Texas Rangers limp into offseason hopeful, but not certain, that 2022 will be a much better season
The Rangers lost 102 games this season, which ended Sunday with a 6-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians.
The curtain was lowered Sunday on the Texas Rangers’ season, not a moment too soon and well after the boom had been lowered on an inexperienced, talent-deficient ballclub.
The 2021 Rangers go down as the third in club history to lose 100 games and with the third-worst winning percentage. Only the first two teams in Arlington, in 1972 and 1973, were worse.
For the first time in club history, the Rangers have posted five straight losing seasons.
But that was all on the table when the front office assembled the roster last offseason. What happened shouldn’t come as a surprise, though perhaps the dearth of talent is alarming.
All that the players who took the field Sunday can do is try to improve. Fewer than half have earned a spot for 2022, and only a handful can’t be replaced.
The Rangers, though, can’t turn over the entire roster no matter how big they talk about being spenders in the offseason. Not all holes can be plugged, and there are no guarantees that free agents will want to plug them.
That leaves hope. After 102 losses and a recent track record of missing out in free agency, hope might also be in short supply.
“Clearly, I believe in what we’re doing as an organization and the vision we have,” manager Chris Woodward said. “We’re going to have a better roster. I know that. Whoever’s here currently that sits on that roster is going to be better for what they went through this year. They’re going to have grown. They’re going to have a great offseason. They’re going to learn from what they’ve gone through.
“Whatever additions we make, we’re going to be a better team. And everybody that played this year in the minor leagues is going to be one more year experienced. They’re going to be one year closer to being here to help us win.
“That’s encouraging, but we have to go out and prove it.”
The Rangers limped into the offseason Sunday with a 6-0 loss as Cleveland won its final game as the Indians. The Rangers had only four singles as they were shut out for the 15th time.
Downtime and tee times are in the players’ immediate future. They will scatter to various parts of the western hemisphere as soon as Monday, and some of them won’t return.
The Rangers have a roster mess on their hands. Eight players on the 60-day injured list must be added to the 40-man roster, and four to six spots will be created to protect prospects from the Rule 5 draft.
Impending free agency for Jordan Lyles, Brock Holt and Charlie Culberson will clear some spots, but many players will be hitting the waiver wire.
Free agency begins after the final out of the World Series, though there’s a five-day window before players are free to negotiate with the 29 other MLB teams.
Decisions are pending on Woodward’s coaching staff. The Rangers exercised the 2022 option on his contract during spring training, and he said there has been no final word on if his staff will remain in tact.
Judgments won’t be made on them off this season, he said, but rather on a coach’s body of work since joining the staff.
It’s also the first full offseason for general manager Chris Young, who helped orchestrate front-office moves last month and at minimum will seek to hire a farm director.
His biggest role, though, might be as a pitchman. He needs to convince ownership to give a desired free agent an extra year or an extra pile of cash to sweeten a deal enough to beat a contending team’s best offer.
Young will also have to convince free agents that the Rangers are closing in on their window to contend again.
“We’ve got to make improvements, but we’ve got to get people to commit,” Woodward said. “And that’s probably the most uncertainty there is. But I believe we can outline a vision for what we have and people will want to come. I promise. It’s just a matter of getting them here.”
The Rangers will hold their annual pro scouting meetings in a few weeks, ahead of free agency, as the front office, scouts and player development staff take over from here.
The players will rest and heal for a month or so before beginning their offseason workouts. The coaches get some time off, too.
The Rangers’ season is over.