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Inbox: Will Rangers pursue big free agent?

Beat reporter T.R. Sullivan answers questions from Texas fans
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

Can we expect the Rangers to make a "large" free-agent signing this offseason -- i.e., not Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, but still an impact signing?
-- David K., Plano, Texas

If the Rangers make an impact signing this offseason, their preference would be to land Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, who was posted Tuesday by the Seibu Lions. He is coming off three strong seasons in Japan, and at age 27, he's at least two years younger than the premier Major League free-agent pitchers like Dallas Keuchel.

Can we expect the Rangers to make a "large" free-agent signing this offseason -- i.e., not Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, but still an impact signing?
-- David K., Plano, Texas

If the Rangers make an impact signing this offseason, their preference would be to land Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, who was posted Tuesday by the Seibu Lions. He is coming off three strong seasons in Japan, and at age 27, he's at least two years younger than the premier Major League free-agent pitchers like Dallas Keuchel.

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Kikuchi had a 3.08 ERA, a 1.033 WHIP and a 3.40 strikeout-to-walk ratio this past season, and he was even better in 2017 with a 1.97 ERA, a 0.911 WHIP and a 4.43 K/BB. The Rangers see him as an excellent addition to the foundation they are building, but as with Shohei Ohtani last year, the price will be steep and the competition will be intense.

Do you think president of baseball operations and general manager Jon Daniels will be exploring trades from our depth of left-handed-hitting corner outfielders/designated hitters -- Nomar Mazara, Willie Calhoun, Shin-Soo Choo -- in order to get young pitching?
-- Caden C., Tyler, Texas

Yes. First of all, Daniels explores everything. Secondly, he has made it clear that the Rangers have some depth in the outfield that could be earmarked for pitching help. Mazara would definitely get the most in return, followed by Joey Gallo. Calhoun still has potential, but he is not likely to command a front-line pitcher.

Video: SEA@TEX: Mazara rips a 2-run double to center in 6th

Then there is Choo. His once-forbidden contract is now down to two years, $42 million. That's getting to be more attractive, especially to potential American League suitors, because he has been performing at a high rate. The idea that Choo had a "bad contract" needing to be unloaded has always been a dubious view, and it appears to be diminishing by the year.

Could you see Adrian Beltre becoming a part of the field staff for the Rangers?
-- Parker V., Midland, Texas

Beltre was asked a similar question at his retirement news conference, and he dismissed the idea of being interested in coaching or managing. However, he joked that he wouldn't mind one of those "special assistant" jobs like the one Michael Young has.

Video: Adrian Beltre wants Michael Young's job

What would be more intriguing is if Beltre would be interested in a more prominent front-office role, like general manager, vice president or even president. Beltre is known for his baseball knowledge and leadership skills, but he also has the general business acumen needed to handle an impact front-office job beyond just a ceremonial diplomatic posting.

Since Beltre is now retired and Jurickson Profar is projected to take over at third base, do you expect his defense to improve? Or will the Rangers ask Gallo to move back to third, even though he doesn't like it?
-- Travis H., Benbrook, Texas

Expect Profar's defense to improve drastically if he is anchored at one position. Profar has always been a physically gifted athlete, and also one with a high baseball IQ. That has allowed him to bounce from one position to another and thrive in the role, but the opportunity to stay in one spot has to be of great benefit defensively.

Video: TEX@SEA: Profar robs Voelbach with impressive grab

If the Rangers don't go out and improve their starting rotation, is there a chance we could see the "opener" strategy being deployed once every five days? I'm curious about how that trend will continue to spread in 2019.
-- Adam D., New York

Many people have the same curiosity. Obviously, this is a new development in baseball and nobody is sure how it will play out. There is no doubt that any team would prefer the kind of rotation that the Astros and Indians had this past season, but that's difficult to achieve. It's hard to see this "bullpen" concept taking over completely, and it seems more suited to the postseason rather than over 162 regular-season games. But the Rangers are definitely interested in continuing to experiment with the concept.

With the crazy tear-down of the Mariners this offseason and what they have received from trades, if the Rangers were to tank worse this year or barely get better, should they consider taking similar actions in the 2019 offseason?
-- Reagon W., Cedar Park, Texas

A tear-down suggests that a team has gone as far as it can with its nucleus of talent and that it's time to rebuild. That description doesn't seem to fit the Rangers. They have a strong nucleus of young offensive players who are still growing and trying to maximize their potential. Texas' task is figure out a way to match that group with quality pitching. If the Rangers can't achieve that objective in the next year or two, then it could very well be time to start anew.

Video: Rangers unveil new model for Globe Life Field

Not that there is anything wrong with them, but do you foresee any upgrades to the Rangers' uniforms in 2020 to go along with the new stadium? Except for minor tweaks, it has been a while.
-- Michael B., Glenn Heights, Ill.

Yes. The Rangers did that in 1994 when they moved into the Ballpark in Arlington and switched to the once-iconic red uniforms that many remember so fondly. Texas got away from that over the years, but it would seem a new ballpark is the perfect time to make multiple cosmetic changes to the organization. New uniforms should be on that list.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

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