The Texas Rangers continued their busy offseason on Tuesday night, striking a two-year deal with right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to further flesh out their rotation. The Rangers have now signed, re-signed, or traded for five veteran starters this winter: Eovaldi, Jacob deGrom, Martín Pérez, Andrew Heaney, and Jake Odorizzi. (Jon Gray, a free-agent addition last winter, remains in place.)
The Rangers are now certain to turn their attention to improving their lineup, specifically upgrading in left field and/or at designated hitter.
At present, Roster Resource projects them to trot out a starting nine that includes Josh H. Smith in left and Brad Miller at DH. That, as the kids imitating former manager Joe Girardi like to say, isn’t what you want. Smith is a converted middle infielder best known for his contact chops and defensive ability; Miller, long a reliable lefty bat, had a rough first year in Texas.
The free-agent market has been picked over, with just five top-50 hitters remaining: infielders Jean Segura and Evan Longoria, first baseman Trey Mancini, and outfielders Jurickson Profar and David Peralta. (There are some other notable names out there: Bruce Bochy’s old San Francisco pal Brandon Belt, Luke Voit, and Andrew McCutchen among them.) The Rangers, though, don’t have to turn to free agency. They can scour the trade market, possibly gaining a bat by leveraging a surprising amount of rotation depth.
All the Rangers’ moving and shaking this winter has displaced several notable pitchers. Odorizzi and Taylor Hearn, who started 24 games for the Rangers over the last two seasons, are both slated to open the year in the bullpen. Meanwhile, the team could send an assortment of youngsters to the minors, including Glenn Otto, Cole Ragans, and Spencer Howard. Those three combined to throw 44 games for the Rangers in 2022, albeit to varying successes.
That’s without mentioning Dane Dunning, who will miss significant time following hip surgery, or the assortment of previously well-regarded prospects on Texas’ farm. Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker were top-five picks the last two summers, while Cole Winn (15th) and Owen White (55th) were top picks in 2018. Those pitchers, specifically Leiter and Winn, had rough 2022 campaigns. Rocker, meanwhile, has barely pitched since the 2021 amateur draft.
So, the Rangers should have options available to them. Just who might they target? Let’s…