With pitching procured, Rangers leave Meetings eyeing more

December 7th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- As the Winter Meetings come to a close and dominoes fall across the league, the Rangers have continued to improve their club.

Texas' biggest splash came in the days before baseball’s annual gathering with the signing of Jacob deGrom to a five-year, $185 million deal, but it remained a busy week for the front office. Even with their biggest holes filled, the Rangers will no doubt continue to make moves throughout the offseason.

The Rangers made one deal in San Diego, further adding to the rotation by reportedly agreeing to a two-year deal with left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney. He’ll join a rotation now headed by deGrom, with Jon Gray, Martín Pérez and Jake Odorizzi also in the fold.

Heaney has a career 4.56 ERA as he’s struggled with injuries, but the lefty was dominant when healthy in 2022. Though he threw just 72 2/3 innings, Heaney finished with personal bests in ERA (3.10), WHIP (1.09), K/9 (13.6) and K/BB ratio (5.79) for the Dodgers.

The deal is still pending a physical, but Texas’ rotation was certainly bolstered by the addition.

1. More rotation depth
“I have said this before: I don't think we can ever have enough starting pitching,” executive vice president and general manager Chris Young said earlier in the week. “We will continue to look to improve every area of our club. We feel like there's a need. And then I think certainly every team needs more starting pitching. We're going to continue to be aggressive and diligent to make sure we put the best team out on the field for the 2023 season and beyond.”

Even with an improved staff, four of the five projected starting pitchers come with injury concerns. deGrom, Heaney, Odorizzi and Gray all spent time on the injury list in 2022, while Pérez logged 196 1/3 innings.

Young starters Dane Dunning, Cole Ragans and Glenn Otto provide depth, but it never hurts to have more veterans prepared to slot into the rotation in case of a long-term injury.

2. Left field
The Rangers' infield is set for the foreseeable future with Corey Seager and Marcus Semien up the middle, 2022 AL Silver Slugger Award winner Nathaniel Lowe at first base and top prospect Josh Jung projected to be the Opening Day third baseman.

Adolis García is the only outfielder who has proven to be an everyday big leaguer, and Leody Taveras, 24, still has some growing to do. Left field has been a revolving door for the Rangers over the past two seasons, occupied by Brad Miller, Josh Smith, Bubba Thompson and Ezequiel Duran.

“We want to continue to explore left field, see what the market is and see what the options are,” Young said. “We feel pretty good about our catching and our infield. So I think those are probably the biggest areas that we'll continue to monitor and look to improve and keep an open mind.”

With the 40-man roster full, the Rangers did not make a selection in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. However, they did lose a player, with the Tigers taking right-hander Mason Englert, the Rangers' 29th-ranked prospect. Englert, 23, made 21 starts at Single-A Hickory and three at Double-A Frisco in 2022, going 8-6 with a 3.64 ERA, allowing just 87 hits over 118 2/3 innings with 136 strikeouts.

Young has settled on the phrase “2023 and beyond” throughout the entire offseason as the Rangers continue to add players on both short- and long-term deals.

While he declined to comment on specific budget constraints (or lack thereof), it’s clear after the multiyear signings of Seager, Semien and deGrom that Texas means business for the long haul.

“[Rangers majority owner Ray Davis] has been very supportive and open to always trying to improve,” Young said. “When we do that, we have goals and objectives in terms of making sure we do it in a way that's responsible, so that when the window [to contend] opens, it's opening for a long time. And I think that's the consideration in terms of how we bring those together, bringing the short term with the medium term and the long term.”