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Why There’s Difficulty Bringing in a Free Agent Starter for the Texas Rangers

Why There’s Difficulty Bringing in a Free Agent Starter for the Texas Rangers

We’ve reached 2024 and are approaching the first milestone of baseball this year: pitchers and catchers reporting. The Rangers’ winter, while short, has also been quiet regarding acquisitions. The club acquired a couple of veteran relievers while losing two backstop icons and a veteran starter to free agency. When you look at the Texas’ current roster, a couple of things stand out, but a question that arises is the starting pitching.

If the season started today, the Texas Rangers rotation would look as follows: Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Gray, Dane Dunning, Andrew Heaney, and a mystery pitcher. The Rangers don’t have a fifth starter, or an established fifth starter, currently in the mix. The club can go a couple of ways by searching through free agency or looking within the organization and the farm system to see if someone stands out in Spring Training.

A name in free agency that keeps popping up is Postseason staple Jordan Montgomery. Early in winter, it appeared Montgomery and the Rangers’ reunion was unlikely; however, as the offseason moves along, more reports indicate that the Rangers are inching closer towards that get-together with Montgomery, or it appears it’s much closer than predicted 30 days ago. Of course, the Rangers could go in different directions (Brandon Woodruff, Alex Wood, Marcus Stroman, and others), but grabbing a free-agent starter or a higher-class starter could be more challenging than you would think.

If all goes well, the Texas Rangers starting staff will receive a massive upgrade midway through the season. Jacob deGrom should return from Tommy John surgery, as well as Max Scherzer, who underwent surgery to treat a herniated disc in mid-December. That could be why General Manager Chris Young isn’t as aggressive this winter as previous offseasons. The hope by August is that the Rangers beef-up rotation will include deGrom, Scherzer, Eovaldi, Gray, and Dunning (or maybe the Rangers grab someone at a more reduced price at the trade deadline).

On the other side, if you’re a transitional starter (pitchers that generally move from one team to another on one-year deals), the Rangers may be a team that those guys will avoid. The key for another player is to play and know they have a spot in the rotation, but in joining the Rangers, there’s a good chance that a transitional starter won’t stay on the club come August or get moved to the bullpen. It’s not an ideal scenario.

I’d like to see the Rangers dip into that farm system and let Spring Training dictate that fifth spot. As we get closer to pitchers and catchers reporting, the Rangers will likely sign a veteran or two on a one-year or minor league deal. But they’ll compete with guys like Owen White, Cole Winn, Jake Latz, and possibly Cody Bradford.

Last season, the Rangers ranked seventh in starting pitching (3.96 ERA) and throwing the eighth most innings in MLB (872). It’s a vast change from 2022, when the club was sixth-worst in MLB (4.63) and threw the seventh-fewest innings (793.1). With many offensive juggernauts returning, a 100-inning, 4.00 ERA, durable starter could be sufficient for Texas to enter the 2024 season. Of course, assuming everyone stays healthy for seven months is ludicrous, especially after losing a month of offseason work, for good reason. The Texas Rangers are in a decent spot to start January but look for further moves in the next 45 days. However, I wouldn’t suspect a starter splash outside of Jordan Montgomery this offseason.

As Chris Young loves to say, “You can never have enough starting pitching.”

Credentialed Media Staff Writer covering the Texas Rangers for Dallas Sports Fanatic | 2014 University of North Texas graduate with a Bachelor's in Radio, Television, and Film. I talk about things. Find me on the tweeter @aplinckTX

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