It seems with every tweet or Facebook rant about the Rangers offseason there is one common theme: Why not Harper or Machado?
I think I have personally argued with more people on this subject than any other. The Rangers do, after all, have a lower payroll for 2019. There is plenty of room to add either player. Maybe even both. So I figured maybe we can dive in and address that question.
First of all, there is no guarantee that the Rangers are not in on both players. Most agree that signing either is unlikely, but there are a lot of factors to consider on why they are likely to pass on both. Let’s look at those.
Who says they don’t have comparable players to both that are far cheaper?
What if Patrick Wisdom turns into something? Let’s say Wisdom ends up playing 85 to 115 games at 3B. What if he hits 20 to 30 HR’s, bats .250 to .290 with an OBP of .350 or higher? Sure, that’s not Machado numbers. But he is also about $30 million cheaper. Wisdom had put up those numbers for two years in AAA. Plus, he plays primarily 3B. Machado has mentioned he wants to play SS again.
What if Joey Gallo figures out the rest of his game? We know he can hit 40 to 50 dingers. What if he raises his average 30 to 60 points? What if his strikeout rate drops? What if his walk rate increases? Harper hit .249 last year with 34 HR’s. He is looking to make $30 to $40 million a year. How is Gallo hitting .235 with 44 HR’s much different? Gallo is a tremendous athlete. He will be a far better outfielder than Mazara. Harper isn’t going to be much better than Gallo defensively.
Don’t they need pitching far more than position players right now?
Replacing position players is always easier than finding a truly great pitcher. I mean, Machado and Harper have never carried their team on their backs to the playoffs. Great teams have a lot of good players and great pitching. Having either would be fantastic for Texas. But having a true ace and strong nucleus would be better. Harper and Machado make any team better. Plus they help sell tickets. But winning trumps everything. Winning sells more tickets than one player ever will.
What could they lose by signing either one?
Well, they would lose a pick. Right now they have four of the top 50 picks in the draft. That seems arbitrary to a lot of people, but Texas is on the verge of having a top 10 system in baseball again. They have three players in the Top 100 list for MLB. That number has a very good chance of increasing as players are called up to big leagues. Most of the Rangers talent is at lower levels.
Whether you like it or not, having a strong farm system helps contending teams. It’s currency that is used to bolster rosters in a push to the playoffs. It also keeps contending teams in contention for a longer stretch of time. The Rangers want to contend every year, not just one. Well, that requires an adjustment every once in a while. Such as rebuilding from the bottom up.
What would the market do after they are both signed?
This may be the best reason Jon Daniel is holding off on both players. With JD’s focus on bolstering the pitching staff, he may want to see what happens after the Harper/Machado sweepstakes. Once Harper and Machado come off the board, there may be teams looking elsewhere for a controllable bat to bolster their offense. That could open up the Mazara, Calhoun or Gallo talks with other clubs. Mazara and Gallo would require a substantial return in pitching prospects. Maybe Choo becomes attractive to a contender.
With all of that being said, there is also the chance that both have offers from the Rangers sitting on their agents desk. But if there isn’t, it may not be the worst thing in the world. It also may not mean this team is giving up. Richard Justice wrote today about the five teams who have quietly had good off-season’s. Yep, you guessed it. Your Texas Rangers top that list.
Maybe we should all be patient.
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