The offseason acquisitions are yet to be completed thanks (or no thanks) to the CBA negotiations. Prior to the lockout though, the Texas Rangers were able to make a flurry of high-level moves. These moves have already set the tone for the 2022 season. Texas is expected to continue spending in their most expensive offseason ever once the lockout is lifted. For now, though, what can we expect from the Rangers going into the new year?
The Rangers finished 2021 with a near franchise-worst, 102 losses. They seemed a bit lost, with little major league experience or stability. Woodward and company did the best they could as coaches to pull things together. However, when some of your most experienced position players are career role players (Holt, Culberson), It can be difficult to find leadership on the field. Isiah Kinfer-Falefa and Jose Trevino were the longest holdovers for the team and even they seem like they were just brought up even though it’s been 4 years. As far as the rotation goes, you had experienced players in Jordan Lyles and Mike Foltynewicz. but they haven’t exactly been in town long and didn’t exactly set an example with their play.
Leadership has arrived
That is already going to be a thing of the past. The Rangers high-level additions that were mentioned before? Well if you haven’t heard by now, that must be a comfortable rock you’re under. Corey Seager (SS) will be in town for the next 10 years, Marcus Semien (2B) will be here for 7 and Jon gray (SP) will be here for 4 years. Barring any unlikely future trades that is. Jon Gray is coming in to be the most experienced starting pitcher on the roster. He made his debut in 2015, after being the 3rd overall pick in 2013. Gray has never quite lived up to the billing with the Rockies but he looks to set the record straight with a sort of homecoming (Gray being from Oklahoma).
As for addressing the position players? Seager is coming in as one of the most prolific free agents available and the biggest name acquired since Adrian Beltre. He is a 2x Silver Slugger, 2x All-Star, NLCS, and World Series MVP. Seager has consistently been looked at as top 5 at his position since winning the NL ROY in 2016. Marcus Semien is a seasoned vet who came up with Oakland in 2013. He recently won both the Gold Glove AND Silver Slugger in ’21 for second base. He is also a player representative for the MLBPA, has won a Heart and Hustle Award, and finished 3rd in MVP voting TWICE in the past 3 years.
It’s safe to say that the leadership and experience role has been firmly addressed this offseason. With the 4 main additions (Seager, Semien, Gray, Calhoun) the Texas Rangers have added 2727 games and 151 starts over a combined 33 years of experience.
The new guys aren’t the only reason to be excited. The Texas Rangers are bringing back some pretty important pieces that look to grow from 2021. Texas hasn’t exactly been a bastion of growth these recent years. They’ve had hopefuls Nomar Mazara, Jurikson Profar, and Rougned Odor all fail to take the next step. There is a new core to look forward to now though.
To start things off, Adolis Garcia is fresh off winning the TSN rookie of the year for 2021. He struggled a bit after making the All-Star game in his rookie year but he’ll look to right the wrongs in 2022. His stellar defense remained and he’ll remain a threat to rob home runs as well as hit them. Not to mention he’s an outfielder, a position the Rangers are sorely lacking help from.
Next, we have 1st baseman, Nathaniel Lowe. Lowe may or may not even be on the team once the lockout is lifted, given trade for A’s Matt Olson. If he stays with the good guy’s though, he’ll be highly critiqued on his growth. Nathan finally received full-time playing duties after the Tampa bay trade and he played fairly well. This is far from a make or break season from the young 1st baseman but a step in the right direction will go a long way to remain on the team
Dane Dunning and Jonah Heim are already looked at as mainstays for the roster. Jonah Heim was arguably the best defensive catcher in the big leagues. At a position where defense reigns supreme, he is elite. He could benefit from improving his numbers at the plate though. With young backstop Sam Huff pushing to get back in a Rangers uniform he’ll need to earn his stay.
Dane Dunning meanwhile looks to be a part of the rotation for years to come. Exactly where his ceiling remains to be seen. The White Sox had enough faith in him to start their wild-card game back in 2020. Dane started the year off on an incredible 3 game stretch where he pitched 15 innings only allowing 1 run. He finished with a decent 4.51 ERA over 117.2 innings. While limited due to a minor injury and a innings count in ’21, he’ll l be let loose for the 2022. He needs to improve his 1.44 WHIP though is he’s to be anything more than a solid 4/5 starter.
Rookies on the way
Finally, the Texas Rangers will be looking to crack into the 2nd most improved farm system in MLB. If all goes well, top position player Josh Jung is set to be your everyday 3rd baseman. After being taken in the first round of 2019, he has done nothing short of impress. Throughout every level of the minors, Jung has looked the part and held his own. Across 4 levels, he has hit .322/.394/.538 with 21 home runs in 122 games. He’ll be billed to fill in the spot that’s been in flux since the departure of Adrian Beltre.
The starting rotation should also see some fresh faces. 2018 1st round pick Cole Winn may start the year in AAA but isn’t expected to stay long. Winn proved to be the best pitching prospect in 2021 posting a 2.41 ERA in 21 starts (86 IP). More impressively though was his .86 WHIP and only 7 home runs allowed. His final start was in AAA where he went 5 innings allowing only 1 hit and striking out 6. If he can manage anything near that, you can expect to see him before the All-Star break.
With all these new additions, hope remains for the Texas Rangers. Expectations should be hedged though, as teams don’t typically go from 102 losses to a winning season. But with the Rangers moving to the beat of their drum for this rebuild, optimism has returned in Arlington.