ARLINGTON -- Veteran right-hander R.A. Dickey became a free agent on Monday when the Braves declined his option for 2018. The move came less than a week before Dickey's 43rd birthday and 21 years after the Rangers took him in the first round of the 1996 MLB Draft.
It has been 11 years since Dickey last pitched for the Rangers. That was before he developed into a knuckleball pitcher and enjoyed a splendid second half of his career as a starting pitcher. Dickey has started 252 games over the past eight years, sixth most among Major League pitchers.
He was 10-10 with a 4.26 ERA in 31 starts and 190 innings for the Braves this season and is now contemplating retirement. But Dickey has remained on good terms with the Rangers and they have had some interest in him at times in the past eight years, although nothing ever worked out in their favor.
Now, the Rangers enter the season looking for not one, but possibly three starting pitchers for their rotation. Dickey is not going to be at the top of their list or even close to it.
But when you have to buy in bulk, clubs need to look at all options, including those who might be bargains at the back end of the rotation.
Dickey is one on a long list of ex-Rangers who will be looking for a job as a free agent this winter. Some others:
1B Mitch Moreland -- He did exactly for the Red Sox what he did for the Rangers. Boston will look to do better. Texas tried to do that last winter and it didn't work.
SP Scott Feldman -- He was 7-7 with a 4.77 ERA in 21 starts for the Reds before going on the disabled list with inflammation in his right knee. That knee continues to be an issue for him but he could be a fifth starter for somebody.
SP Yovani Gallardo -- He just isn't the pitcher he once was.
SP Matt Garza -- Since his departure from the Rangers, he is 26-39 with a 4.65 ERA over the past four years with the Brewers. He was bumped out of their rotation in September even as the Brewers made a run at the postseason. The Rangers need to be creative, not desperate.
SP Derek Holland -- Whatever has befallen Holland -- loss of velocity among other factors -- the fix won't be found in Texas.
SP Miles Mikolas -- After two excellent years in Japan, the Rangers are highly intrigued.
RP Joaquin Benoit -- His 709 career relief appearances are second most among active players and, at age 40, there seems no reason why he should retire.
RP Neftali Feliz -- Released by Milwaukee and Kansas City, he is only 30 but -- like Holland -- it's hard to imagine a Rangers reunion.
RP Tommy Hunter -- He had an excellent year in the Rays bullpen and has been a quality reliever for the past six years despite some bumps and bruises.
RP Koji Uehara -- His season ended with a back injury, the Cubs kept him off their postseason roster and he'll be 43 in April. But he still wants to keep pitching.
RP Geovany Soto -- It may not be Soto but the Rangers will round up the usual number of veteran catchers to compete for a backup spot.
RP Chris Stewart -- He played in 17 nondescript games for the Rangers in 2017. But over the past seven years, Stewart has carved out a nice niche as a well-respected No. 2 catcher with the Yankees and Pirates.
C Jonathan Lucroy -- Ummmm, no.
IF Adam Rosales -- He's got 10 years in the big leagues and was with the D-backs in the postseason. Somebody up there must like him.
CF Craig Gentry -- One of the top five fastest Rangers of all time will be 34 in November. A race among Tom Goodwin, Delino DeShields, Cecil Espy, David Hulse and Gentry in their prime would have been awesome.