The Rangers club has on several occasions suggested that the club expects to operate in free agency this winter, and indeed it appears the property is prepared to make some off-season expenses. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Rangers can add $100MM+ to their payroll this off-season.
That kind of off-season would certainly be atypical for a club finishing back-to-back last places in the AL West. However, Texas clearly has plans to push their conflict window forward. The current squad probably has too many holes for the Rangers to compete for a playoff spot next season. But adding one or more marquee players to multi-year deals could make a 2023 window more realistic, and this season’s free agent class has plenty of potential old-age targets. Indeed, that seems to be the front office thinking process when projecting an active off-season.
“I don’t think we expect to just come out next season and be contenders for the World Series” general manager Chris Young told reporters (including Kennedi Landry of MLB.com). “That said, we expect that this year we will take big steps from where we were and continue to build on this so that by 2023 we are in a very good position to compete for the division and have the opportunity to make the playoffs and possible to win. World series.”
As the Rangers stripped down the roster in recent seasons, the team’s spending has taken a corresponding nosedive. Texas has opened seasons in the past with a payroll north of $165MM according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, but Roster Resource’s Jason Martinez currently projects their 2022 financial commitments around just $51MM (including arbitration projections). Last month, the president of baseball operations Jon Daniels indicated that the club would increase spending in the coming offseasons. Daniels was intentionally vague about exactly how much money the team could allocate each winter, but it seems there’s a chance Texas will make multiple major additions and get close to franchise record levels this winter alone.
The Rangers have very few players locked into the roster, giving Daniels, Young and the rest of the front office plenty of opportunities to explore. This year’s free agent class features a handful of franchise shortstops, including a resident of the Dallas area Trevor Story — as well as a strong group of corner outfielders. One of the youngest players on the market is the 27-year-old Japanese star Seiya Suzuki. Suzuki’s NPB team, the Hiroshima Carp, is expected to make it available through the secondment process.
Executives from other clubs see the Rangers as one of the most suitable candidates to land Suzuki. belongs Jon Morosi of MLB.com. Between the star outfielder’s youth and Texas pay space, it’s a pretty easy connection to draw. Suzuki is coming off a massive .319/.436/.644 with over 530 at bats, and some reviewers think he could step right into MLB as an above-average everyday rightfielder. If the Rangers’ scouting division shares that level of optimism, then a hunt for Suzuki makes sense. MLBTR expects the right-handed batter to be given a $55MM five-year contract, with an additional $10.125MM booking fee to be paid to the Carp.
Story and Suzuki are just two of many options for the Rangers, who seem likely to be linked with impact players throughout the offseason. Because Texas may have as much salary flexibility and want to add talent as anyone else, it could turn into a winter of big chases in Arlington.