Inbox: Will front office pursue starting pitching?

Beat reporter T.R. Sullivan answers questions from fans

August 15th, 2018

With the progression of some of the younger core players in the second half of the season, does that prompt the front office to be bigger players in the free-agent pitching and/or trade market this offseason? Or will it be the same approach as last year? 
-- Andrew A., Fort Worth, Texas
The top five starters on last offseason's free-agent market were , , Alex Cobb, and . How did they all turn out?
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Not knowing what will happen with , Cole Hamels and others with opt-out clauses or club options, the top five free-agent starters for next season appear to be J.A. Happ, Charlie Morton, and ... or maybe , Matt Harvey, or .
Kershaw is the best pitcher on the planet, but has been on the disabled list four times in the past three seasons. The point is, free-agent starting pitching is a crapshoot and it is perilous to presume that it is the solution for any team's pitching woes.
That said, the Rangers' dearth of ready-to-go starting pitching will require them to wade into the free-agent market this offseason. How deep they go will likely be determined by how they feel about their current inventory at the end of the season.
In all of Rangers history, they have not been able to develop their own pitchers that I can recall. What makes them think they can do it now? Have they made some significant change in the organization?
-- Alan J., Fort Worth 
The Rangers are quite aware of their history in developing their own pitching, and they are putting a lot of effort to try to correct the situation. But it comes down to identifying the talent, developing it properly and keeping it healthy.
Developing them properly means making sure pitchers are completely prepared before they are rushed to the big leagues prematurely. That includes having developed enough weapons to get big league hitters out, having enough experience to handle different situations including failure, having enough success to feel confident in themselves and being developed physically so they can stay healthy.
Who do you see on the team next year between and ? It seems Gallardo likes pitching here and has done OK of late. Perez is just too inconsistent year in and year out, what do you think?
-- Steven A., San Fernando, Calif.
The final six weeks could determine the Rangers' decisions on both. Perez may be the most vexing pitcher Texas has had in a long time. There is no doubt the Rangers hoped Perez would be much farther along in his career by now, but at the same time, there isn't much down below in the system ready to push him aside. Somebody has to start next season, and if Texas truly feels there is upside, then the club might as well roll the dice on Perez one more time.
What is the reason why Rule 5 Draft picks have to stay on the 25-man roster all season?
-- James Q., Athens, Texas
The basic premise of the Rule 5 Draft is to keep organizations from stockpiling Minor League talent that could be in the Major Leagues with other teams. Much of this goes back to before the beginning of expansion in 1961, when teams like the Yankees and Dodgers hoarded players who should have been in the big leagues. Other measures, like Minor League free agency, have since been implemented to keep that from happening as well.
Have the Rangers given any thought to using in center field? A middle infielder should be able to make the switch. It seems to be an obvious move, but they seem to be more likely to trade Profar than to try him in center.
-- Eddie T., Sherman, Texas

The Rangers' No. 1 mission with Profar this season has been to make sure he is ready to step in if either retires or opts out of his contract. There seems to be a better chance of Beltre retiring than Andrus opting out of his contract to enter into free agency. But Texas needs to be ready either way, hence the club's approach with Andrus.
What would you think of a rule that would require two infielders on each side of second base when the pitch is released?
-- Doug H., Orange, Texas
I'm not a big fan of legislating defensive strategy. It just seemed to make the NFL and NBA more complicated than necessary.