With the non-waiver trade deadline in the rearview mirror and the Rangers slowly drifting deeper and deeper into the wild-card standings, it is clear the roster Jon Daniels has crafted contains many holes. If Texas is unable to make the 2017 postseason, a very active off-season will be demanded from Ranger Nation, which of course, must begin with an effective free agency period.
This upcoming free agency class has been regarded as a relatively average group, but that’s not to say there aren’t players out there who could potentially fulfill the needs of the Rangers. Headlined by J.D Martinez and Lorenzo Cain, this class is considered outfield-heavy, a position at which Texas is not an immediate need of. But when you take a look at the starters and relievers potentially available come free agency, it it is easy to see why General Manager Jon Daniels believes this team can retool the pitching staff for 2018.
Yu Darvish – SP
The most obvious target on this list, Jon Daniels will definitely push to bring Darvish back to Arlington after trading him at the deadline for prospects, similar to what the Yankees achieved with Aroldis Chapman. Re-signing Darvish would be a large step into making the Rangers a competitive team in 2018, although it won’t be cheap.
Jeremy Hellickson – SP
After a resurgent 2016 campaign in Philadelphia, Hellickson has not experienced the same success in 2017, but still provides a good back-end of the rotation type production. The 30-year old presents a cheap option at a position the Rangers must improve at, and Jon Daniels may be betting on the coaching staff’s ability to get the best out of an aging arm.
Chris Tillman – SP
Another righty, Chris Tillman has a long track record of success in the big leagues, making the All-Star game in 2013. However, Tillman has been a shell of himself in 2017, as the Orioles finally moved him to the bullpen after allowing 60 earned runs in 15 starts. Tillman will be a cheap option on the market, similar to Hellickson, and will be able to produce at an average level as the fifth starter, assuming Tillman’s move to the bullpen isn’t permanent.
Jake McGee – RP
After struggling in 2016, his first season as a Rockie, Jake McGee has returned to what he was in Tampa Bay, posting an ERA sitting at 3.05. McGee may be a bit pricey, but Jon Daniels will do all he can to ensure the bullpen doesn’t implode as it did this season.
Tony Watson – RP
Watson was acquired by the Dodgers at the deadline, ending his 7-year tenure as a Pirate, a place where he became a premier reliever. However, Watson hasn’t been able to return to his All-Star form from 2013-2015, posting an ERA above 3.00 in ’16 and ’17. Adding a veteran like Watson who is still productive would be vital to retooling the bullpen, although it may not be cheap, given his track record.
Luke Gregerson – RP
Gregerson has spent the last 3 seasons with in-state rival Houston, where he has been solid, but below his prior performance with Oakland and San Diego. His recent struggles suggest age may be catching up to him, but at a reasonable price, Gregerson could make a big impact in Arlington.