For each division, we will be doing an in-depth look at each team’s situations for the offseason and offer some insights to what would make sense.
I take a dive into the AL West… one of the most puzzling divisions in the entire MLB. The Astros are really good, we get that… but the A’s seem to compete every year, the Mariners decide to miss the playoffs every year, the Angels have no pitching every year, and the Rangers are just horrid.
Top FA Targets:
- Dallas Keuchel, SP
The Rangers have money and a great need at SP… Keuchel grew up in Oklahoma. Good fit? The Rangers may need to go longer/higher than other teams to entice him to join a rebuilding team… but no state income tax is always attractive.
- Billy Hamilton, CF
Recently cut by the Reds, he could take advantage of going wherever he wants… but he’s going to want assured playing time. It wouldn’t be terribly difficult to supplant Delino Deshields in CF and he could benefit from having new manager Chris Woodward, a light hitting player himself back in the day.
- Mike Moustakas, 3B
The Rangers have an opening at 3B with the Adrian Beltre retirement. With no real internal options outside of Profar, Moustakas would be a good fit for a one- or two-year deal.
- Matt Harvey, SP
Another likely option to sign for one year, Harvey is a buy-low candidate worthy of the risk by a rebuilding team. Depending how Harvey’s market shapes up, he may need an overpay or more incentives to join TEX.
- Matt Wieters, C
With the early signing of Jeff Mathis, the Rangers will need another catcher anyway. A one-year deal with Wieters could be good for both sides in hopes he can rebuild his value. If the new Rangers stadium is as hitter-friendly as the old one, could work well for some low-tier free agents.
Top 3 Trade Possibilities:
- Rangers trade OF Shin-Soo Choo to the Indians for 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion & 2B Jason Kipnis
The Indians are trying to free up some budget space for 2019, while still maintaining their competitive level. One way is to move Jason Kipnis’ contract (1 year/$17.1M including his buyout of 2020 option). In similar fashion to the Dodgers/Braves trade prior to the 2018 season, the Indians would essentially move some salary this year to the 2020 payroll. Shin-Soo Choo is set to make $21M/year in 2019 & 2020 vs Edwin Encarnacion $21.6M in 2019 and a $5M buyout in 2020. Overall the move would save CLE $15.2M in 2019 and Choo would actually be an upgrade over Encarnacion based off 2018 WAR. For the Rangers, they could clear more salary off their 2020 payroll while they battle for the #1 pick in 2019.
- Rangers trade SP Mike Minor to the Padres for 1B/OF Wil Myers & OF Hunter Renfroe
Wil Myers has 4 years and $74M remaining on his deal… but has no real position on the Padres after they signed Eric Hosmer and the emergence of numerous OF options. Another man without a guaranteed position is RF Hunter Renfroe. With Reyes, Cordero, Margot, and Jankowski all occupying spots, both Myers and Renfroe are replaceable and would free a lot of money for a small-mid market team. For the Padres, they would add a quality SP and a little over $4M to this year’s payroll (Myers makes $5.5M in 2019, then $22.5M in 2020-2022) but save roughly $15M in 2020 in Minor’s final year under contract. For the Rangers, they get a good bat in Myers capable of playing a few positions and a RF that MASHES LHP (career .282/.350/.581 vs LHP). If you formed a platoon with Choo/Renfroe (Choo .221/.329/.309 vs LHP in 2018) , you’d have the equivalent of a roughly 6 WAR player in RF.
- Rangers trade 3B/LF/1B Joey Gallo to the Twins for OF Byron Buxton
This is an upside trade for TEX. Both have 4 years of team control left, but one is producing now, and one is still giving teams hope to live up to his potential. Gallo is the power hitter that MIN needs and could fill the void at 1B left by Mauer (and DH too). By moving Gallo, the Rangers can get prospect Willie Calhoun some playing time and Buxton could take over in CF for Delino Deshields.
- Rangers trade OF Nomar Mazara to the Braves for prospect SP Luis Gohara (#7)
In similar fashion to my previous articles, it makes no sense during a rebuild to hold onto a player with three years of team control if you won’t be competitive in those years. That’s called half-assing a rebuild. The Braves need a corner outfielder and have a plethora of SP prospects to choose from. There were reports of the Rangers coveting Gohara last year at the trade deadline and his five more seasons of team control. Losing a bat like Mazara would be a blow for TEX, but they have internal options like Willie Calhoun to replace him. The Braves would have an affordable RF and allow them to spend their money in other places.