Rangers hoping to stabilize rotation, first, corner OF in 2017

Vets Darvish, Hamels, Beltre locked in along with 'pen, infield

October 12th, 2016

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' offseason is already starting to look familiar. Once again, starting pitching is the top priority.

It seems to be an annual quest, but the reality is that most clubs go into the offseason looking to upgrade their rotation. It's the most prized commodity in the industry, and it's why the Rangers are once again pounding the drums about developing their own starting pitching.

The Rangers' efforts in that regard have been partly derailed by their willingness to trade pitching prospects for major midseason pennant-race reinforcements like , and . And that comes with the bill when clubs are determined to put themselves in the best possible position to succeed right away.

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That's always the Rangers' goal, and their highly productive farm system continues to be able to fuel such lofty ambitions.

Addressing first base and the outfield are also on the Rangers' list with four months to go before pitchers and catchers report.

Arbitration-eligible: RHP , RHP , RHP , RHP , RHP , RHP , LHP , C , IF .

Free agent: RHP , OF , 1B , OF , C Lucroy ($5.25 million club option), ($11 million club option).

Rotation: Hamels, and represent a head start for the Rangers over most clubs. Griffin, Harrell and offer internal candidates, but the two big decisions are Holland's option and the desire to re-sign Lewis for the fifth straight offseason.

Bullpen: The 'pen appears loaded with Dyson, Diekman, Jeffress, Scheppers, , , and all coming back. The Rangers have a decision to make on Tolleson, who is recovering from a back injury. He could be a non-tender candidate, but the Rangers still want to stockpile as many bullpen options as possible. Right-handers and  and left-hander are still on the roster.

Catcher: The Rangers will pick up Lucroy's option, leaving Chirinos and as backup candidates plus a veteran journeyman to be named later.

First base: It would be sad to see Moreland exit without much fanfare. He has been a significant part of the Rangers for the past seven seasons, but the solution at first base could be a platoon of and . The Rangers still have high hopes for Gallo, and Rua was quietly productive this past season.

Second base: has a chance to be an All-Star, although his defense and plate discipline could stand some improvement. Still, he won't turn 23 until February.

Shortstop: is coming off his best offensive season. He is also signed for six more years and $88 million. His trade value might be up after his strong 2016, but that contract would still be difficult to move if the Rangers wanted to make room for Profar.

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Third base: Beltre will turn 38 on April 7, but the Rangers are committed to him for two more years. He had an overall outstanding season in 2016 and stayed off the disabled list for the first time in three years.

Center field: Desmond is a free agent and has a chance at landing a lucrative long-term deal from somebody. Gomez might be a cheaper alternative. The Rangers also still have , who was solid as rookie in 2015 but not as productive this past season. The Rangers are unlikely to just hand the job back to DeShields without competition.

Corner outfield: All signs point to being in one spot and at the other. Choo is signed for four more years and $82 million, but his health issues will require the Rangers to make sure they have enough depth.

Designated hitter: , anyone? He has been released and is a free agent. If the Rangers re-sign him, it will likely be as a DH possibility, but only as a make-good candidate. From the Department of Can't Beat Them, Join Them … both and of the Blue Jays are free agents, as is the Orioles' .

Utility player: Here is a moral question: Do the Rangers have the right to force Profar into a utility role, or should they honor his desire to go elsewhere and become an everyday shortstop?