The Texas Rangers finished the 2017 Season 4th in the AL West with a 78-84 record. In the division with the 2017 World Series Champion Houston Astros, there is definitely some work that needs to be done. The Rangers made a couple of moves during the offseason and some are more appealing than others.
While none of these free agent signings really blow you out of the water, there can be some silver lining found in each one. In order to fill out the rotation, the Rangers signed Doug Fister, Mike Minor, and traded for Matt Moore.
Doug Fister was signed to a one-year $3.5 million deal. Fister, who just turned 34 will be entering his 10th season. In his career, he has a 3.68 ERA. Although his better days were spent in the Motor City, (with one decent season in Washington), Fister’s time in Seattle, Houston, and Boston saw him recording a 4-plus ERA each season.
The Rangers signed Mike Minor to a 3-year, $28 Million deal. Minor spent 5 seasons in Atlanta before taking 2 years off due to shoulder problems. Last season he returned to action, signing with the Kansas City Royals as a reliever. He appeared in 65 games with a 2.55 ERA in 77 ⅔ IP. The Rangers intend to use him in the starting rotation unless they acquire another arm, then Minor would see some time coming out of the bullpen.
Back in December, the Rangers sent two minor leaguers to the Giants in exchange for lefty Matt Moore. Moore, who spent 5 ½ years in Tampa, was traded to the Giants during the 2016 season. Moore has struggled the past few seasons in San Francisco. Hopefully, a change of scenery will help the 28-year old get back to a better form.
What I would say is everyone’s favorite Rangers acquisition was the signing of “Big Sexy”, Bartolo Colon. Big Sexy signed a minor league deal with the Rangers in hope to win six more games to be the the leader in wins among latin-born players.
Colon has 240 wins while playing with 11 different teams. He will now suit up with his 12th team in hopes of winning just six more games. A career ERA of 4.04 is not awful, but its not that great in his 20 years in the big leagues. However, his numbers last year definitely could have a small impact on that. Last season, Colon had a 5.18 ERA in 15 starts with the Twins and a 8.14 ERA in 13 starts with Atlanta. With a team like the Rangers, Colon gives himself a chance to accomplish his goal at the age of 45.
The Rangers also made news when it broke out that they would be signing Tim Lincecum. That’s right, the 4x all-star and 2x Cy Young. Lincecum’s 2008 through 2011 seasons were by far his best, recording a sub 2.75 ERA in three of the four years. When 2012 came along, with it came a new Tim Lincecum. For the next five years, he would not record an ERA lower than 4.00.
Lincecum has battled injuries throughout his career, and after not playing during the 2017 season, Lincecum has been training in hopes to make a comeback. He will do so in the Lone Star State. The outlook is unclear for Lincecum as to where he would slot on the roster, but there are rumors he could fit in the closer role.
The Rangers have their share of rising stars and aging veterans. Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor, Delino DeShields and Nomar Mazara are all under the age of 25.
Joey Gallo is by far the biggest bat on the team. He hit 41 long balls during his first full season in the league. Although that comes with his .209 BA. Gallo also struck out 196 times. While those are clearly big concerns there is no doubt that his bat keeps him in the lineup most likely in the 3 or 4 spot.
Along with carrying a big fist, Rougned Odor carries a big bat, hitting 30 home runs last season. Odor another one of the Rangers young guns will bat around .250 and strike out nearly 160 times. But he could contribute around 30 home runs.
Speedster Delino Deshields has stolen 62 bags in his 315 games in a Rangers uniform while holding a .254/.333/.360 slash line. DeShields looks to be the opening day center fielder and, if he stays healthy the whole season, could steal 30-plus bags.
Nomar Mazara now has 2 seasons under his belt and looks to continue his success. Mazara has 40 home runs in 293 big league games while striking out only 239 times. The good thing about Mazara is that he knows how to drive in runs. He led the Rangers with 101 RBIs in 2017. With Mazara projected to hit in the 3 spot, we expect a high number of RBI’s from him.
When you look at the vets on this team, the one that stands out the most is Adrian Beltre. Last season, Beltre joined the prestigious 3,000 hit club, and, now entering his 21st season, Beltre continues to contribute at a high level. Beltre has batted above .300 in five of his seven seasons in Arlington and can hit 20-plus home runs. Beltre hits for average and can get on base which is exactly what you want from him. However, the main thing we learned from Adrian Beltre during his career is to never touch his head.
— Nic Flair (@nicwalkerrules) July 31, 2017
To round out the vets, you have Elvis Andrus, who had arguably his best season during 2017, hitting 20 home runs. We will have to see if he can repeat his home run total because he has not hit more than 10 home runs in any other season.
Then, you move over to Shin-Soo Choo, who doesn’t hit for a high average but will get you a good amount of walks. Choo had a walk rate of 12.1%. Also, when healthy, Choo is capable of hitting 20-plus home runs.
Lastly, you have Cole Hamels. Hamels’ 2017 is one to forget, registering a 4.20 ERA. During his time with the Phillies, Hamels was always one of the better pitchers in the league. Now, father time is catching up to him, as he will be entering this season at the age of 34, which will explain a slight decrease in production.
This year can go one of two ways for the Rangers. It can go really well or really bad. There is no question this team can hit, that’s not the issue.
The main problem will come from the pitching staff. Last year the Rangers boasted a 4.66 team ERA, which ranked 10th worst in the MLB. In addition, they lost Andrew Cashner to the Orioles and failed at their attempt to sign Yu Darvish. So, now, they brought in 3 new veteran pitchers in hope that they can generate something.
If this team wants to succeed, they will need Cole Hamels to return to form and for one of Matt Moore, Doug Fister, or Mike Minor to have a breakout season. However, the Rangers will ride or die on pitching and, sadly, the only team in Texas that will play October baseball plays down in Houston.
Record Prediction: 75-87
(Photo Credit: Mike Stone/Getty Images)