With the World Series having finished, the 2018 MLB season is now officially over, and thus deadlines for certain decisions are now set. The most immediate deadline is for team and player options to be picked up — that deadline is three days after the World Series ends, so those decisions have to be made by Wednesday, October 31.
The Texas Rangers hold team options for 2019 on four players, and there’s not likely to be much mystery surrounding those decisions. Texas will pick up the $2.375 million team option for 2019 on catcher Robinson Chirinos, and will decline the $10 million team option for Matt Moore, resulting in a $750,000 buyout for him.
The Rangers also hold a $4.5 million team option for 2019 on Doug Fister, with a $500,000 buyout, and that most likely will be declined. Fister was serviceable when he was healthy in 2018, but missed the bulk of the year, including all of the second half, due to injury, and so while $4 million isn’t a lot of money, the health issues make it likely the Rangers will decline to exercise the option.
Finally, the Rangers hold a $7.5 million option in 2019 on Martin Perez, with a $750,000 buyout. Perez had an awful 2018 season, and ended up being bumped from the rotation, with the Rangers indicating at one point that they were not planning on picking up the 2019 option, though they later suggested the door was still open to them exercising it. Most likely, Texas will decline the option, pay the buyout, and leave open the possibility of Perez coming back on a cheaper deal.
On the flip side, Elvis Andrus has an opt-out on his contract that he can exercise. However, after missing a good chunk of the 2018 season with a broken arm, and then struggling after his return to the lineup, Elvis almost certainly will not opt out. He has an opt out after 2019, as well.
One player to keep an eye on who is not on the Rangers is Clayton Kershaw. His contract provides that he must decide by Wednesday, October 31, whether or not he will opt out of the final two years of his contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. At one point, opting out of the final two years and $65 million of the deal seemed like a no-brainer for Kershaw, and it was expected the Rangers would make a push for him, should he do so. However, after dealing with injuries the past three years, and after a good but not dominant 2018 campaign, the situation is more nebulous.
Kershaw, who turns 31 before the start of the 2019 season, has been the best pitcher in baseball over the past eight years — from 2011-17, he won an MVP Award, was an All Star each year, and finished first in the Cy Young balloting three times, second twice, and in the top five the other two times. However, his fastball velocity was down this year, and he’s looked the past two seasons more like a really good starting pitcher rather than the best pitcher in baseball. Kershaw worked a bunch of innings in his early 20s, and as we have seen with Yu Darvish and Felix Hernandez, pitchers who have those heavy early workloads can fall off quickly at this age.