Which Rangers are candidates for extensions?

February 18th, 2020

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers are in the process of getting all their pre-arbitration players under contract by the start of Cactus League games on Friday.

The next item of business could be contract extensions for one or more players. That’s always a topic of conversation for the Rangers in Spring Training.

“We are always open if it’s the right person and the right circumstances,” president of baseball operations and general manager Jon Daniels said. “It’s something we haven’t gotten to yet. We’ll talk internally and see if we are going to approach anybody.”

Here are five players whose situations are worth watching.

Minor, 32, is a free agent after the season and would like to remain in Texas. It would seem prudent the Rangers not let him get away, but this could be Minor’s best chance to land the biggest contract of his career if he has another excellent season. Next winter’s free agent class does not appear to be especially deep, and Minor could be the top starter on the market. But the security of a contract extension this spring also has appeal.

Gallo, who is represented by Scott Boras, has two more years of arbitration before becoming eligible for free agency in 2023. Rougned Odor was in a similar spot at the end of 2017 Spring Training when the Rangers signed him to a six-year extension. That bought out three years of arbitration and potentially three years of free agency.

But there is still some unknown. Gallo has yet to hit his perceived ceiling as a player. A potential long-term extension might undervalue Gallo if he has three big years before becoming a free agent. It’s easy to see Boras standing in a hotel lobby at the 2022 Winter Meetings and explaining how Gallo is a “generational” player.

Will the Rangers do for Choo what they did for Adrian Beltre at the beginning of the 2016 season? Beltre was 37 and headed for free agency after the 2016 season when the Rangers signed him to a two-year extension.

Choo, 37, is in better physical condition but Beltre was also a premier player at a difficult position to fill. Choo should get most of his at-bats as a designated hitter, and that’s a position that can be addressed for lesser money. He also turns 38 in July. That said, Choo has had three straight productive and injury-free seasons and has come to mean a lot to the Rangers because of his leadership and clubhouse presence.

Choo’s situation probably doesn’t get addressed until after the season, but finishing his career with the Rangers is not totally out of the question.

Santana, the Rangers Player of the Year in 2019, has two years to go before free agency. He revived his career with his breakout season in 2019, but it would likely take a leap of faith for the Rangers to do a long-term deal at this point. Santana, 29, certainly wouldn’t mind listening to anything the Rangers have to say. But two more years like last season and there will be plenty of teams interested in Santana’s services.

The Rangers hold an $18 million option on Kluber for the 2021 season. His difficult 2019 season creates some risk in considering a long-term deal for a pitcher who turns 34 on April 10. But he had a five-year run with the Indians when he was one of the best pitchers in the game. If he comes back strong this season, the Rangers have something special. Both sides will wait to see how Kluber does this year. But last spring, the Astros did a two-year contract extension with Justin Verlander to keep him from becoming a free agent and that might eventually be a precedent for Kluber.