With Spring Training just about two months away, a few holes still need to be filled on the roster and questions need to be answered, so it’s the perfect time for an offseason Rangers Inbox:
How about an assessment of the FA and trade markets for an impact bat in the OF? Feels like the pickings are getting slim.
Will Josh H. Smith be subject to trade if the Rangers pick up an outfielder this offseason?
Trey Mancini might be the last big-name outfielder left on the free-agent market at this point, and for nostalgia’s sake, Jurickson Profar is still unsigned as well. Both would likely be upgrades in left field for Texas, which currently has a rotation of Brad Miller, Smith, Bubba Thompson and Ezequiel Duran at the position.
Mancini, however, is coming off the worst statistical year of his career with the Orioles and Astros. Profar posted a 111 OPS+ with the Padres in '22, but he never quite reached the potential the Rangers expected from him when he was the club’s top prospect in ‘12.
There’s still the possibility that Texas will allow the young trio of Smith, Thompson and Duran to grow into the position at the big league level, but if a trade does happen, at least one of them is likely to be included in that package.
The Pirates appear to have no desire to honor Bryan Reynolds’ trade request, but he would cost a pretty prospect penny if Texas wanted to pursue that.
Where is Matt Moore?
When will they re-sign Matt Moore?
With the obvious exception of bringing Moore back, what are some other options the Rangers could pursue to improve the bullpen?
Lots of Moore and bullpen related questions coming up, and for good reason. Despite having two relievers with a sub-2.00 ERA in 2022 -- Moore and Brock Burke -- the Rangers' bullpen posted a 3.72 ERA as a staff.
The first step to improving the bullpen would be to bring back Moore, which general manager Chris Young has noted is still in the conversation as the front office evaluates the free-agent landscape following the Winter Meetings. Moore said at the end of the 2022 season that he would love the opportunity to return to Texas, so both sides are clearly interested in a reunion.
Elsewhere, the Rangers have length options in Burke and Taylor Hearn, but they could benefit from adding more high-leverage options to compete with José Leclerc and Jonathan Hernández. One option still available in free agency includes Andrew Chafin (2.29 ERA and 131 strikeouts over the past two seasons).
Like Hearn, who was moved to the bullpen as a multi-inning arm in the middle of last season, I would expect Dunning, Otto and Ragans to all work in that same role, or similar to it, next year.
The Rangers were in desperate need of depth in the rotation entering this offseason, and the importance of having those three available to transition back into the rotation if necessary cannot be understated. Dunning was a reliever for a year at the University of Florida and will likely be comfortable working in that role again, and it’s been suggested that Otto may even be more successful in shorter stints, just once or twice through the lineup.
Whatever the plan and how it evolves, the Rangers are in a better pitching position than they have been in the last few years.
“There's no doubt the last couple years, we've run into this, where we haven't had the depth of starting pitching, we haven't had the quality of starting pitching that we need to be successful,” Young said at the GM Meetings in November. "I don’t think you can have enough depth in your starting pitching.”
Who do you think on the team would be the best Christmas caroler?