Hot Stove season has officially begun with the calendar reading November. The first part of the month should be slow for the Rangers and the rest of Major League Baseball, but there are still some interesting things of note to keep up with this week:
Strasburg opts out
Fresh off winning the World Series MVP, Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg notified the team Sunday he would be opting out of the final four years and $100 million he had remaining on his deal to become a free agent.
The 31-year-old has had some injury struggles throughout his big league career with just three seasons of 30 starts or more in 10 big league campaigns with the Nationals. He timed a healthy year correctly in 2019 as he appeared in 39 games (38 were starts) and came up with two huge wins in the 2019 World Series. Now after making $38.3 million in 2019, Strasburg will look to co-headline a free agent pitching class with World Series opponent Gerrit Cole from the Astros.
I wouldn’t think the Rangers would be one of the main suitors for a 31-year-old Strasburg who has battled injuries and is coming off the biggest workload of his career. If they do spend big on starting pitching, I’d look at 29-year-old Cole or Zack Wheeler. With Mike Minor and Lance Lynn already in the rotation both at age 32 at the start of next season, it doesn’t really make a ton of sense for the Rangers, a team still not sure of how soon they will be a contender, to spend HUGE money on a starter beginning their new deal past the age of 31.
There will be major money to be spent this winter on starting pitching. It will be very interesting to see if Texas is a part of it.
A flurry of roster moves for the Rangers
Every team begins their offseason with several roster moves in the days following the conclusion of the World Series. Saturday was a big day for the Rangers. To summarize:
- They declined the 2020 team option on relief pitcher Shawn Kelley
- Hunter Pence, Edinson Volquez and Logan Forsythe became free agents
- They trade a minor leaguer for catcher Welington Castillo and $250K of international cap space from the Chicago White Sox.
Most saw the move for Castillo, a veteran who appeared in 72 games for the Sox last season, and thought, “Well they do need help at catcher.”
Right you are, but Castillo is not going to be that help. Texas did not pick up the $8 million option, they instead opted to buy him out for $500K. So essentially they traded a minor leaguer and $500K for an additional $250K of international cap space. It’s a bit of a head scratcher, but the Rangers have been very active in signing young international players over the years and each team only has so much money they’re allowed to spend that way.
Jose Trevino, Jeff Mathis and Tim Federowicz remain as the catchers on Texas’ 40-man roster. Most in the know seem to think they’ll be content with continuing to develop Trevino in 2020 with Mathis taking the lesser role he took in the final few months of 2019. Not exactly an exciting development, but if the team looks to spend money at other positions, it is an understandable way of handling catching in 2020.
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