Wednesday Newsletter time: How many years are Texas Rangers willing to offer big-name free agent?
Club brass has spent the week discussing who to target this offseason, and have done so expecting to spend more money.
The Texas Rangers have money, not just for this offseason but also for future offseasons. Or so they say.
That, of course, is hard for many to believe after ownership has tightened the purse strings since the 2014 offseason.
That was when the Rangers signed Shin-Soo Choo to a seven-year, $130 million contract and acquired Prince Fielder and his hefty remaining contract. The Rangers haven’t gone longer than three years on any deal since.
But they have discussed doing so this offseason, president of baseball operations Jon Daniels said Tuesday after two days of meetings with pro scouts aimed at identifying who the Rangers want to target.
“Ownership has given us a good range to work with this year with the expectation that that is going to grow over the next several years,” Daniels said. “We will be in a different category than we’ve been the last couple years. The opportunity has got to line up.
“We’re open to a longer-term deal on the right player.”
Daniels wouldn’t say if the Rangers would go to seven or eight years, in an era when the elite players have signed for 10 years or more. But he did say that the Rangers’ focus will first be on position players, and there are many All-Star hitters headed to free agency.
An elite hitter or two would help fix some of the Rangers’ offensive woes but would also help prospects rising to the majors in 2022, presumably third baseman Josh Jung and catcher Sam Huff, feel less pressure to be a key cog in the lineup.
Most of the big free agents play shortstop, and the expectation is the Rangers will attempted to acquire one. However, the Rangers have discussed upgrading in other ways in case they lose out on a shortstop.
Again, they say they have the kind of money to land the big fish.
At the very least, that has helped upped the optimism within the front office. Daniels said the meetings have been more fun this week than the past few years because the Rangers haven’t had to skip the page with all the big names on it.
Getting the fish in the boat is another story. But the Rangers are planning this week as if they will have a lot more bait on their hook.
Observations from the back fields
Day 2 of the Newsletter’s quick stay at the Surprise Recreation Campus was a long, productive one. There was plenty to see during the morning work, and then some more during an instructs game against Cleveland.
Here’s what could be seen:
First up was watching Ricky Vanasco throw his final side session of instructs. He will pitch Friday and then again Oct. 29 against TCU. He threw 23 pitches, the last of which was a four-seam fastball that made one minor-league coach weak in the knees. Vanasco said he is working on cleaning up his mechanics and is also trying to recapture his bulldog mentality. He expects that will come out against TCU as he pitches under the lights and in front of fans for the first time since 2019.
Left-hander Joe Palumbo packed his bags and prepared to head for New York for his offseason after throwing two “innings” of a simulated game. He had two line drives hit right back at him, the first one by Jonathan Ornelas at 107 mph. With Palumbo’s injury luck, it’s mildly surprising he wasn’t hit by one of them.
Huff caught Palumbo. Huff was supposed to be off Tuesday as the Surprise Saguaros did not have an Arizona Fall League game, but he came to work nonetheless. So did infielder Ezequiel Duran, who took at-bats in the instructs game vs. Cleveland. If you haven’t listened to Huff’s appearance on the Texas Rangers Baseball Podcast, do so by clicking here.
Right-hander Owen White, a Rangers participant in the AFL, worked out with many of his Saguaros teammates on the day off, away from the instructs camp. He is scheduled to pitch Thursday after tossing five scoreless innings last week in his debut. His fastball ranged from 93-97 mph. White said the goal is to get 30 innings this fall to build upon his injury-shortened regular-season total (35 1/3).
Shortstop Cam Cauley, the third-rounder in 2021, will be in Lubbock this fall after all. Take it easy. Cauley is on the travel roster for the Rangers’ four-school barnstorming tour of Texas, and the first game is Monday at Texas Tech. He was committed to Tech before the Rangers ponied up $1 million. Cauley, by the way, has a firm handshake.
Don’t worry: The daily doggy video is below. Up first, though, the Newsletter wanted to give everyone a heads-up.
Two days at instructs have produced a ton of videos of prospects — 10 of them — and they have been uploaded to the Texas Rangers Baseball Podcast YouTube channel.
The prospects featured in the videos include: First baseman Dustin Harris, the Rangers’ Minor League Player of the Year; right-handers Vanasco, TK Roby and Josh Stephan; left-handers Palumbo, Dylan MacLean and Mitch Bratt; Duran; outfielder Aaron Zavala and Cauley, both 2021 draft picks.
Warning: These are not cinematic masterpieces. Most are shot with an old iPhone through the chain-link backstop. The rest are shot with the same old iPhone in the six-pack bullpen by Nolan Ryan Field.
They’re good enough to get an idea of what these guys look like when performing and to help you familiarize yourselves with them in anticipation of them reaching the majors at some point.
Give them a look. You’ll also find video a few episodes of the Texas Rangers Baseball Podcast. More are coming.
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