Friday newsletter time: Good news for Rangers, Jonah Heim on the injury front
(AP photo/Quinn Harris)
Jonah Heim was injured in late July, and the Rangers were concerned that their All-Star catcher might miss the rest of the season.
Surgery was on the table, though Heim and the team wanted to give his left wrist injury a chance to heal. Even when Heim returned much sooner than anyone expected in August, offseason surgery became an option.
Sometimes the specialists get it wrong.
Heim will not undergo surgery, will not be impeded this offseason and will be a full participant when spring training opens in February, general manager Chris Young said.
The Rangers did get a reinforcement at the traded deadline just in case, Austin Hedges. He made a significant impact in the postseason with his bottom. They will likely add a catcher on a non-roster deal, but Sam Huff could be in line for the first Opening Day roster of his career.
Young made it sound as if the Rangers haven’t closed the door on a Mitch Garver return, though he might do better elsewhere as a first-time free agent.
That might have been different had Heim needed surgery.
The Rangers are also keeping tabs on Adolis Garcia (oblique) and Max Scherzer (back), who were both injured in Game 3 of the World Series. There seems to be minimal concern about their availability for spring training, and they aren’t missing much now.
Considering how long the Rangers played this year, everyone is still in rest and recovery mode.
The potential that the Rangers aren’t paid their $100 million-plus rights fee in 2024 by Diamond Sports Group, the deadbeat dads of baseball broadcasters, is not an insignificant problem, and it is potentially steering the Rangers’ offseason plans.
Having listened to Young on Thursday, though, I’m not sure the Rangers ever had plans to spend exorbitantly. The luxury-tax threshold of $237 million is a real thing and perhaps a bigger deal in the short term than the TV rights fee. The Rangers’ payroll is already above $200 million.
The Rangers need to spend a chunk on a starting pitcher, but they’ve never really spent on bullpen help or bench pieces. They might find a reliever in the same mold as Will Smith, who signed on the cheap last spring, and a hitter in the same mold as Robbie Grossman, who also signed on the cheap last spring.
When Young says “shore up the roster,” those are the kind of players the Rangers might be considering. They have a really solid returning group, minus Garver. The farm system needs to help. Huff can replace Garver, and Justin Foscue, Blaine Crim, Dustin Harris or Wyatt Langford can get at-bats at designated hitter.
The Rangers have several young bullpen arms that will get a chance.
At this point, it looks as if one starting pitcher, say, Jordan Montgomery, might be their big splurge … unless owner Ray Davis is OK with paying a luxury-tax penalty for the second straight season.
Card of the Week
As the Rangers consider all avenues for improving the club this offseason, some of their past trades have come to mind. One of them was a deadline deal in 2016 for veteran hitter Carlos Beltran.
The deal didn’t really work out for the Rangers or the Yankees. Beltran was a fairly pedestrian hitter, and the Rangers fizzled out of the playoffs in a three-game sweep. The three minor-league pitchers they traded never pitched for the Yankees.
That includes Dillon Tate, who was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 draft. The Rangers will freely admit that the pick was an airball, and apparently realized it within a year of selecting him.
Who is Tate? Well, for one, his 2015 Bowman Best auto rookie is the Card of the Week.
It’s interesting to look at the Rangers’ first overall picks since Tate. Cole Ragans started things off in 2016, followed by Bubba Thompson, Cole Winn, Josh Jung, Foscue, Jack Leiter, Kumar Rocker and Langford.
Seven of the nine are college players, as Tate was, and three have reached the majors. The hope is that Winn, Foscue, Leiter and Langford do so this season.
Every club needs a healthy farm system, and Young said Thursday that the Rangers aren’t just going to give away young talent in a trade. They need the farm system to provide more help than it did last season.
As for Tate, he has pitched in the majors as a reliever, though not last season as he dealt with an injury. He’s been OK, too, with a 3.97 ERA in 157 appearances.
The best of the group is another right-hander, Erik Swanson. He throws hard, throws strikes and has posted ERAs of 1.68 (Seattle) and 2.97 (Toronto) the past two seasons.
Swanson was an eighth-round pick in the 2014 draft. Maybe the Rangers can figure out a way to get him back.
Hey, it’s better footware than his dorky owner. Enjoy.
— out of context dogs (@contextdogs) November 30, 2023
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org