It is Saturday, March 12, 2022, and the lockout is still over.
Opening Day for the Texas Rangers is 27 days away. A skosh under four weeks.
That’s pretty soon.
We lost three months of offseason activity due to the lockout, and while there were a number of big moves in the run up to the lockout, nothing like the normal amount of signings and deals we would have over the course of a full offseason happened. And with less than a month to go before the season starts, both teams and players are going to want to move quickly to get deals done before too much time passes.
I expect that is especially the case for pitchers — a position player can miss most of spring training and have it be no big deal, but a pitcher is going to need some time to build up. We have seen in the past that pitchers that sign late are often not quite ready to go for Opening Day, and while the free agent pitching market doesn’t have the star power that there is among the top hitters, there are still a lot of pitchers looking for homes and a lot of teams looking for pitchers to give homes to. Its no coincidence the handful of moves we have already seen have involved pitchers, and I’d expect to see most of the remaining quality pitching options go off the board pretty quickly.
Which is not to say that we won’t see position players being locked up fast and furious as well — it is just that there’s more of a need for pitchers to get work in spring training than there is with position players.
In any case, I would expect a weekend with a whole bunch of rumors and a whole bunch of signings, and maybe even a trade or three. I am glad I have no commitments this weekend — and a light week this coming week — as I expect I’m going to have a whole bunch of posts to do regarding moves around baseball.
As far as the Rangers go, they struck quickly in signing Martin Perez yesterday. I saw it suggested that that was in reaction to the fact that Clayton Kershaw was returning to Los Angeles, but even if the Rangers had landed Kershaw, they still would need — or at least very much could use — a Martin Perez type for the rotation.
As things stand now, the Rangers have a front three in their rotation of Jon Gray, Dane Dunning and, presumably, Martin Perez. The final two spots as of right now would be a couple of guys from the Glenn Otto/Spencer Howard/Taylor Hearn/Kolby Allard/A.J. Alexy grab bag,
Now, we have talked about how the Rangers have a lot of major league ready/near major league ready starting pitching in the system. There’s a lot of interesting guys they have to sort through, and Cole Winn and Jack Leiter could be pushing for spots in the major league rotation before the 2022 season is over. Which leads to the thought that, well, why not use the final couple of spots to audition the young guys and see what you have with them?
If you had three rock-solid, above average, reliable starters for the first three spots, I could maybe see that argument. But there are questions about all three of the pitchers that you currently have inked in the rotation, and in an ideal world, they’d be your 3-4-5 guys, not your 1-2-3 guys. Plus, as we all know by now, you’re going to probably use 8 or 9 or 10 starting pitchers over the course of the season due to injuries or ineffectiveness or whathaveyou, so it isn’t as if, should you have a deserving young pitcher who has earned a shot at starting, he won’t get a chance.
Point being, I think the Rangers need to land — and probably are targeting — at least one more starting pitcher, preferably one who is better than Martin Perez. I’d be fine with bringing two viable veterans in to round out the rotation, quite honestly, with all your young internal options being depth, but I think at least one additional starter is a necessity, given that you are trying to take a step forward in 2022 and, even if you’re not competing for the division title, you’re trying at least not to be terrible — you’re shooting to break the five year run of sub-.500 seasons.
The Rangers have also said that they are prioritizing an outfielder, particularly one who can fit into the middle of the lineup, and, well, yeah, they need one of those. As of right now the outfield and DH spots consist of Adolis Garcia and his screaming red flags of regression, a couple of Calhouns, and a collection of guys that makes you long for the halcyon days of the Ryan Rua/Drew Robinson/Jurickson Profar triumvirate in left field.
Leody Taveras is still around and, one would hope, will do enough to get a shot at center field again at some point in the season, though likely only after spending at least a month or two in Round Rock. But it isn’t as if Adolis and Los Dos Calhounes are going to block Leody — the likelihood of all three of those guys being good enough to warrant a starting major league job over the full 2022 season seems relatively slim.
So I expect the Rangers to go hard after an outfielder. Seiya Suzuki still is the guy I’d most like to see, though Andrew McCutchen would also be a nice option. I’m down on Kris Bryant, who I don’t think profiles to hit enough to be worth the deal he’s likely going to command, and the rest of the outfield/DH types I don’t have a huge amount of enthusiasm about. We’ve talked about Nick Castellanos, and he’d be fine, I guess, but I question giving 4-5 years and a bunch of money to a guy who will likely be limited to DH.
In any case, there’s actual baseball talk now, and its going to be a hectic few days, so buckle up, and keep refreshing LSB for the latest.