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Inbox: Will Woodward use opener strategy?

Beat reporter T.R. Sullivan answers questions from fans
January 16, 2019

Have we gotten a feel about how manager Chris Woodward feels about the concept of "openers"?  -- Joe S., Garland, TexasWoodward was asked about this at the Winter Meetings. The Rangers would obviously love to have a rotation like the Astros and Indians had last season, but not many Major

Have we gotten a feel about how manager Chris Woodward feels about the concept of "openers"?  
-- Joe S., Garland, Texas
Woodward was asked about this at the Winter Meetings. The Rangers would obviously love to have a rotation like the Astros and Indians had last season, but not many Major League teams are that fortunate. The Rangers are less fortunate than most, so Woodward understands the need to be open-minded and creative when it comes to his pitching staff. He also knows there is data that supports the idea that many pitchers are effective for no more than two times through the lineup. But this whole idea of "openers" is still in the experimental stage, so there is no telling yet if it will become standard operating procedure or a passing fad.
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Is there any possibility the Rangers would jump into the Manny Machado sweepstakes? If the price really is falling to the $175 million range, it feels like a major bargain, and he'd be an ideal fit in this lineup. 
-- Mark M., Little Rock, Ark.
Machado would be a great fit in any lineup, but right now, the inside word from the Rangers is they are not in the Machado sweepstakes and have no plans of entering into it. That's where it stands right now for Texas.
When do you see the Rangers adding a third baseman, or even a right-handed-hitting outfielder?
-- Tony N., Waskom, Texas
The Rangers are determined to sign a veteran third baseman before their offseason work is over. Club sources have made that clear. Obviously, Mike Moustakas is the best third baseman on the free-agent market, but it seems like he will attract plenty of attention from serious contenders once Machado has made a decision. Once you get past Moustakas, the candidates are more utility-type players. Josh Harrison, Yangervis Solarte and Marwin Gonzalez are among the best of the bunch. Certainly, the Rangers are determined to add someone to go with rookie Patrick Wisdom.
When will Jose Trevino get his shot? I know he's coming off an injury but there's not a better defensive catcher in the system and he has definitely proved he's a winner.
-- Jon B., Amarillo, Texas
Trevino has been getting after it this offseason and has been a regular member of the daily workouts at the Youth Academy in West Dallas. <https: c-302701210="" news="" rangers="" rangers-use-dallas-youth-academy-for-workouts=""""> He is a talented defensive catcher but still could use more development offensively. Trevino has played in 151 games at Double-A Frisco over the past two years, hitting .239 with a .278 on-base percentage and a .326 slugging percentage. There is room for improvement.
I realize we are in a rebuilding time, but I would like to see the Rangers bring in a veteran right-handed bat on a two-year deal to bridge the gap for the up-and-coming outfielders. 
-- Greg K., Sunnyvale, Texas

The guy that seems to make a lot of sense would be Adam Jones, a right-handed-hitting, free-agent outfielder who can play all three positions and can be used at designated hitter. He could also provide some experience and leadership on a young, rebuilding team.
What is general manager Jon Daniels' thought process about signing pitchers that have had Tommy John surgery?
-- Michael G., Dallas

It's a signing that is often misleadingly labeled as a "low-risk, high-reward" proposition. Certainly, the financial outlay is not as significant as it would be for a healthy pitcher, and the hope is the pitcher will eventually be as good or better than he was before the surgery. The reality is, clubs and pitchers have had mixed results in coming back from the procedure.
It seems that the past 2-3 years, the Rangers signed no less than three pitchers who were coming off serious injuries. Those pitchers were almost immediately ordained as starters. Is the front office hoping against hope that it will work out this time? Are they biding time and saving money in an attempt to sign a proven starter or two next year when the new park opens?
-- Jim C., Stephenville, Texas

The Rangers' strategy last offseason and this one has been quite obvious. Their farm system is barren of young pitchers at the top end, and they have an abnormally high number of openings in the Major League rotation. The Rangers have been relentless over the past 18 months in trying to restock their Minor League pitching and have made significant progress. But it has required them to buy in bulk on the free-agent market to rebuild the big league rotation, and they have had to take chances on pitchers with questionable physical and performance issues. If the Rangers' farm system can start being productive again, they can get back to being more selective and more aggressive in playing at the higher end of the free-agent market in the near future.
After the Rangers have gone pitching-strong in the Draft and through trades, I feel like we've built up a good amount of pitching prospects. Now let's look into this year's Draft. What position do you think the Rangers will try to draft next?
-- Miguel G., Arlington, Texas

Pitching. Then once they feel they have enough pitching, they should draft some more. Look, obviously if there is a sure-fire position player that is clearly too good to pass up, then the Rangers should draft him. But all things being equal or close to it ... pitching, pitching, pitching.
Any news on Josh Hamilton? Have the Rangers remained in contact with him? Any plans to put him in the Rangers Hall of Fame or maybe add to the staff as a special assistant to the general manager?
-- Jimmie B., Sweetwater, Texas
At some point, Hamilton would be a strong candidate to be in the Rangers Hall of Fame. Right now, there is no indication of Hamilton looking into a front-office role in baseball.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.