The Winter Meetings are finished and the Rangers made one signing, right-handed reliever Kirby Yates. Yates spent the last two seasons with the Atlanta Braves after missing the 2021 season due to Tommy John Surgery. The signing adds veteran depth and a reliever who recorded 41 saves in 2019 (led all of MLB) with the San Diego Padres. That said, many Rangers elected free agency right after their World Series title, but who should Texas target to come back? Here are the free agents who helped the Rangers win their first World Series in 2023.
If I were to ask you who was the starting pitcher MVP this postseason, I’d suspect the results would be close between Nathan Eovaldi and Jordan Montgomery. However, it would be easy to finalize the results between the two. Montgomery’s postseason was one for the books, especially his performance in the ALCS against the Houston Astros. Rumors are floating that the Rangers may not go after Jordan because of financial reasons, but at the moment, the Rangers have one left-hander on their active roster who would be in the rotation (Nathan Eovaldi, Max Scherzer, Jon Gray, Dane Dunning, and Andrew Heaney (L)).
It’s a decent rotation now, but that’s assuming all is good to go with Scherzer, in addition to injury history for guys like Eovaldi and Gray. The Rangers may go out and try to find a left-handed starter at a cheaper price, especially if the asking price for Montgomery is hefty. If it was me, extend an offer, not a bank-breaking one, and if it’s too low for the other side, move on.
GOT HIM 🔥
Jordan Montgomery gets out of the bases loaded jam!
📺: FOX pic.twitter.com/2liHYzBpL0
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 16, 2023
I would imagine it’s been somewhat of a frustrating two seasons for Mitch Garver. 2023’s result was good, and Garver became a force early in the Postseason. However, staying on the field and healthy became an issue for Mitch. In his two seasons with the Rangers, Garver played in 141 games at a similar clip to the 309 games he played with the Minnesota Twins during his first five MLB seasons. Garver is a power force veteran, and while Jonah Heim is the primary catcher, Mitch could serve as a good backup catcher to the primary designated hitter (especially with Shohei Ohtani off the board).
The Rangers resigning Garver will depend on what they want to do with Sam Huff. Huff is playing in the Dominican Winter League for Leones del Escogido. This upcoming spring training and the start of the year are crucial for Huff if the Rangers want to hang on to him or use him as a trade piece. It’s a cheaper investment to go with Heim and Huff as your catching duo, along with Sam’s power. However, I think the Rangers will extend with an offer and continue negotiating with Garver. Ultimately, I believe Texas will sign him in the end, and he will return in a Texas uniform.
GRAND SLAM MITCH GARVER 💥
RANGERS LEAD 9-2!!
📺: FS1 pic.twitter.com/CxMiAJGTXy
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 8, 2023
The Aroldis Chapman experience was… intriguing, to say the least. Texas acquired Chapman at the end of June, the best cash-in investment for the Rangers. Then, the downsides hit, and ultimately, Aroldis wasn’t the reliable arm that Bruce Bochy and the Rangers hoped for. So what do the Rangers do with Chapman? There isn’t an arm that Texas has or can get that mimics the movement and velocity Aroldis Chapman possesses, but if you can’t throw strikes or locate, all of that goes out the window. The improvement of Josh Sborz and, hopefully Jonathan Hernandez adds that fire in the bullpen. Chapman is too unreliable to go too late, so I don’t think the Rangers will take a chance on him (unless he’s still available close to Spring Training).
Looking back at some great moments of 2023, Travis Jankowski became a part of those. The home-run robbery catch of Mike Ford in early June to almost hitting a home run in his first at-bat of the 2023 postseason in Houston. Jankowski is part of the heart and soul in the Rangers clubhouse, and he’s fast, too. When you calculate Sprint Speed this season, only two guys averaged a faster home-to-first-rate: Bubba Thompson (who’s in Cincinnati now) and Evan Carter. The difference is that Carter is an everyday player (I would assume); therefore, late in games, you won’t have the luxury of inserting him to pinch run. Jankowski, meanwhile, is that speed threat Bochy can use, and he can play Travis at any of the three outfield positions if needed.
Backup utility players are usually the last to sign. Therefore, it wouldn’t shock me if another team quickly jumps to Jankowksi, but if he remains available in late January-February, I think Chris Young will grab him for a one-year deal.
Travis Jankowski with a ridiculous catch to rob Mike Ford of a homer!
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) June 4, 2023
Brett Martin didn’t pitch in 2023 due to shoulder surgery he had in January of this year. That said, the Rangers need some left-handers in their bullpen. If you take Heaney out of the mix, Texas has three left-handers on their current roster (Brock Burke, Cody Bradford, and Antoine Kelly). I don’t suspect Kelly makes the Opening Day roster, and Cody Bradford hasn’t had too much big-league reliever experience (although he was outstanding in his five postseason relief appearances).
You could get Martin at a decent price, especially coming off surgery, so that it won’t break the bank comparable to the cost of Chapman. While all of this favors Brett is returning, I don’t believe the Rangers will push the envelope. I think Texas will make a few left-handed signings but go younger and possibly make minor-league signings.
For this one reason, the World Series Champion had Will Smith on their roster in the last three years. Go for it, tempt the fate of the baseball gods, and see if the Will Smith luck charm is a thing. Sometimes, you can’t argue fate.
3 years, 3 titles for Will Smith!
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) November 2, 2023
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