Pitchers and catchers report to Texas Rangers spring training on Feb. 13, but most will make their way to the Surprise Recreation Campus in Arizona ahead of the deadline.
Four weeks out, the Rangers have five starting pitchers, but need more. They have a seven-man bullpen, but need more. They can field a player at the eight other positions and designated hitter, but need more.
The good news is that the slow pace of the free-agent market has given the Rangers time and a large pool of players to consider. General manager Jon Daniels said that the Rangers will add an infielder who can play third base, bullpen help and more rotation help.
The Rangers might also add an outfielder, though they appear to have plenty of depth there.
“We’ve stayed in contact with players in a few different areas,” Daniels said last week. “We need to add to the infield. We will at some point. The bullpen’s an area where we’re looking. We could still add on the starting side as well.
One starter no longer an option is Derek Holland, who started his career with the Rangers before moving on to the Chicago White Sox in 2017 and to the San Francisco Giants in 2018 in a rebound season.
The Giants re-signed the left-hander Monday to a one-year deal worth $7 million that includes a club option after he led them in innings and posted a 3.57 ERA.
The price tag might have scared away the Rangers, who spent $30 million last month on a three-year deal for Lance Lynn but only $2 million last week on Shelby Miller’s one-year deal.
Holland said that the Rangers showed some interest before Christmas but pulled away after the holidays. Holland, though, preferred a return to San Francisco and to the National League.
Daniels said last week that the Rangers would sign a pitcher to a major-league deal, but the club will also be seeking pitchers on minor-league deals who will provide rotation depth in the minors.
Lynn and Miller would join Mike Minor, Edinson Volquez and Drew Smyly in the rotation if the Rangers don’t move Minor. The left-hander, who is in line to be the Rangers’ Opening Day starter, continues to draw interest on the trade market.
Daniels knows from experience that all teams need rotation depth, but the Rangers are dealing with three pitchers who either didn’t pitch last season or barely did – Miller, Volquez and Smyly.
Miller was the only one to log any innings, and he mustered only 16 as he had a setback in his first season after Tommy John surgery. Volquez and Smyly were rehabbing from the elbow procedure, but the Rangers are confident they will be ready at the start of spring training.
But there is always the unknown. In other words, the rotation might not be set.
“If everything goes well, we’ve got five guys with some major-league track records of success,” Daniels said. “Three of them didn’t pitch last year, coming off elbow surgery. They’re all in great spots. They all should be ready to roll, but we want to make sure we’re covered.”
The Rangers’ most glaring need on the position player side is at third base, where Adrian Beltre has retired and Jurickson Profar has been traded. Patrick Wisdom, who has 50 career at-bats, is atop the depth chart there, but at minimum the Rangers will bring in an infielder who can play there as well as across the infield.
Josh Harrison, a super utility player, has been linked to the Rangers. Mike Moustakas is the best true third baseman on the free-agent market, but he might not be the best fit as a left-handed hitter in a lefty-heavy lineup.
Joey Gallo, Daniels said, is not going to play third base despite his background there. Ronald Guzman is the front-runner to be the everyday first baseman, but the Rangers want to see him have a strong spring before committing to him.
Wisdom can also play first base. As of now, he’s a third baseman.
“He’ll get a shot to compete for a role on the club,” Daniels said. “We’re looking to add to our infield.”