Rangers now committed to 'youth movement'

September 30th, 2020

ARLINGTON -- There will be no quick fixes for the Rangers as they move forward from one of the toughest seasons in club history.

During his end-of-season session with the media on Tuesday, general manager Jon Daniels said the Rangers are committed to the youth movement that began in earnest this season and are determined to see it through. He said he is hopeful that in one or two years, Texas will have a core of young players in place that can be supplemented by the outside acquisitions necessary to be serious contenders.

“This season is ultimately going to be marked by us moving into a youth movement,” Daniels said. “Everything we did moving forward is going to revolve around that. Our winter additions [must] fit into the roster we are putting together and also fit into the development-minded culture we need to have. The more we stay focused on developing these players, the quicker we are going to see results. That is going to be 100 percent our focus up and down the organization.”

In the past, the Rangers' ownership group has been willing to spend money to put together a contending team. Daniels said Ray Davis, the club's co-chairman and managing partner, recognizes this is a necessary step, given Texas has had four straight losing seasons after winning back-to-back American League West titles in 2015 and '16.

“This winter is probably not the time that we're going to go headlong into free agency, but I don't think that's too far off,” Daniels said. “To do that, you've got to really have an understanding of the foundation that you're building upon, and the most important thing we could do right now is to establish that.

“We are within a year or two of establishing a number of our young players at the Major League level. With the new ballpark [Globe Life Field], we will have the right combination of revenues and ownership group willing to support the club and a number of young players we feel in that same timeframe are going to establish themselves at the Major League level and build on.”

Here were some of the specific areas discussed by Daniels:

Middle infield
Shortstop Elvis Andrus and second baseman Rougned Odor must earn their starting jobs next year. If they don’t, they could be asked to play other positions. Both are signed through 2022 -- Andrus at $28.5 million and Odor at $27.7 million -- but Daniels doesn’t foresee letting either player go and the organization absorbing their contracts.

“I don't think that we're going to need to go down that path,” Daniels said.

Offense being top priority
“We have more talent on this team than we had production,” Daniels said. “We are not going to hit the way we did this year. We can’t. Just about every player on the roster is capable of more offensively than they showed this year. We are going to get better, that is a priority. A lot of it is going to be which of these young players we feel are ready for the challenge next year.”

Daniels said left field could be an area where the Rangers add offense. Nick Solak could play there if Texas stays with Odor at second base. Eli White, Adolis García and Scott Heineman are other internal candidates.

The Rangers also want Willie Calhoun to continue to work on his defense and not accept being limited to designated hitter. Danny Santana is recovering from elbow surgery and unlikely to be ready for the start of next season. Santana is arbitration eligible, and Texas will have to address his situation at some point.

Starting pitching
Right-hander Lance Lynn is a free agent after next season. The Rangers will need to decide if they should trade him, sign him to a long-term contract or just let next season play out.

Texas is not expected to pick up right-hander Corey Kluber’s option, but it will try to re-sign him to a smaller contract. The Rangers likely need more out of righties Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles. They also will need to see which pitchers are ready to compete for a spot in the rotation and which ones need more development time in the Minor Leagues.

“Depending on how we go, we could look to add another starter,” Daniels said. “So we are able to pitch the young pitchers when we want to and when they are ready and not when we are forced to.”

Joey Gallo
Gallo is a free agent after the 2022 season. The Rangers were impressed with his defense in right field, but his offense was a bit disappointing as he batted .181 with 10 homers. Texas is still open to the possibility of signing Gallo to a contract for beyond '22.

“I think Joey, we’ve now seen him perform at top levels in every area of the game,” Daniels said. “In the past, he’s been better offensively, and in baserunning I would say, too. This year, him and Mookie Betts were neck and neck for the best defensive right fielders in the game. There’s nothing that Joey’s not capable of.

“Ultimately, the best players in the game do it on a consistent level, day to day, year to year. I think that’s kind of the final piece for Joey to demonstrate. We know the potential is there.”

That’s why the Rangers didn’t deal Gallo this year at the Aug. 31 Trade Deadline.

“We felt like there was still more there,” Daniels said. “We wanted to wait it out. Our options with Joey, one of which includes extending him, are still very much available to us. We’ll have those conversations. I don’t know exactly where that will go.”

Rangers announce award winners

The Rangers announced their five team awards, as selected by the local chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America:

Player of the Year: Isiah Kiner-Falefa, INF
Pitcher of the Year: Lance Lynn, RHP
Rookie of the Year: Jonathan Hernández, RHP
Harold McKinney Good Guy Award: Chris Woodward, manager
Richard Durrett Hardest Working Player: Jose Trevino, C