A new year, a new decade and a new stadium all come for the Rangers in 2020. It figures to be one of the most important years for the franchise in a long time both on and off the field. The development of players at both the major and minor league levels will be vital to pushing this team back towards playoff baseball in Arlington but there are plenty of other interesting things to ponder as well.
Is this rotation going to be as good as it looks like it can be?
A quintet of Mike Minor, Lance Lynn, Corey Kluber, Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles is the best rotation the Rangers have had in years on paper. Unfortunately there are very valid questions surrounding each and every one of them heading into 2020.
Gibson and Lyles each had good halves of their 2019 season. Kyle Gibson was quite strong in the first half of 2019 for the Minnesota Twins before injuries and illness took down his August and September. For Lyles, a move to the Brewers at the trade deadline was the only thing that made his 2019 even look respectable when glancing over his season totals.
Minor and Lynn both had outstanding 2019 seasons but with both being at age 32, it should be no guarantee that they’re both ready to go right back to healthy seasons with 30+ above average starts.
Kluber, a two-time Cy Young winner, is coming off a 2019 campaign where he made just seven starts due to injury. Really just one season removed from being an All Star and one of the best pitchers in the game, it will be fascinating to see what version of Kluber the Rangers get in 2020. He could be the player that swings the fate of their season the most.
How much longer is Elvis Andrus the everyday shortstop?
For long time Rangers fans, most would want the answer to this question to be “as long as he’d like.” Unfortunately, the results oriented business of professional sports makes this a little more difficult than that.
At age 32, the lovable shortstop hasn’t quite been able to replicate the improvement he showed in 2016-2017 during an injury riddled 2018 and an underwhelming 2019 season. Locked in for three more seasons after passing on opting out this winter, the Rangers might be faced with some difficult decisions in the coming year or two if Andrus isn’t able to become a more complete hitter than the .706 OPS he offered while hitting in the top half of the lineup day in and day out in 2019.
Is the team’s MVP currently on their roster or elsewhere?
It seems like any of the trio of Kris Bryant, Nolan Arenado or Josh Donaldson are very much available for the Rangers to go out and acquire to fill the hole they have at third base. While Bryant and Arenado would come via trade, Donaldson is just waiting for the right deal to come along in free agency.
Adding any of these three right-handed bats to the middle of the Texas lineup would instantly add anywhere from 4-8 wins to the team this season based off of their prior performances and the underwhelming output Texas got from third base in 2019.
One would think this question is answered before spring training gets underway in February, but Texas’ pursuit of Bryant or Arenado could spill into the season as Chicago and Colorado would be smart to turn over every potential stone when exploring any deals for their superstar players.
Greg & @KMillar15 have a New Year's Resolution for the Rangers…
Give up the house to acquire Nolan Arenado 💪 pic.twitter.com/llRaR0Rr1P
— Intentional Talk (@IntentionalTalk) December 28, 2019
How soon does the new stadium begin to provide ownership financial fuel to spend like the top clubs in baseball?
I would think Globe Life Field is going to be close to sold out for every home game in April and May. Every casual sports fan in DFW is going to want to at least check it out one time. Getting them to come back? That will be the major question. The team’s performance will have a lot to do with that as Texas has done pretty well with attendance the last ten-plus years when the team is sporting a winning record, but it’s also a sad fact that the average DFW sports fan is unaware of how the Rangers are doing night in and night out over the course of a 162 game season.
Hopefully Globe Life Field is a venue that hosts an exciting team in 2020 and gets fans to keep coming over and over because, unfortunately, the Rangers ownership group will look for any excuse to not hand out massive contracts following the investments in the likes of Shin-Soo Choo and the Prince Fielder trade didn’t yield the results they expected. If the team gets off to the strong first half start it did last season, I would hope attendance stays strong throughout a finally air conditioned summer slate of games and this prompts Jon Daniels to have a valid case when going to ownership to push for a high price acquisition at the trade deadline in July.
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