The expiration of the CBA between MLB and the MLBPA looms ahead, which would bring with it a work stoppage and shutting down the sizzling Hot Stove.
The deal ends at 11:59 on Wednesday, December 1st.
Teams would also need to have the physical of signed players done before this time. Meaning, for all intents and purposes, Tuesday will be the last day to sign players. Following the expiration, there would be a total work stoppage across the board: no negotiations, no deals, and no more of those fun rumors.
The Texas Rangers were able to pull off some MASSIVE deals before they entered the cold, bleak winter. They started with a surprise in signing Marcus Semien to a 7-year deal. On the same day, they inked starting pitcher Jon Gray and outfielder Kole Calhoun. To finish off their flurry of deals in grand fashion, they signed Corey Seager to the largest contract in franchise history, coming in at 10 years for $325 million.
To recap the signings:
- Corey Seager, SS- 10 years/$325 million
- Marcus Semien, 2B – 7 years/ $175 million
- Jon Gray, SP – 4 years/ $56 million
- Kole Calhoun, OF – 1 year/ $5.2 million
Take a look at the Rangers roster, and when constructing a lineup, you can begin to see where the needs remain. Currently, the starting rotation comprises Jon Gray, Dane Dunning, Taylor Hearn, and Spencer Howard. That still leaves a fifth spot left open. Kolby Allard could step into that role, given he is the most experienced remaining option and he’s only 24. However, the experience he has is likely to prevent him from getting a role. He’s more suited for long relief or spot starts. Glenn Otto and AJ Alexy were exciting young players to come up at the tail end of the ’21 season and had positive starts. But they may want to keep them in the minors in case the Hearn/Howard experiments fail.
What the rotation could benefit from is an established front-end starter. That’s where Clayton Kershaw or Marcus Stroman comes into play. Kershaw is currently the apple in the eye of Rangers fans. He is already a Cy Young award winner, MVP, World Series Champ, and consensus hall of Famer. One more title he could add is a hometown hero. Kershaw, being from the DFW metroplex, would come in and instantly be the leader of the rotation. He could help guide the young starters and lead by example. Stroman, meanwhile, would fill a different role. Marcus would be looked at to be one of the best pitchers in the game right away. Not that Kershaw wouldn’t, but the expectation for Stroman would be higher. In ’21, he posted a 3.02 ERA over 179 innings. That compares to Rangers inning leader Jordan Lyles who posted a 5.15 ERA in 180 innings. Stroman has been a consistently above-average starter throughout his career and could be on the verge of multiple All-Star game appearances.
Now it’s time to look at the lineup. Catcher and First base are set with incumbents Jose Trevino/Jonah Heim and Nathaniel Lowe respectfully. Second and Short are covered with the newly acquired Semien and Seager. The third base is expected to be filled by top-hitting prospect Josh Jung but can be held by Andy Ibanez or other internal options until he’s ready.
That leaves us with the outfielders Adolis Garcia, Kole Calhoun, and either Leody Taveras/DJ Peters as the starters.
Eli White is a strong contender, while Willie Calhoun is capable of operating an OF spot as well. Then there is the ex-LA Dodgers duo of Billy McKinney and Zach Reks. It remains to be seen exactly who survives the expected roster cuts but regardless, it is an uninspiring group. Adolis Garcia is the only one in the group to have earned a spot on the opening day roster, and even he may not be seen as an everyday starter if he continues his post-All-Star game trend.
The free-agent market has some intriguing names left as well. Nick Castellanos, Michael Conforto, and Kyle Schwarber are the top names available. It is unlikely The Rangers sign a third player who was offered a QO (but never say never), so that takes out Castellanos and Conforto. The secondary market has some household names as well. Andrew McCutchen, Tommy Pham, and Corey Dickerson could be considered but haven’t exactly been the players that made them once-popular stars. Jonathan Villar, Kevin Pillar, Billy Hamilton, and Mike Tauchman are available as well but wouldn’t represent much of an upgrade over the current players.
Then there is Seiya Suzuki. Suzuki is the most prominent player coming over from Japan this year. The 27-year-olds numbers have been a strong year in and year old, but he set a new bar this year, posting a 1.075 OPS made possible by slugging .640 following his career-high 38 home runs in 2021. He’s also hit for a .300 average or better every year since 2015. He’ll likely command a 4-year deal worth $11-13 million per, making it an affordable contract.
Now, the Texas Rangers have just set the record in money spent during one offseason at $561.2 million. And they aren’t expected to be done either.
Precisely what they have left in store remains to be seen. Undoubtedly there will also be trades made to either free up 40 man roster spots or address positions of need.
The Rangers don’t HAVE to sign anyone else for this to be considered a successful offseason, but it is expected they will, and these are some names to keep an eye on as they progress forward.