Rangers preparing to spend like a big-market team. Will big free agents buy what they are selling?
(AP photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Things are happening with the Texas Rangers. Good things. And they’re going to keep happening, in a state-of-the-art ballpark and with an ownership group prepared to spend fair market value.
That’s according to Jon Daniels, president of baseball operations, and that’s what free agents can expect to hear this offseason when the Rangers begin pursuing them.
The pursuit of players, specifically top-tier free agents, was the main topic of conversation Wednesday as Daniels, general manager Chris Young and manager Chris Woodward looked forward from the 102-loss season.
Or, as it was frequently coined, the 60-win season.
A ballplayer will see through that line, and also know when a team is trying to low ball him on a contract. Daniels said the Rangers won’t be only bargain hunters this offseason, with owners committed to backing baseball ops with cash.
That potentially/probably/almost certainly means nine-figure contracts being added to the payroll.
Three days after the regular season, talk is cheap. Seeing will be believing this offseason.
So, just how are the Rangers going land the big free-agent fish?
“We’re not looking for discounts,” Daniels said. “We’re going to have to pay market dollars to get top players, and we’re prepared to do so. I think from a standpoint of winning, we’re understanding of where we’re at. Sixty wins, you’re not going to make up 30 or 40 in one offseason.
“But we have one of the better farm systems, we have the third pick in the country and then the draft dollars associated with that, we have ownership commitment to spend dollars for a number of years — things that to a player, I believe, speaks to a chance to win for a sustained period of time. And as we look to bring players on multi-year deals, I believe that’s going to be important to them.”
Young didn’t make any predictions on how the 2022 Rangers would fare because of the unknowns facing the team in free agency. But Young also said that the Rangers have several different ways they could go in terms of the level of players they acquire and the positions they believe need upgrading.
The Rangers will meet as a front-office staff in two weeks for their annual pro scouting meetings, where they will comb through their own roster before identifying players available via free agency and trade.
Help is on the way from the minors, with third baseman Josh Jung seemingly ready for the majors, but prospects probably aren’t going to be All-Stars upon arrival. The Rangers will consider prospects who are coming when weighing where to be buyers, but won’t be deterred if a free agent would upgrade a position immediately.
The general thought is the Rangers will improve in 2022, if for no other reason than it would be difficult to do worse, but also because they have designs on adding to an internal group that will have more experience.
“I don’t think we’re limiting ourselves in terms of ways to upgrade our roster,” Young said. “I think that we have needs everywhere, and we’re focused and committed to exploring every possible way to improve our big-league club and do it in a manner that is still disciplined and consistent with our long-term vision here of creating a long-term championship window. So, really, there are no limitations at this point.”
The only limitation is the reality that top free agents might not want to sign with the Rangers. The best players, for the most part, have been on winning teams and might not want to surrender the chance to win for a team that just lost 102 games.
The Rangers’ farm system is deeper and more talented. Globe Life Field and the home clubhouse, which media toured for the first time Wednesday, are definite selling points.
Maybe it takes an extra year on a deal or an extra $10 million to soften the blow of losing in 2022.
Money can cure a lot of things. The Rangers say their are willing to spend as a club in a market the size of DFW should.
But is any free agent going to buy their sales pitch?
“This is not a one-offseason quick fix,” Daniels said. “We’re not looking to sign one player to be the finishing piece on a club that obviously struggled this year. But we’re looking for players that can be part of helping to turn this around and really launch us to where we want to go.”
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org