ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have a three-year agreement in place with right-handed pitcher Kyle Gibson, a deal that is pending a physical. The Rangers also need to make room on their 40-man roster, but the deal is expected to be officially announced later this week before the start of the Winter Meetings.
Gibson’s signing raises a few questions and leaves a few others unanswered.
Is third base still the Rangers' No. 1 priority?
Yes, and they are definitely intrigued by the possibility of trading for Yankees third baseman Miguel Andújar. He missed most of last season after undergoing right shoulder surgery and has been replaced by Gio Urshela. The Yankees would expect much in the way of a trade, but acquiring Andújar would allow the Rangers to use their financial resources elsewhere. New York needs starting pitching, but it also has an affinity for hard-throwing relievers and Texas has depth in that area.
Where does Gibson fit into the rotation?
Talent evaluators see him as a No. 4 starter, but Mike Minor came to the Rangers with a similar label and ended up at the top of the rotation. Gibson’s strengths have been his durability and his ability to get ground balls. However, he averaged 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings over the past two seasons with a four-pitch mix that includes a 93-mph fastball, curveball, slider and changeup.
That was better than Zack Greinke (8.3 strikeouts per nine innings), Masahiro Tanaka (8.20) and Minor (8.2) in the same stretch. Gibson dealt with ulcerative colitis for much of last season and that sapped his strength. If he comes in at full strength, he could have a significant impact on the rotation.
How does Gibson impact the rest of the rotation?
The Rangers still need at least one more starter. What they do at third base could impact the next starter acquisition, depending on what financial resources are needed to address that position. The obvious attractive names are Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg and Madison Bumgarner at the top of the list with Zack Wheeler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Cole Hamels and Dallas Keuchel in the second tier.
Who gets dropped from the 40-man roster to make room for Gibson?
Monday is the non-tender date. The Rangers could non-tender a player and make him a free agent, then re-sign him to a Minor League contract. The Rangers pulled that gambit with pitcher Adrian Sampson last winter at this time. The candidates this time around include pitchers Luke Farrell, Jeffrey Springs, Wei-Chieh Huang and Ian Gibaut.
Will there be a significant non-tender on Monday?
DeShields would seem the most vulnerable, but he shouldn’t break the bank through arbitration, and he is the Rangers' best defensive center fielder. He is also their best speed weapon offensively. The big question is if the Rangers still see him as a possible everyday player or a fourth outfielder at best.
What has been most significant so far in the free-agent market?