There are fewer than 20 games left in the 2022 season, and the Rangers sit at third in the American League West and almost 20 games under .500. It’s not exactly the season Texas expected after the blockbuster spending spree last winter, but it’s still a noted improvement over the 102-loss season in 2021.
It has been quite a while since we were able to do an Inbox, so here’s a look at some of your questions as we head down the final stretch of the season.
How much of the pitching rotation do you think we plan to build internally? Do we get someone in FA for the rotation? -- @NotCharles2 on Twitter
Pitching has been a glaringly obvious black hole in this lineup for a long while, especially starters. Are there any pitchers (especially starters) you think the Rangers have a realistic shot at? -- @jvantionio on Twitter
As far as the rest of the rotation, it’ll likely be a combination of internal fills and external additions. After Pérez and Jon Gray, the other starters in the rotation this year have been Dane Dunning (88 ERA+), Glenn Otto (84 ERA+), Spencer Howard (54 ERA+) and Cole Ragans (71 ERA+). Of those four, Dunning has the best shot at opening the 2023 season in the rotation, but Ragans is still working with rookie eligibility and has lots of room to grow.
As far as free agency goes, Clayton Kershaw will no doubt be at the top of the Rangers’ wish list once again, but Carlos Rodón has an opt-out in his contract and should be in the conversation as well. Another DFW native in Noah Syndergaard will also be a free agent again, and he would be an upgrade in the middle of Texas’ rotation.
Here’s a full list of possible free agents this coming winter.
It also stands to reason that the Rangers will try to fill in these holes via trade instead of free agency because of the plethora of middle-infield prospects now blocked at the big league level for the next 7-10 years.
Is the co-pitching coaches really working for the Rangers? I know Rome wasn’t built in a day, but something has to give here. Too many strikes left in the middle of the plate. Especially on the one run games. -- @BlaineHalencak on Twitter
I know it’s hard to ignore some of the glaring issues with the pitching staff right now, but I don’t think having two pitching coaches as opposed to one changes any of those issues. It’s a big job, and Doug Mathis and Brendan Sagara split the duties, much like how most teams have multiple hitting coaches.
And when talking about Mathis and Sagara, it is hard to ignore the very clear development they’ve had by turning more veteran pitchers into All-Stars, like Kyle Gibson and Pérez.
In the two years that the Rangers have utilized the co-pitching coaches strategy, they’ve had a number of young pitchers come through the big league club. Young pitchers often have trouble throwing quality strikes, regardless of organization.
What are some corner outfielders that will be available in FA that are realistic signings? -- @WoolCorp on Twitter
Seeing as our lineup/offense is solid (with marked improvement over the final stretch of the season), are there any offensive improvements you'd make? Pick up a better quality 3B? OF? -- @jvantonio on Twitter
Combined these two questions again because I think a corner bat is the only true need on the offensive end this coming winter. You can never have too many good players, so I can only assume the front office will try to upgrade everywhere they can. But with pitching being the main focus, I wouldn’t expect too much more with the infield seemingly set for the foreseeable future.
The most notable free agent outfielders are Aaron Judge (obviously), Joey Gallo (heard of him before?), Andrew Benintendi, Joc Pederson and a number of others.
Realistically, the Rangers probably have a shot to sign any of these guys except Judge, whose market value would push Texas' payroll well over a billion dollars. Jokes aside, ownership has shown a commitment to spending money, and the front office under Chris Young has been aggressive in its pursuits, so one or two offensive adds wouldn’t be a shock.
Any chance Seager works with Ron Washington during the off-season to improve his defense? -- @ridersfan06 on Twitter
While I doubt Corey Seager will be working with Washington, who is a coach with the Braves, there’s no doubt that everybody -- Seager included -- knows he needs to be better defensively once this team starts competing.
For reference, entering Saturday, Seager is tied for second in MLB with 17 fielding errors committed and ranks 103rd in outs above average per Statcast.
Defense has always been Seager’s worst phase of the game, and there are no current plans to shuffle the infield as currently configured, but something’s gotta give defensively. He’s still a valuable player despite his defensive downfalls (third on the Rangers in WAR at 3.5, per Baseball Reference), so we can only imagine just how much better that can get.