5 questions facing the Rangers this offseason

November 12th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Kennedi Landry's Rangers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

For the first time in a long time, the Rangers aren’t looking at a full-scale rebuild or roster overhaul going into the offseason. Coming off the first World Series in franchise history, Texas isn’t looking at manager, front office changes or even lineup turnover.

Instead, Texas is looking at the most efficient practical ways to defend its title with both internal and external moves over the next several months. But that doesn’t mean the club is without questions.

Here are five that face the Rangers this offseason:

Do they need more rotation depth?
Well, in the wise words of Chris Young, you can never have too much starting pitching.

If the season started today, the rotation would include Nathan Eovaldi, Max Scherzer, Andrew Heaney, Jon Gray and Dane Dunning, with Cody Bradford as the sixth arm to round it out. Prospects Owen White (No. 8 in the organization per MLB Pipeline) and Cole Winn (No. 28) are on the 40-man roster with little to no MLB experience.

Considering Eovaldi, Scherzer and Gray all spent time on the injured list in 2022, Texas will no doubt go looking for more veteran arms to add depth to the rotation.

The Rangers’ biggest point of emphasis will likely be re-signing Jordan Montgomery, whom Texas acquired at the Trade Deadline for a package of prospects. Montgomery went 4-2 with a 2.79 ERA in 11 regular-season starts and 3-1 with a 2.90 ERA in six postseason games (five starts). Adding him back to the rotation will alleviate the stress that comes with a lack of depth entering Spring Training.

What are they going to do about the back of the bullpen? The front of the bullpen? Honestly, the entire bullpen?
The Rangers’ bullpen will need a massive facelift; there’s no getting around it. In the regular season, Texas had the offense to overcome a historically bad high-leverage bullpen, which blew more saves than it converted. In the postseason, manager Bruce Bochy mainly rode three high-leverage arms -- José Leclerc, Aroldis Chapman and Josh Sborz -- to the first World Series title in franchise history.

Chapman is a free agent, so at best, the Rangers go into the winter with four relievers they can trust if you include Jonathan Hernández and Brett Martin, both of whom ended the season on the injured list.

Whether via free agency or trade, the front office will no doubt look to fortify the bullpen going into 2024.

Will they be in on the Shohei sweepstakes?
The real question is who isn’t in on the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes. The two-way superstar was named the AL MVP in 2021 and is the favorite to win it this year, despite his season ending a month early with a UCL tear.

Ohtani is expected to be ready to hit on Opening Day 2024, but he won’t pitch until ‘25. He is the biggest star on the market this offseason and will have no shortage of suitors. Texas is in need of a DH, and it would be smart to at least check in on a player who could make the reigning champs even better.

How soon will Wyatt Langford become an option?
Langford, the No. 4 overall pick out of the University of Florida in the 2023 MLB Draft, finds himself knocking on the door of the big leagues less than six months after competing in the College World Series.

The Rangers’ top prospect not named Evan Carter, Langford jumped across four levels of the Minors and finished hot in Triple-A to end the regular season.

Rookie (three games): .385/.429/.846/1.275
High-A Hickory (24 games): .333/.453/.644/1.097
Double-A Frisco (12 games): .405/.519/.762/1.281
Triple-A Round Rock (five games): .368/.538/.526/1.064

The Rangers are set in the outfield as it stands with Carter, Leody Taveras and Adolis García, plus utilitymen Ezequiel Duran and Josh Smith coming off the bench, but Langford could no doubt play his way into Arlington as soon as Opening Day.

Texas won’t rush the 21-year-old, but he’s shown no fear at every level of the game so far. If he’s ready, he’ll let them know.

Will the DH spot be filled internally or externally?
Speaking of prospects, another under-the-radar option who could make himself known come Spring Training is 2020 first-round Draft pick Justin Foscue. The infielder hit .266 with an .862 OPS with Triple-A Round Rock in 2023 and impressed in big league Spring Training going into the season.

With Mitch Garver, Brad Miller and Robbie Grossman -- who combined for 118 games at DH this season -- becoming free agents, the Rangers will look to add at least one bat to an already potent lineup. That could come internally -- Foscue, Duran, etc. -- or externally, though it’s a fairly weak free-agent class on the hitter side.

While Foscue and Duran could provide quality at-bats, Texas would likely be more comfortable with a solid and proven option at designated hitter come Opening Day and will continue to search externally for a main DH option.