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Offseason checklist: Rangers’ needs and moves

January 19, 2020

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers finished their third straight losing season, with a record of 78-84. They have not been to the postseason since winning back-to-back American League West Division titles in 2015 and '16. Manager Chris Woodward said that the Rangers' goal in 2020 is to win a championship as

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers finished their third straight losing season, with a record of 78-84. They have not been to the postseason since winning back-to-back American League West Division titles in 2015 and '16.

Manager Chris Woodward said that the Rangers' goal in 2020 is to win a championship as they move into a new ballpark.

So what are the Rangers' biggest needs entering next season, and what moves have they made to address them? is keeping track here. As the offseason continues, be sure to check back for updates.


Starting pitching
The Rangers' offseason priority was to build a rotation around left-hander Mike Minor and right-hander Lance Lynn. They landed a frontline starter, right-hander Corey Kluber, in a trade with the Indians, and rounded out the rotation by signing free-agent right-handers Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles. They have three young left-handers they like in Brock Burke, Joe Palumbo and Kolby Allard, but the club isn't sure if anyone in that trio is ready to open the season in the rotation. Texas is also unsure whether right-handers Jonathan Hernandez and Ariel Jurado and left-hander Yohander Méndez are better suited for the rotation or the bullpen.

Third base
This was the Rangers' biggest offensive need going into the offseason, and they addressed it by agreeing to a deal with Todd Frazier. There is still a possibility they could continue their pursuit of Nolan Arenado in a trade with the Rockies, but that appears more unlikely now that the Rangers have landed Frazier. With Frazier on board, Nick Solak and Isiah Kiner-Falefa will likely compete for a spot as a utility player.

First base
The Rangers are looking for an upgrade at first base and are in active discussions with agent Scott Boras about right-handed slugger Nicholas Castellanos. The Rangers want a right-handed bat to balance their lineup and feel Castellanos would be an upgrade at first base over Ronald Guzmán even though he has never played the position before. First base has become a priority over center field; the Rangers are content with Danny Santana as their center fielder.


Jan. 15: Travis acquired for Springs

The Rangers acquired 1B/OF Sam Travis from the Red Sox for left-handed reliever Jeffrey Springs. Travis has played in parts of the last three seasons with the Red Sox, with a career average of .230, seven home runs, 24 RBIs and a .371 slugging percentage over 111 games.

The Rangers acquired the right-handed-hitting Travis because he has shown power in the Minor Leagues. He is not on the 40-man roster, but he will get an invitation to big league camp with a chance to compete for a spot. During his Minor League career, Travis has a .325 batting average, a .391 on-base percentage and a .528 slugging percentage against left-handed pitching.

Jan. 15: Frazier signs one-year deal
The Rangers addressed their third-base needs by agreeing to a one-year deal with Todd Frazier. Frazier will get $5 million guaranteed from Texas. He’ll get $3.5 million in 2020, with a $5.75 million club option for 2021 (or a $1.5 million buyout). Frazier is a nine-year veteran and a two-time All-Star third baseman with the Reds in 2014-15. He spent last season with the Mets and hit .251 with 21 home runs and 67 RBIs in 133 games. He had a .329 on-base percentage and a .443 slugging percentage.

Jan. 15: Chirinos coming back to Rangers
The Rangers signed catcher Robinson Chirinos to a one-year contract with a club option for 2021. He enters a catching situation that already includes Jeff Mathis and Jose Trevino. The deal is reportedly worth $5.75 million, with the option worth $6.5 million with a $1 million buyout.

Chirinos will likely be the Rangers' No. 1 catcher, leaving the club with two options for the No. 2 spot. They could go with Mathis as the backup and give Trevino more development time at Triple-A. They could also go with Trevino and cut ties with Mathis, who is signed this season for $3 million. The Rangers won’t make that decision until Spring Training if they are able to complete a deal with Chirinos.

Dec. 21: Garcia acquired from the Cardinals
The Rangers acquired 26-year-old outfielder Adolis García from the Cardinals on Saturday in exchange for cash considerations, and right-hander Jimmy Herget was designated for assignment.

García had a .253/.301/.517 slash line with 32 home runs in 132 games for Triple-A Memphis last season and was designated for assignment on Dec. 18. He made his Major League debut in 2018, going 2-for-17 in 21 games for St. Louis. He did not appear in the Majors in '19 and retains his rookie status.

Dec. 19: Volquez, Gibaut, Federowicz get Minor League deals
The Rangers agreed to terms with pitchers Edinson Vólquez and Ian Gibaut and catcher Tim Federowicz on Minor League contracts with an invitation to Spring Training.

Vólquez, 36, was planning to retire but changed his mind after he pitched in relief for the Rangers in September and was hitting 95 mph on the radar gun. He will come to camp competing for a spot as a right-handed setup reliever. Gibaut, another hard-throwing righty, will also compete for a role in the bullpen. Federowicz gives the Rangers more depth at catching, as he did last season. He is an eight-year veteran.

Dec. 16: Rangers add lefty Rodríguez
Left-handed reliever Joely Rodríguez signed a two-year contract with a club option for 2022. Texas also announced a series of Minor League deals, including bringing back right-hander Matt Bush on a two-year Minor League contract and signing utility player Blake Swihart to a Minors deal with an invitation to Major League Spring Training. Texas also signed right-handers Tim Dillard and Arturo Reyes, and left-hander Brian Flynn to Minor League contracts with invitations to Major League Spring Training.

The 28-year-old Rodríguez pitched in Japan the last two seasons after two MLB seasons with the Phillies (2016-17). With the Chunichi Dragons in 2019, he had a 1.64 ERA in 64 appearances.

Dec. 15: Rangers trade two for Kluber
The Rangers acquired right-hander Corey Kluber, who won the American League Cy Young Award in 2014 and '17, from the Indians for outfielder Delino DeShields and reliever Emmanuel Clase. Kluber missed most of last season with a fractured ulna bone in his right arm after getting hit by a line drive on May 1. He was close to returning in August but was set back by a strained oblique muscle. If healthy, Kluber could fit at the top of the Rangers rotation.

Dec. 13: Free-agent starter Lyles heads to Texas
Right-hander Jordan Lyles was 27-46 with a 5.28 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP over 115 starts through the first eight years of his career. But he was 7-1 with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP after joining the Brewers in July. That's the pitcher the Rangers are hoping to get after signing Lyles to a two-year, $16 million contract.

Dec. 10: Rangers land prospect, send Mazara to White Sox
The Rangers traded outfielder Nomar Mazara to the White Sox for center-field prospect Steele Walker. The move opens up the Rangers' outfield for Joey Gallo to play in right and Willie Calhoun in left. Mazara's apex with the Rangers came in his second season (2017) when he finished with 100 RBIs. But he didn't build off that and instead hit just .268 with 19 home runs, 66 RBIs and a .469 slugging percentage in 2019.

Dec. 5: Rangers sign three to Minor League contracts
The Rangers re-signed right-handed pitcher Wei-Chieh Huang to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. The Rangers had made him a free agent by non-tendering him. The Rangers also reached agreements with infielder/outfielder Rob Refsnyder and catcher Nick Ciuffo on Minor League deals that include invitations to big league camp.

Dec. 2: Goody, Herget added to bullpen mix
The Rangers claimed right-handed reliever Jimmy Herget off waivers from the Reds and secured the services of right-hander Nick Goody, adding two more arms to the bullpen competition.

Herget is a submarine-style pitcher with a 93-mph fastball and a slider as his secondary pitch. He pitched 6 1/3 innings over five outings for the Reds last season and allowed three runs on eight hits and three walks without striking out a batter.

He made 48 appearances at Triple-A Louisville in 2019 and was 3-4 with a 2.91 ERA, a 1.31 WHIP and two saves. Right-handed batters hit .196 off him at Louisville, while lefties hit .189.

Goody, claimed off waivers from the Indians on Nov. 27, accepted the assignment and agreed to a one-year, $915,000 contract for 2020 that avoids arbitration.

Goody, 28, began last season at Triple-A Columbus and was called up on June 5 after posting a 1.69 ERA in his final eight appearances for the Clippers. He pitched in 39 games for the Indians and was 3-2 with a 3.54 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP.

The Rangers made room on their 40-man roster by non-tendering left-hander Jeffrey Springs and right-handers Wei-Chieh Huang and Ian Gibaut. All three had short stints with the Rangers last season and could be re-signed to Minor League contracts.

Nov. 27: Right-hander Gibson agrees to three-year contract
The Rangers added another veteran starter for their rotation by agreeing to a three-year contract with right-hander Kyle Gibson. He fits into the rotation as either a No. 3 or 4 starter behind Lance Lynn and Mike Minor.

Gibson went 13-7 with a 4.84 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP in 29 starts and five relief appearances for the Twins this past season on a team that won the American League Central title. He proved to be a durable starter for the Twins over the past six seasons. His 178 starts since the beginning of 2014 are the 11th most among Major League pitchers over that stretch.

Gibson has a four-pitch mix led by a sinking fastball that averages 93.3 mph. He also throws a slider, curveball and changeup. With the ground ball as his forte, he forced a ground ball 51.4 percent of the time last season, which was second highest in the American League for pitchers with at least 160 innings pitched.

Oct. 31: Castillo, bonus money acquired; options declined on Kelley, Jones; Granite, Biddle outrighted
The Rangers acquired catcher Welington Castillo and $250,000 in international slot bonus money from the White Sox for Minor League infielder Jonah McReynolds. Texas made the deal to acquire the bonus-money slot. The club then declined an $8 million option on Castillo and pay a $500,000 buyout. This deal was all about getting the bonus money.

The Rangers also decided not to pick up reliever Shawn Kelley’s $2.5 million contract. Instead, they will pay a $250,000 buyout. Kelley pitched in 50 games for Texas this past season, and he went 5-2 with 11 saves, a 4.94 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP. He had a 3.09 ERA before the All-Star break, but he posted an 8.80 ERA in the second half while spending time on the injured list with a sore right bicep muscle.

Additionally, the Rangers declined a $3.75 million option on reliever Nate Jones. He was acquired from the White Sox at the Trade Deadline while he was on the injured list recovering from right elbow surgery. That deal was also made to acquire additional international slot bonus money.

Outfielder Zack Granite and left-handed reliever Jesse Biddle were taken off the 40-man roster and outrighted to Triple-A Nashville. Both are expected to become Minor League free agents.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.