At the GM Meetings in Las Vegas, Rangers general manager Chris Young recently spoke with the media, including Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News, and said the club is going to explore all areas of the starting pitching market. Jon Heyman of the New York Post mentions some discussions between the Rangers and Jacob deGrom, while Jon Morosi of MLB Network also mentions deGrom, in addition to Carlos Rodon and Kodai Senga.
It’s hardly a surprise that the rotation will be a focus going forward, given that it was an obvious weakness in 2022. Texas starters posted a collective 4.63 ERA this year, placing them 25th in the majors in that regard. They got some decent work from Jon Gray and a career year from veteran Martin Perez, though Perez has now reached free agency and deprived the already-weak rotation of its strongest performer. There’s reportedly mutual interest in a reunion, with he and the club reportedly discussing multi-year pacts. But nothing has been finalized and he has now officially received a $19.65MM qualifying offer.
The club has already made one move to fortify the starting corps, acquiring Jake Odorizzi from Atlanta yesterday. Odorizzi hasn’t been great over the past three years, but he seems plenty capable of taking the ball and providing some decent innings. He had a 4.21 ERA in 2021 and a 4.40 mark in 2022 but got over 100 innings in each of those seasons and 143 in each year from 2014 to 2019.
If the Rangers and Perez can come to an agreement, he would form a solid three-headed veteran core with Gray and Odorizzi. The rotation would have a solid base but would be lacking a true ace. Perez posted a 2.89 ERA in 2022 but was at 4.38 or above in each of the previous eight seasons. Even if he has unlocked a pitch mix that leads to better results, maintaining a 6.5% HR/FB rate will be tough to do and some regression could still be in the cards. Gray dealt with some injuries this year but still made 24 starts and posted a 3.96 ERA with rate stats fairly close to his career marks. Dane Dunning could also be a factor at the back end of the rotation after he put up a 4.46 ERA over 29 starts this year. His health is a bit uncertain after his season was ended by arthroscopic hip surgery, but he can be an option if he’s healthy.
It seems the Rangers are willing to consider another bold strike to complement that group of serviceable pitchers. Last year, they showed they’re not afraid of such moves, giving Corey Seager $325MM over ten…