The Texas Rangers offseason is in a state of limbo at the moment. With the CBA negotiations underway (or lack thereof), teams are unable to make the moves they’d like. Minor league signings are still being done but the Texas Rangers have their eyes set on much grander things.

Problems to address

Much has been discussed about what and how to address the Rangers’ needs. One of the glaring needs is the starting rotation. Texas was successful in signing one of the higher ceiling players in Jon Gray. They also have young arms in Dunning, Hearn, Otto, and Alexy. Texas also figures to call up one-time top pitching prospect Cole Winn in 2022. However, this leaves the rotation rather young, inexperienced and without a true “opening day” caliber starter.

Yes, Texas also has 1st round draft pick Jack Leiter and AFL stud Owen White waiting in the wings, but they don’t figure to see time in the bigs for a few years. So in the meantime, how do the Rangers figure to fix the problem? Well, the obvious 1st choice and continue to spend like crazy right? With guys like Clayton Kershaw, Carlos Rendon, Yusei Kikuchi, and many other capable starters that’s going to be the plan right?

Other options

Well not exactly. There are 2 teams in particular with multiple starting pitchers on the trade block. Almost all of which would come at a cheaper than market rate as well. Financially speaking that is. Texas also has a backlog of infielders stuck in the minors with the acquisitions of Seager and Semian. Some will probably try to find new positions but most are likely trade fodder. So let’s take a look at the teams and options.

Cincinnati Reds

  • Sonny Gray – 4.19 ERA/1.22 WHIP $12 million
  • Luis Castillo – 3.98 ERA/1.36 WHIP 
  • Tyler Mahle – 3.75 ERA 1.23 WHIP

Oakland Athletics

  • Frankie Montas – 3.37 ERA 1.18 WHIP
  • Sean Manea – 3.91 ERA 1.23 WHIP
  • Chris Bassitt – 3.15 ERA 1.06 WHIP

The cost

Each one comes at a different cost both financially and prospect-wise. All three of the Reds would come with 2 years of control. Castillo and Mahle are under arbitration and Gray with a team option in ’23. Gray is also under contract at $12 million, Castillo is estimated to get $7.5 million with Mahle cashing in at $5.5 million. Gray would expectedly cost far less in prospects, given the Reds are trying to cut salary and would be happy to see the $12 million go. Castillo and Mahle meanwhile would have a higher prospect demand but allow for more financial flexibility.

The three A’s pitchers would be in the same ballpark financially speaking. Manae expects to come in at the highest of the bunch, getting $9.5 million. Bassitt is close behind at $8.8 million and Montas comes in at $5.2 million. One of the key differences though is service time. All the A’s are under arbitration but both Manae and Bassitt would be 1-year rentals before they hit free agency. Montas is under team control for both ’22 and ’23 like the Reds.

Prospect Departure

The Rangers have an incredibly deep farm system leading to them being one of the most improved. They have 5 top 100 prospects, 2 on the cusp, and a handful of hopefuls that could see their stock rise even higher if they repeat 2021s production. One of the main factors though could be positions.

The Texas Rangers, as prior mentioned, signed a couple of stud middle infielders. They also have 5 of their top 10 playing shortstops of 2nd base. Now some could see a position change but others will likely be traded off. 

With the Rangers not needing 1-year rentals, Bassitt and Manae likely aren’t realistic options. Montas was also the A’s best pitcher and a burgeoning Ace so the asking price would start at a top 5 prospect (Foscue). Castillo had a down year but isn’t far behind and would also cost a king’s ransom in prospects. Assuming the Rangers would rather use their top expendable assets to acquire other assets, this leaves Mahle and Gray as the best fits.

Gray gets the nod here with the Reds’ desire to shed payroll, Rangers willingness to eat it, the familiarity and control.  We could see a deal centered around Maximo Acosta and Davis Wendzel. As I said, the Reds would like to see Gray’s contract off the books. Gray also has an unreliable career history that is injury-plagued.

The Texas Rangers will almost undoubtedly make a pitching move once the lockout is over. Free agency isn’t the only means to improve either. Whatever the step is, you can count on this rumor being there. 

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