The Texas Rangers have more holes to plug this off-season than they’ve had in at least the past five, and general manager Jon Daniels claims that he will be doing so with less money than he had to spend last season.
That doesn’t sound like a winning formula, yet Daniels expects the Rangers to win. He even told that to Adrian Beltre, so it better be true.
The Rangers, Daniels says, can play at the top of the market if they decide that’s the way to go. Their payroll will still rank in the top 10 or 12 in MLB. At the very least, they will have the money to “maneuver.”
Something isn’t adding up.
But it does to Daniels, who doesn’t see the projected Opening Day payroll as an obstacle. Maybe there’s some fuzzy math involved here, which is entirely possible as clubs’ ledgers don’t always add up with the outlets and websites that do their own calculations.
Here are some numbers from the web:
The Rangers’ Opening Day payroll in 2016 was around $159 million, though one website had them at $149 million, and it finished around $168 million.
They opened 2017 anywhere from $165 million to $175 million, and one website had them finishing the season at $185 million.
Daniels said that the reduction for 2018 is due to no longer having a one-time $25 million infusion that ownership provided before last season to allow the Rangers to keep from trading away more prospects from a thin system to acquire players.
It’s not the result of ownership trying to account for lost revenue from an attendance decline of 200,000, Daniels said, or trying to shift money from the payroll to construction costs for Globe Life Field.
Nevertheless, it’s still a hazy number. Since the Rangers don’t reveal their budget, $150 million for 2018 seems like as good a guess as any. If so, they have some $40 million-$50 million to spend this off-season.
That sounds like plenty, but might not go very far considering what the Rangers need to do. Unless they do free agency on the cheap.
Shohei Ohtani would be cheap. Yu Darvish would not be. Andrew Cashner might not be.
Alex Cobb likely is. Lance Lynn probably is. Miles Mikolas, a Rangers experiment in 2014 who has become a star in Japan, definitely is.
The Rangers will also have their trade targets lined up after their pro scouting meetings wrap Friday. Those pitchers, with Cole Hamels an obvious exception, can come at a smaller hit to the budget than free agents.
One of the three rotation vacancies will have to come internally or by hitting on a (cheap) non-roster invitee to spring training.
And that’s just starting pitching. The bullpen needs to be upgraded. The Rangers could go outside the organization for a center fielder or a left fielder.
The costs for closers and veteran set-up men have soared recently. The Rangers can’t play on Lorenzo Cain or Carlos Gomez unless their prices come down. Way down.
If the Miami Marlins are making players available in an effort to shed salary, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna would be good fits in left field. But they would still add to the Rangers’ payroll, whatever it is.
All that is known is that the payroll won’t be what it was in 2017 ahead of an off-season in which the Rangers have major work to do.
Something isn’t adding up.