Inbox: What lies ahead for Rangers' rotation?

Beat reporter T.R. Sullivan answers fans' questions

September 15th, 2017

Who besides should the Rangers target to fill out the rotation?

-- Richard G., New York

It appears that Japanese pitcher Shohei Ohtani will be coming to the United States next season. The 23-year-old is considered the best pitcher to come out of Japan -- move over Hideo Nomo, and -- and missing much of the season because of injuries does not seem to have dampened the frenzy.

Adding to the intrigue is the fact that Ohtani is as good a hitter as he is a pitcher, fueling speculation he could be a designated hitter or outfielder between his starts. Also, the fact that Ohtani is subject to international bonus pool limitations means this will not be a bidding war.

Instead, it will be a courtship, which is why Rangers general manager Jon Daniels is one of many GMs who have made a pilgrimage to Japan this summer in an attempt to curry favor in the Ohtani camp.

The starting-pitching free-agent market this offseason will likely be stalled until Ohtani makes a decision. Nobody really has any idea of how that will play out. It is a unique situation.

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Has finally proven that he should be Texas' starting catcher moving forward?

-- David H., Decatur, Texas

Yes. Chirinos had the highest OPS (.931) of any catcher in the Major Leagues with a minimum of 200 at-bats, and he has thrived since the departure of . The Rangers have higher priorities in the pitching department, so look for Chirinos and to be the catching tandem, with a couple of veterans invited to Spring Training and catching prospect Jose Trevino starting out in Triple-A Round Rock.

Is the Rangers' new ballpark taking into account how Joey Gallo hits deep high fly balls for home runs? Last week Gallo got a double instead of a home run in the Rays' park.

-- Kevin R., Plano, Texas

Tropicana Field is almost 30 years old. The new ballparks with retractable roofs don't have such issues. The real suspense in the next two years is if Gallo will be the first player to hit a ball onto the right-field roof at Globe Life Park.

How far is Kyle Cody from making the Rangers?

-- Justin C., Pratt, Kan.

Sunday? No, but seriously, Cody -- a 2015 second-round Draft pick by the Twins, who backed out of an agreement because of elbow issues -- might have been the biggest story in Texas' farm system. The Rangers took him in the sixth round in '16, and he is healthy and went 9-6 with a 2.34 ERA in 23 starts between Class A Hickory and Class A Advanced Down East. Cody struck out 136 in 126 innings and held opponents to a .219 average. Perhaps he'll start at Double-A Frisco in '18, and he could be a factor in '19.

Are the Rangers likely to re-sign Cashner?

-- Larry B., Fort Worth, Texas

Cashner, helped considerably by pitching coach Doug Brocail, has had a nice season with Texas. He would be a great fit for next season, but he just turned 31. Cashner is at the point of his career when he deservedly is looking for the best contract possible, and he will be in considerable demand.

Are the Rangers still paying on 's contract, even though he is out of baseball?

-- Jim O., Dallas, Texas

Fielder gets $24 million annually through 2020. The Rangers pay $9 million, insurance pays $9 million and the Tigers pay $6 million.

How long is signed for, and do you think he will re-sign?

-- Michael M., Saginaw, Texas

Choo is signed through 2020, so there is no reason to talk about re-signing him. He has quietly had an offensive season that is just slightly below his normal annual production.