What's next for Rangers after adding Gibson?

December 1st, 2019

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have a three-year agreement in place with right-handed pitcher Kyle Gibson, a deal that is pending a physical. The Rangers also need to make room on their 40-man roster, but the deal is expected to be officially announced later this week before the start of the Winter Meetings.

Gibson’s signing raises a few questions and leaves a few others unanswered.

Is third base still the Rangers' No. 1 priority?

Yes, and they are definitely intrigued by the possibility of trading for Yankees third baseman Miguel Andújar. He missed most of last season after undergoing right shoulder surgery and has been replaced by Gio Urshela. The Yankees would expect much in the way of a trade, but acquiring Andújar would allow the Rangers to use their financial resources elsewhere. New York needs starting pitching, but it also has an affinity for hard-throwing relievers and Texas has depth in that area.

Everybody knows that Anthony Rendon is the top free agent but may be beyond the Rangers' grasp if he is looking for longer than a five-year deal. Josh Donaldson is also of interest to the Rangers and he could slide into the designated hitter role when Josh Jung and/or Davis Wendzel are ready.

Where does Gibson fit into the rotation?

Talent evaluators see him as a No. 4 starter, but Mike Minor came to the Rangers with a similar label and ended up at the top of the rotation. Gibson’s strengths have been his durability and his ability to get ground balls. However, he averaged 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings over the past two seasons with a four-pitch mix that includes a 93-mph fastball, curveball, slider and changeup.

That was better than Zack Greinke (8.3 strikeouts per nine innings), Masahiro Tanaka (8.20) and Minor (8.2) in the same stretch. Gibson dealt with ulcerative colitis for much of last season and that sapped his strength. If he comes in at full strength, he could have a significant impact on the rotation.

How does Gibson impact the rest of the rotation?

The Rangers still need at least one more starter. What they do at third base could impact the next starter acquisition, depending on what financial resources are needed to address that position. The obvious attractive names are Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg and Madison Bumgarner at the top of the list with Zack Wheeler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Cole Hamels and Dallas Keuchel in the second tier.

The Rangers, if they spend big at third base, could also be tempted to pursue left-hander Alex Wood or right-hander Michael Wacha. Both have had physical issues to overcome, but the Rangers have good reports on both if they feel they can keep either one healthy.

Who gets dropped from the 40-man roster to make room for Gibson?

Monday is the non-tender date. The Rangers could non-tender a player and make him a free agent, then re-sign him to a Minor League contract. The Rangers pulled that gambit with pitcher Adrian Sampson last winter at this time. The candidates this time around include pitchers Luke Farrell, Jeffrey Springs, Wei-Chieh Huang and Ian Gibaut.

Will there be a significant non-tender on Monday?

The Rangers have five arbitration-eligible players: Nomar Mazara, Willie Calhoun, Joey Gallo, Rafael Montero and Delino DeShields. Right-hander Nick Goody would be the sixth if he accepts the Rangers' waiver claim from the Indians.

DeShields would seem the most vulnerable, but he shouldn’t break the bank through arbitration, and he is the Rangers' best defensive center fielder. He is also their best speed weapon offensively. The big question is if the Rangers still see him as a possible everyday player or a fourth outfielder at best.

What has been most significant so far in the free-agent market?

Catchers have been targeted early: Yasmani Grandal has gone to the White Sox, Travis d’Arnaud to the Braves and Stephen Vogt to the D-backs. The Rangers have Jeff Mathis and Jose Trevino, but may need to watch developments on the catching market if they are serious about an upgrade.