. Rafael Palmeiro was signed similarly on December 4. A few other guys, Will Clark on November 22 and Joe Nathan on November 21, signed very early and in the lead-up to the Winter Meetings.
There are also cases of guys who were highly sought after and took their time to weigh their options. Someone like Alex Rodriguez, who signed with the Rangers well after the Winter Meetings on January 26, 2001. Some guys were a little later in their careers and while still difference makers, weren't commanding long deals anymore and therefore signed on a little later as well. These signings will occur sometimes in late December, but more often into January. The Rangers have historically been big players in this market, signing guys like Adrian Beltre, Shin-Soo Choo, Colby Lewis, and Vladimir Guerrero in that time frame.
When have the Texas Rangers signed their free agents lately?
Those signings were all in a previous era of the Rangers though, what about lately? Lately, the Rangers have been very aggressive early on in free agency. 2021 is a great example of this, when the Rangers signed Marcus Semien, Jon Gray, and Corey Seager in a matter of two days on November 28 and 29. The Rangers also signed Jacob deGrom on December 2 a little over a year later. All four of those signings were made before the Winter Meetings had a chance to take place.
Looking around the rest of the league, there seem to be two distinct paths for big name free agents lately. First, there are still quite a few guys who will make their decision early and strike while the iron is hot. Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole, Trea Turner, and Xander Bogaerts all signed their massive contracts in early December, during or around the Winter Meetings. Then, you have guys like Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. Both drew out their free agency period much longer and didn't make their decisions until late February.
There are a lot of big name free agents on the market this year and it's hard to say exactly when most of them will sign. It's clear some guys are able to decide quickly while others need more time to weigh their options. Without knowing a player, it's hard to say which one they will be. But generally speaking, I would expect to see a flurry of signings come early December. If a major free agent makes it to Christmas without making a decision, you could see them draw the process out for another month or two before they decide where they will be taking their talents.
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