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Winter Meetings Preview: What’s next for the Texas Rangers?

The Texas Rangers venture out to San Diego for annual Winter Meetings looking to further improve a roster that they hope to transform into a winner in 2023.
Credit: AP
Texas Rangers baseball team general manager Chris Young responds to questions during a news conference where the team introduced Bruce Bochy as the new manager, in Arlington, Texas, Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

SAN DIEGO, California — The 2022 Winter Meetings have kicked off in San Diego where every team comes to the Manchester Grand Hyatt looking to connect with other teams, meet with the agents of free agents, and discuss deals that will shape their 2023 clubs.

The Texas Rangers join the rest of Major League Baseball with an ace already in their pocket.

While the Rangers have already landed their big free agent fish after signing Jacob deGrom to front their rotation, much of the clamor for their trip to Southern California revolves around continuing to shape a roster that can contend.

The perception going in was perhaps that general manager Chris Young and company were finished building their starting rotation, but no more than 24 hours after deGrom’s deal became public knowledge, the Rangers had put out the word that they would continue pursuing players via free agency and trade, citing gaps to fill.

How much cash does Texas have to play with? In guaranteed contracts, the Rangers have INF Corey Seager, INF Marcus Semien, LHP Martin Perez, RHP Jon Gray, RHP Jose Leclerc, INF Brad Miller and RHP Jake Odorizzi locked up to go along with deGrom’s new deal.

The total of all of those players’ salaries for 2023? Around $141 million. Everybody else on their roster is either pre-arbitration or arbitration eligible. Spotrac estimates that those salaries will add another $26 million, bringing the total, after benefits and minor league salaries to just under $188 million for the season.

The 2023 Luxury Tax threshold sits at $233 million. In other words, Young could technically bring a book of blank checks to San Diego and play at the table with the big boys; given ownership’s recent spending habits, it’s possible that they plan to do just that.

The next question is – where do they focus? Here are a few areas that Texas could address this week:

Starting Pitching

Jacob deGrom, Martin Perez, Jon Gray, Jake Odorizzi, and Dane Dunning (or Glenn Otto or Cole Ragans) currently shape the Rangers’ 2023 rotation – or does it? After inking deGrom to a 5-year, $185 million contract, Texas appeared to have its starting five crossed off the list of things to figure out this winter. But the Rangers, who were also linked to free agent Carlos Rodon, might still pursue the 30-year old lefty (whose birthday happens to coincide with the end of the meetings).

A Rodon deal would cost Texas another draft pick after he rejected the San Francisco Giants’ qualifying offer, but it would appear that by signing deGrom and forfeiting their second-round pick, Texas is already committed to a smaller 2023 Draft class.

Other arms available on the free agency market as of writing are Kodai Senga, Noah Syndergaard, Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Bassitt, Taijuan Walker, Jameson Taillon, Chris Archer, Ross Stripling, and former Rangers Mike Minor and Corey Kluber, among many more.

Depending on how the week turns out, Texas could engage with any of those arms, or attempt to strike a trade, and slot someone in to create some impressive depth in their rotation – and safeguard themselves against the worrying injury history of deGrom and Gray.


On the surface, more arms for the ‘pen is probably where the Rangers should spend most of their remaining dollars acquiring reinforcements. Texas was roughly middle of the pack in most reliever metrics, such as ERA (3.72), WHIP (1.26), HR Allowed (66), and actually hit top ten in other areas, like Batting Average Against (.228) and Strikeouts (620).

One look at the club’s record in one-run games, however, would tell you that all those average-to-above-average stats don’t mean a thing if the other team can still score that final run when it matters most. Texas was a franchise-worst 15-35 in one-run games and while the Rangers’ relievers placed 12th in all of baseball with 265 earned runs, 35 of those came at just the wrong time.

Texas did go through a bit of a roulette of closers, with Joe Barlow handling most of the save opportunities. Jose Leclerc, Matt Moore, and others picked up the other 37 saves. There were 67 total save opportunities for the 2022 club, meaning that a whole 30 opportunities were blown by either middle relievers or closers.

Texas hasn’t had a solid, reliable and consistent closer since the days of Joe Nathan. It might be time to abandon the idea of a closer by committee or situation and look for an anchor for the back end of the bullpen.


It’s not that we didn’t see some palatable things over the summer from Eli White, Josh Smith, Bubba Thompson, Leody Taveras and 2021 All-Star Adolis Garcia, but adding a little more experience and depth to the outfield isn’t going to harm anybody. It might, in fact, do better for the progress of some of those newer names that showed up over the course of 2022.

Texas had one rumor circulating last week that they were in on former Seattle Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger.

Haniger had a pretty powerful 2021, slugging .485 with 39 homers and 100 RBI, but had several injuries that derailed that momentum in 2022. Still, the right-handed bat would be playing in his age-32 season, and could help fill in the black hole that has been left field in Texas while projected to slug well over .400. That production would help add some lineup depth with Seager, Semien, Garcia and 2022 Silver Slugger first baseman Nathaniel Lowe as staples.

The name that everyone in baseball will be watching, though, is former New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge. While his injury history is something to note, Judge bet on himself after turning down a massive contract extension offer from New York at the start of the year and then had himself an MVP season.

To bring the American League’s home run king to Arlington would take perhaps a more shocking turn of events than even the stunning deals for Semien, Seager, and deGrom combined. If Texas wants to land a solid outfielder at a more reasonable price, they could talk to Brandon Nimmo, Andrew Benintendi, or Michael Conforto. If a pure bat is their aim, Michael Brantley is available.

Texas could also look at a reunion with Joey Gallo, where they’ve seen him turn in All-Star seasons in Arlington, or they could take a gamble on his Los Angeles Dodgers teammate Cody Bellinger, a former National League MVP who lost his way over the last couple of seasons but has the talent to rebound and be a difference maker.

Do you think the Rangers will further bolster their roster in San Diego this week? Share your thoughts with Matt on Twitter @FisherWritesMLB.

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