ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are headed to a busy offseason after the conclusion of the World Series, and they intend to be active in free agency as the club hopes to emerge from its rebuilding process.
General manager Chris Young and president of baseball operations Jon Daniels said Texas plans to be "active and aggressive" in free agency and that it's gotten the go-ahead from ownership to spend big if necessary.
Here are some frequently asked questions as we head into one of the busiest times of the offseason for the Rangers:
1. Which players are free agents? Are any likely to receive qualifying offers? What are the free-agent deadlines?
The Rangers only have three players who will become free agents following the conclusion of the World Series: starting pitcher Jordan Lyles and utility infielders Charlie Culberson and Brock Holt. Qualifying offers must be extended five days after the conclusion of the World Series, but don't count on any of the three to receive one.
That doesn’t mean Lyles, Culberson or Holt won't return to the Rangers next season, though. Texas has little money on the books heading into 2022, and even less veteran presence in the clubhouse. Lyles, who posted a 5.15 ERA in ‘21, could be a valuable presence for a young pitching staff, and both Culberson and Holt are utility players with the ability to play all five infield positions.
Nothing is guaranteed, but all three could have a place in Arlington in 2022.
2. Which players have options? What's the dollar figure and impact on payroll?
The Rangers don’t have any players with options going into 2022. Relief pitcher Jose Leclerc has a $6 million team option in ‘23 and a $6.25 million in ‘24, but nothing prior to that.
3. Who might be a non-tender candidate? When does the club have to make that decision?
The non-tender deadline is 8 p.m. ET on Dec. 2. Outfielder Eli White stands out as a non-tender candidate more than anyone else, especially with the club's upcoming roster crunch. White seemed primed for a breakout midway through the 2021 season, but landed on the injured list with a right elbow strain on Aug. 5. He’ll be ready for Spring Training, but Texas has a plethora of outfielders competing for a spot on the Opening Day roster and White could be a roster-crunch casualty.
4. Who needs to be added to the 40-man roster to avoid the Rule 5 Draft?
The Rule 5 Draft will take place on Dec. 8, during the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla. The Rangers have a long list of players at risk of being picked up if not added to the 40-man roster before then, including: Trevor Hauver, Steele Walker, Cole Ragans, Bubba Thompson, Chris Seise, Ricky Vanasco, Jake Latz, Ryan Dorrow, Ronny Henriquez and Cole Uvila.
The most pressing additions are Ragans (unranked on MLB Pipeline) and Thompson (Rangers No. 28 per MLB Pipeline). Ragans was the Rangers’ top pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, and Thompson was the top pick in 2017. Ragans, a lefty who posted a 4.35 ERA between High-A Hickory and Double-A Frisco this season, escaped being selected in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft but emerged this season, and the Rangers might want to protect him.
Thompson had a breakout season after struggling with injuries for much of his professional career. His .275/.325/.483 slash line was by far a career high. It wouldn’t be a shock if the Rangers add him to the 40-man roster.
5. What kind of help do the Rangers need? Who might they target in free agency?
At the end of the season, Young didn’t mince words when he said Texas could improve at practically every position. And he wasn’t wrong. At the same time, Daniels added that the Rangers wouldn’t count themselves out this offseason due to any player's perceived price tag.
There is an obvious shortstop market this offseason and Texas will no doubt target the likes of Carlos Correa, Trevor Story and Corey Seager. With an abundance of young arms that still need to develop at the big league level and no ace, starting pitching is also a need. DFW native Clayton Kershaw’s name has been floated as a potential target, but it’ll be hard to lure him away from the Dodgers. A starter like the Mets' Marcus Stroman, who has a solid arm and can provide coverage for many innings, could be a target.
The Rangers could also do well to add one or two outfield bats. Outside of Adolis García, nobody else has proven they can contribute on a consistent basis. Texas could swing big for the likes of Nick Castellanos, but other free agent outfielders include Chris Taylor, Starling Marte and the Rangers' old friend Delino DeShields.