If you take the temperature of the average Rangers fan on their feelings of how they feel about the 2018 team, most would turn out lukewarm at best. A lot of it stems from the team’s cautious, low-risk approach to this offseason. With few exceptions, this was really the approach throughout all of baseball. Until the last week or two, most of the top talent on the free agent class hadn’t found a home for 2018.
With the Rangers finishing with a disappointing 78-84 record in 2017, the team obviously needed to upgrade several places on their roster if they had serious aspirations of being a major threat this season. Instead, the front office and ownership opted to go for low-cost, low-risk, limited upside options to bolster their starting rotation that struggled to find consistency all throughout last season.
Many have been critical of Jon Daniels and team ownership for the quiet approach this offseason. Time will tell if they made some smart decisions not dishing out major money to the likes of Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta, but it could take years for anyone to know. A few of us at Dallas Sports Fanatic got together to voice our opinions about a few Rangers offseason topics:
What would you grade the Rangers offseason and why?
Dylan Duell (@DylanDuell): B. While it wasn’t the sexiest or most headline-grabbing type of winter, I completely understand the approach the Rangers took this offseason. This team was one year removed from a 95 win season and didn’t make too many changes the previous winter. Texas had a lot of players underachieve in 2017 plus Adrian Beltre played in only 94 games. If Cole Hamels pitched like everyone knows he is capable of and Rougned Odor could hit a bit closer to .250 instead of .200, this team could be a lot closer to 90 wins than the 70 something that a lot of pessimistic fans and media members are predicting.
The Rangers are relying more on young talent than most people realize with the likes of Odor, Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara and Delino DeShields accounting for a portion of their lineup. Trusting in these players to develop and not overpaying for questionable front of the rotation options was an approach I can agree with. Even though I was constantly checking Twitter all winter waiting for that alert that the team had made a big splash.
Darien Clark (@DarienClark5): B-. The Rangers are a club that makes big moves whether it’s mid-season with the trade deadline or during the offseason with free agents. Jon Daniels is no stranger to pursuing a ‘big fish’. Daniels did mention at Rangers FanFest, back in January, that the team “does not plan to be a big player” during the remainder of the offseason. Thanks for that, JD. With that said, the acquisitions made over the offseason were good for the status that the club is currently in: retooling and rebuilding. The majority of the contracts dealt are short-termed (with Mike Minor’s three-year deal being the longest) and in favor of the team moving forward. Sure, most of us fans would have liked better acquisitions at the starting pitcher role, but ultimately it leaves a lot of optimism this year. This club could have anywhere between 50-90 wins this year, but that’s a story for another day.
Evan Sully (@RealEvanSully): C+. After a fairly inconsistent season that featured a streaky starting pitching rotation, GM Jon Daniels made some moves to fix that flaw. Additions to the pitching rotation included veteran pitchers Mike Minor, Doug Fister, and Matt Moore. However, with their median age pushing 31, it doesn’t help the Rangers much in terms of adding overly talented and accomplished pitchers outside of Tim Lincecum. The Rangers missed out on top free agent pitchers in Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, and either of those two players could have brought some much needed firepower to the team. In terms of offense, the Rangers didn’t do much to add depth and are looking to rely on developing some of their younger guys such as Nomar Mazara, Joey Gallo, and Delino DeShields, which could come at a huge gamble if those three don’t perform well in the batter’s box.
What seemingly realistic move would you have liked to see the Rangers make this winter?
Trading for Clayton Kershaw or Bryce Harper wasn’t an option here..
Dylan: Considering the man is still unemployed, I would’ve loved to have seen the Rangers give a two or three year deal to Alex Cobb. I’m understanding of the team’s fear of giving up long-term contracts after the seven year contract they gave to Shin-Soo Choo. Not a bad player, but come on! It seems like the market could have dictated Cobb needing to take a short term deal for slightly less than what he would’ve been looking for annually in a longer deal.
As we’ve mentioned before, the starting rotation definitely seems to be this team’s weakness heading into this season. Alex Cobb could’ve immediately vaulted to the number two spot in the rotation since so many question marks surround everyone besides Cole Hamels. With Lance Lynn signing with the Twins for just one year and $12 million, it definitely wouldn’t have broken the bank to sign Alex Cobb.
Darien: I personally would have loved seeing the Rangers getting a certified solid number 1 or number 2 starting pitcher that could compete with Cole Hamels, assuming he will be the ace. I’m not saying we spend our entire bank on one guy, but there were options that could have made this happen rather than acquiring our “Big Sexy Freak show” (Tim Lincecum and Bartolo Colon), as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, so kindly put it. Having a solidified starting rotation puts the bullpen in a better spot to succeed, which then puts less pressure on our offense as a whole. Lance Lynn received a one-year, $12 million deal with the Minnesota Twins and Alex Cobb is still floating waiting to put pen to paper. The Rangers could have inked Lynn to the same deal he received, but potentially even a two-year $24 million deal, simply because that’s nearly what the team gave Matt Moore. Lynn is a significant upgrade from Moore and, in my opinion, could have battled with Hamels for the ace spot. All in all, I am not knocking the Ranger’s offseason at all, I like the position they are in moving forward. I’m simply comparing the decisions with the rest of how the offseason fell into place.
Evan: I would’ve liked to see the Rangers aggressively pursue Jake Arrieta. The 2016 World Series champion and 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner could have been placed at the top of the starting pitching rotation alongside Cole Hamels and most importantly could have potentially picked up many wins for a Rangers team that only won 78 games last season.
Texas will enter this season with question marks surrounding several parts of their roster. While they didn’t do too much to quiet those concerns this winter, they still kept most of their major contributors and showed faith that they could continue to develop in 2018.
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