Rangers Must Upgrade Their Rotation If They Want to Be Successful in 2017
If you were to look at the Texas Rangers roster as it stands right now, there are several holes both in the starting rotation as well as from a position standpoint. Texas is still in need of a first baseman, an outfield bat, and arguably their biggest need, a solid starting pitcher or two who can slot in nicely into the middle of the rotation.
Sure, Texas could always go into next year and surprise us all, but as it looks right now, that likely won't happen. A offense that has the potential to score a lot of runs and hit home runs is a nice quality, but with the subtractions in their offense and lack of starting pitching depth, Texas might find itself calling the sheriff's office sooner than later next season for assistance.
Last year, Texas's rotation ranked as a little below league average with a cumulative ERA of 4.38 over the span of 921.1 IP. In that span, they ranked 22nd in the league with 729 strikeouts, while coming in the middle of the pack in earned runs with 448 which put them 16th in the league. Sure, there were some great starts last year by both Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels and by Colby Lewis before he got injured, but beyond that things were pretty murky for Texas.
Derek Holland was bought out earlier this season which ended up saving Texas about $10 million dollars. Immediately after making the move, Texas took that money and went out to acquire free agent starting pitcher and Texas native, Andrew Cashner. Cashner signed a one-year, $10 million dollar deal with the team on November 21st, 2016.
Besides those two moves, Texas has been silent in the pitching department. There were a few rumblings of a possible trade between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas, which would have sent a reliever to Arizona in exchange of a starting pitcher like Patrick Corbin or Archie Bradley, but those talks later fell through and nothing surfaced from them.
While Texas could certainly target someone like Jose Quintana of the Chicago White Sox or Jake Odorizzi of the Tampa Bay Rays, the fact is that both Chicago and Tampa Bay value both pitchers highly and would want quite the return. As discussed in the blog post about the Mariners starting pitching options, Texas would also have to give up a big haul that likely would include one or a combination of players such as: Jurickson Profar, Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, and Ryan Rua. Not only would that hurt Texas at the big league level, it would also deplete their system even more after they have already given up top prospects for Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Beltran at the trade deadline last year.
Rangers General Manager, Jon Daniels, has developed the reputation around the league of being someone who likes to survey the market before making a big move. While that is the smart thing to do, urgency would be the best course of action in this case and unless Texas upgrades its rotation with a solid starting pitcher or two, it will be hard to see them making it very far next season.
Even though they have stellar bullpen depth and will likely end up signing Mike Napoli along with another power bat, it still won't be enough to compete with the starting pitching depth of other potential American League contenders like the Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, and of course the Cleveland Indians. After all, the American League West is shaping up to be a division built around teams with strong offensive players and excellent bullpen depth, but features three teams that all lack deep starting rotation depth.
Texas would be best suited to use that to their advantage, go out and get rotation help, and try to capitalize their chances of making the postseason while their window is open as much as possible. If they don't, then they will not only become a disappointment, they will also have let the fans and community of Dallas/Arlington down tremendously.