Last month, we did a post on the Rangers’ payroll situation for 2023, looking at obligations and potential arbitration salaries for the upcoming season.
With some moves being made and a little clearer picture where things stand, its a good time for an update.
The Rangers have five players who are arbitration-eligible currently. Those players, along with their MLBTR projected salaries, are:
Nathaniel Lowe — $4.3M
Mitch Garver — $4.2M
Taylor Hearn — $1.7M
Brett Martin — $1.5M
Jonathan Hernandez — $1M
The Rangers originally had six arbitration-eligible players, but Dennis Santana was traded, dropping the Rangers down to five. Mitch Garver and Brett Martin are guys who the Rangers could potentially trade or non-tender, as well, but for now they are here.
The Rangers current have seven players under contract for 2023:
Corey Seager — $35M
Marcus Semien — $26M
Martin Perez — $19.65M
Jon Gray — $15M
Jake Odorizzi — $12.5M
Jose Leclerc — $6M
Brad Miller — $4M
The Atlanta Braves are paying $10 million of the $12.5 million due to Odorizzi.
All in, the total commitments, including their five arbitration-eligible players (at the arb estimates from MLBTR), is $120.85 million. Include you various minimum salary guys and it gets the Rangers to around $130 million.
In terms of needs, the Rangers need two starters and a COF/DH type. One could argue that they already obtained one of those two starters in Jake Odorizzi, but I’m not sure how confident one would feel about Odorizzi and one of Dane Dunning/Glenn Otto/Cole Ragans being your #5 starter. Odorizzi seems like the guy you want at #5, which would mean two more additions to the rotation.
In the wants category, the Rangers will probably look at adding a reliever or two — we know they’ve talked about bringing Matt Moore back, and I suspect they’ll be in the market for a closer — but that’s going to cost less than a starting pitcher or a meaningful bat.
How much do the Rangers have to spend? Well, that’s the big question, isn’t it?
If the Rangers are serious about contending in 2023, they should be looking at a payroll in the $175-200 million range. That’s reasonable, given the size of the market and the fancy new stadium the team has, and keeps them well below the competitive balance tax.
Which would mean even landing Jacob deGrom at $45M per year would leave money to spend on an additional starting pitcher, a bat, and a reliever or two, if you wanted. It would mean that you would probably look to the trade market to fill one or more of those needs, to you could acquire cost-controlled players rather than going out there and spending $15-20 million per on a long term deal for a #3 starter, but the Rangers have a strong and deep enough farm system that they should be looking to deal prospects for immediate help this offseason anyway.
One other thing to keep in mind is that the Rangers have little in the way of payroll commitments beyond 2023. Marcus Semien, Corey Seager and Jon Gray are under contract for 2024, and the Rangers hold a team option on Jose Leclerc. But that’s it, as far as commitments beyond this year.