Busy Rangers have 5 more things on to-do list
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have had a busy offseason to this point. It needs to get busier.
They are only halfway through the offseason calendar, but here are five things that still need to be addressed before the regular season begins.
Finish the rotation: The Rangers are off to a decent start in rebuilding their rotation by signing Lance Lynn, but they need to finish the job. Completely. Too often the Rangers fall short in the offseason of building necessary pitching depth and end up scrambling after the season starts.
Right now, the rotation consists of Lynn, Mike Minor, Edinson Volquez and Drew Smyly. Volquez and Smyly are both coming off Tommy John surgery. If both have strong years, it would be an unprecedented pitching coup for the Rangers. If one does so, the Rangers will still be ahead of a curve.
• Rangers' 2019 tickets
The Rangers need at least two more proven starters, plus additional depth at Triple-A, to keep from pushing their young pitchers too quickly as they have done way too often in the past.
Address the bullpen: Again, the Rangers are off to a decent start by signing reliever Jesse Chavez, but they have a long way to go. They only lengthened the journey by trading Alex Claudio to the Brewers.
They don't need to make it worse. Leave Jose Leclerc alone and say no when other clubs ask for him. Sure, it would be nice to get another young starter or two, but Leclerc has a chance to be a premier reliever. The Rangers will need that as much as anything when they get serious about contending again.
How about some ex-Rangers. Jake Diekman? Seems to be a great fit. Tony Barnette? Cory Gearrin? Joakim Soria? They could help. This will be another bulk shopping endeavor, but some of the Rangers' best pro scouting work has been finding undervalued relievers.
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Define the catching situation: The Rangers signed veteran catcher Jeff Mathis to a two-year deal, but the situation behind the plate is a bit murky. The Rangers have the makings of a decent catching arrangement, but Mathis, a guru at handling pitching, is 35 and hasn't started more than 73 games since 2011. Isiah Kiner-Falefa has the physical ability, but the converted infielder is a relative novice in the art of catching. Jose Trevino, the No. 26 prospect in the Rangers' organization, has highly rated defensive skills but is still working on the offensive side of his game. Jett Bandy, who has 156 games of Major League experience with the Angels and Brewers, will be in camp on a Minor League contract.
The Rangers need more catching depth. Caleb Joseph, non-tendered by the Orioles after five years in a part-time role, could help Mathis plug the hole if Kiner-Falefa and Trevino need more time.
Sign Adam Jones: Really?
Signing a 33-year-old outfielder would seem contrary to a team building around young players and with what appears to be a glut of outfielders. But Jones is a proven right-handed hitter with veteran leadership skills. He could play all three outfield positions, plus be used at designated hitter when needed. The Rangers have young and talented hitters in their lineup, but most of them swing from the left side. Jones would give them some balance.
That's probably a move that would be made by a club intending to be a contender. But that is one of the missing links in the Rangers' offensive scheme.
• Hot Stove Tracker
Anchor the battleship: Joey Gallo has played first, third and three outfield spots in his career. He has been able to move around the diamond and play different positions depending on what the Rangers' priority is at the time.
Here is a novel idea: pick one position for Gallo and make it the top priority. Decide what position Gallo will play and then build the lineup around him. Gallo is defined as a home run hitter, not a utility player.