What is Jon Daniels' overall plan? Kick the can down the road in 2019 to let the farm develop and be ready to spend when the new park opens? To accept the dominance of the Astros and keep costs down while they reign? Some of both? This team just doesn't
What is Jon Daniels' overall plan? Kick the can down the road in 2019 to let the farm develop and be ready to spend when the new park opens? To accept the dominance of the Astros and keep costs down while they reign? Some of both? This team just doesn't seem so far away that purposely fielding a non-competitive rotation makes sense to a fan like me.
-- Alex W., Austin, Texas
The Rangers' approach this season seems based on two areas of attack. First, with the signing of right-handed pitcher Lance Lynn and the pursuit of other mid-range free agents, the Rangers are making a sincere, if modest, attempt to put together a respectable team on the field. The offseason is only halfway done, so there are many more moves to come. But the Rangers are also willing to trade any of their coveted assets to continue their mission of stockpiling young pitching. That seems to be the prime directive in Arlington. The big question is if their young offensive talent will still be together once some of that young pitching is ready for the Major Leagues.
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I've read a lot about the Rangers having a better chance of landing "superstars" since there will be no more 105-degree summer days. Do you believe stud players will want to come to Texas because of this?
-- Brady S., Seminole, Texas
There are many factors players consider when trying to decide where to play. Obviously, value of contract is high along with playing opportunity, and the chances of being on a winning team. Location is right behind those three crucial elements, and North Texas has much to offer free agents and their families. If the Rangers are able to put together a contending team again with all this young talent, they will be in good position to be a major player in the free-agent market. The new ballpark will be a major asset, but only if the top free agents see this as a winning destination.
Why no interest in catcher J.T. Realmuto?
-- Cale M., Carrollton, Ga.
Realmuto is an excellent catcher, but he can also be a free agent after the 2020 season. If the Rangers tried to acquire him, they would have to give up multiple top prospects and that would run contrary to what they are trying to do. The Rangers would certainly be interested in Realmuto if they thought they were closer to winning, just as they were interested in catcher Jonathan Lucroy in '16.
If no bats are traded between now and the beginning of the season, is it most likely that outfielder Willie Calhoun starts the season in Triple-A?
-- Charles G., Arlington
Yes, right now he would be the odd man out with Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara as the corner outfielders, Delino DeShields in center, Ronald Guzman at first and Shin-Soo Choo at designated hitter. But that's just for the moment. The Rangers still have people looking at their young offensive talent and who knows what moves could be brewing before Spring Training.
We've had some incredible young talent, and a good handful of times players came up for injury replacement and stayed. Who is your pick for the next surprise callup who stays in the bigs?
-- Brandon S., Bryant, Ark.
Outfielder Scott Heineman wouldn't exactly be a surprise, but he has a chance to get to the big leagues and have an impact on the Rangers. It is also notable that the Rangers have moved on from Ryan Rua and Drew Robinson. That seems to indicate a certain amount of confidence in Heineman's ability in providing outfield depth.
Does Isiah Kiner-Falefa need half a season at Triple-A to hone catching skills and is Jarrod Saltalamacchia worth a one-year contract as a stop gap?
-- Donald M., Quinlan, Texas
The Rangers are not done acquiring catching, and it would not be surprising if they decided Kiner-Falefa needs more time. But that may be decided in Spring Training after the new regime sizes him up. He could easily end up sharing time under the tutelage of Jeff Mathis. Saltalamacchia has had a nice career that includes a World Series ring with Boston, but he is not an answer for the Rangers.
Is there a moment in time where the 2010-11 era slammed shut? I feel like the moment Josh Hamilton dropped the ball in Oakland in 2012, it's been downhill ever since, as far as legitimate World Series aspirations go.
-- Kyle D., Euless, Texas
Not sure the door slammed shut as much as it closed with agonizingly slowness. Hamilton's error? How about those three errors in the seventh inning of Game 5 of the American League Division Series against the Blue Jays back in 2015. (Of course, if Colby Lewis had started Game 3 instead of Martin Perez ... ) It's hard to pick one moment, even with David Freese or Hamilton, and hold off on the tedious Nolan Ryan conspiracy theories. But at the top of my list is the rapid fall of the '11 starting rotation, beginning with putting Alexi Ogando in the bullpen and replacing him with Neftali Feliz, and the parade of injuries to Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Lewis. That hurt the Rangers more than anything short and long term.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.