The Texas Rangers are still on the fringes of the Wild Card race, still have a shot of making it to the postseason, are still playing meaningful games...
But with Yu Darvish having been trading, no chance at a division title, and even the Wild Card possibilities being slim, we are starting to think more about the 2018 season. And as part of that, let’s take a look at the payroll situation for the Rangers in 2018, courtesy of the handy dandy Cot’s Contracts site.
The Rangers, believe it or not, have just 7 players under contract for 2018:
Prince Fielder — $24 million ($6 million paid by Detroit, $9 million by insurance)
Cole Hamels — $22.5 million ($2.5 million paid by Philadelphia)
Shin-Soo Choo -- $20 million
Adrian Beltre -- $18 million
Elvis Andrus — $15 million
Robinson Chirinos — $2.35 million
Rougned Odor — $3 million
In addition, the Rangers have team options on Martin Perez, Tony Barnette and Mike Napoli for 2018. Perez is at $6 million with a $2.45 million buyout, and will almost certainly be exercised. Napoli is at $11 million with a $2.5 million buyout, and will almost certainly not be exercised. Barnette is at $4 million with a $250,000 buyout, and I think will likely be exercised.
If we assume Perez and Barnette have their options picked up and Napoli doesn’t, that means we have:
Martin Perez — $6 million
Tony Barnette — $4 million
Mike Napoli — $2.5 million
That puts us at $99.85 million for 2018 for 8 active players, 1 injured/retired player, and 1 player being bought out.
Moving on to arbitration cases...Cots has the following players as arbitration eligible for 2018:
In addition, Delino DeShields and Alex Claudio are potential Super Two arbitration guys, but they probably will each end up about 10-20 days short of qualifying.
The first four players on the list are likely to be back next season. Diekman is making $2.55 million and has missed most of 2018, so I’d guess he’ll be at $3-3.5 million for 2018. Griffin is at $2 million and I’d expect he’ll end up at around $3 million. Kela and Rua are each first year eligible, and I’d peg Kela at around $2 million and Rua at around $1 million.
Let’s round it up and say $10.15 million for those four players, getting us to $110 million committed.
Profar is making $1 million this season and isn’t likely to make much more in arbitration, and is probably getting traded anyway, so we can probably ignore him.
Martinez, Scheppers, Bass and Gosselin are all guys who will like make less than $1 million or be non-tendered. If we combine some combination of them with, say, 15 guys making the league minimum, that’s probably $10 million or so.
Which puts us at $120 million before adding players from outside the organization. The Rangers were at roughly $165 million for 2017, depending on how you do the math. That means there would appear to be roughly $40-50 million available to spend on additions this offseason.
What additions? Well, I think we all know what the needs are.
Carlos Gomez is a free agent, and while Delino DeShields and Drew Robinson may be able to fake it in center for short periods of time, you really need a legitimate center fielder out there, and that’s going to have to come from outside the organization (or from re-signing Gomez).
Other than that, I don’t know that the lineup needs any other additions from outside -- Mike Napoli is leaving, but Joey Gallo can man first base and Robinson/DeShields/Ryan Rua could split time in left field, or Willie Calhoun could play left field, or Gallo can go to left field and Ronald Guzman can play first base...point being, you don’t have to worry about replacing Napoli. All your other starters are back next year. You might want to spend on a backup catcher, but that’s not going to be more than $1-2 million.
Folks have talked about spending money on the bullpen, and the Rangers might add a piece or two there, but I don’t see it an area where there’s going to be a big overhaul with a ton of money being spent. You are likely going into 2018 with Kela, Barnette, Diekman, Claudio, Matt Bush and Jose Leclerc locked in.
No, where the bulk of the assets -- both money and potential trade pieces -- will be allocated this offseason is to rebuilding the rotation, which needs two or three starting pitchers added, depending on how you feel about A.J. Griffin. Shohei Ohtani, of course, is the top target, and who knows what will happen with him — if the Rangers land Ohtani for 2018, it changes the entire dynamic of this team.
Otherwise, you have whatever of the $40-50 million you don’t use on a center fielder to bolster the rotation. I wouldn’t be surprised, if the Rangers miss out on Ohtani and determine that Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta are going to get paid too much, if Texas didn’t spend on a short-term 1-2 year deal for a free agent pitcher, trade one of the young controllable bats for a young starting pitcher, and then look at round things out with a reclamation project of the Tyson Ross variety (although, hopefully, one that works out better than Tyson Ross has).
So there you go. There’s money to spend, and not a ton of holes to fill...but the holes that need to be filled, particularly in the rotation, are going to be particularly challenging to fill.