The Rangers, up first this year in MLBTR’s annual Offseason Outlook series, will head into the offseason on the heels of a second straight last-place campaign. Texas will be hard-pressed to compete in 2022, but the front office has offered indications they’ll set out to put some pieces of the next contending Rangers’ club in place nevertheless.
Total 2022 commitments: $26.9MM
Projected Salaries for Arbitration-Eligible Players (projections via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)
Non-tender candidates: Calhoun, Cotton, Guzmán, Bush
The Rangers enter the offseason without much locked down anywhere on the roster. Texas began the transition to what they hope to be their next window of contention last offseason, parting ways with longtime roster fixtures Shin-Soo Choo, Lance Lynn, Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor. That effort continued midseason with deals shipping off Joey Gallo and Kyle Gibson. However the front office wants to define that series of moves — rebuild, retool, etc. — this is clearly a franchise amidst an overhaul to a younger, cheaper core group of players.
With that uncertainty comes opportunity. With very few positions accounted for and most of the marquee names now gone, the front office has a near blank slate to construct the roster. They’re entering the winter with less than $30MM in guaranteed commitments and one of the smaller arbitration classes leaguewide. It’d be a surprise to see the club push player payroll up to their $160MM+ franchise-record level this winter, but there’s plenty of room even before approaching the approximate $95MM mark with which the Rangers opened 2021, itself the club’s lowest figure since 2011.
Regardless of precisely where ownership sets the budget, there should be a good bit of financial flexibility for the front office. General manger Chris Young acknowledged as much this summer, telling reporters he expects “to be very active in the free agent market, targeting players who fit kind of our next few years and what we’re trying to accomplish.” That’s something of a nebulous quote by design — being very active in free agency doesn’t inherently signify the club will be playing at the top of the market — but the opportunity to add an impact player or two is there.
Signing a high-end free agent wouldn’t necessarily mean the front office believes the team ready to contend in 2022. Young’s mention of the club’s “next few years” could indicate the team is looking at 2023 and beyond as a more realistic contention window. But the front office could identify some marquee, multi-year deal targets this offseason with an eye towards locking in some certainty a year or two down the road when a return to competitiveness looks more plausible.
Read More: Expect Rebuilding Rangers to be Active this Offseason 2021-10-14 14:11:22