ARLINGTON -- When asked about the Rangers’ potential payroll going into the 2024 season, general manager Chris Young was honest -- without saying too much.
“[Ownership] has been unbelievably supportive in giving us the resources that we need to put a winning team on the field, and I don't anticipate that changing,” Young said at the GM Meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz., in early November.
The Rangers have been one of the most active teams over the past few offseasons, but after two years of nonstop spending, they’ve been relatively silent so far this winter. This year’s Winter Meetings in Nashville is the perfect place to heat up the stove.
Sunday, Dec. 3: HOF Contemporary Era ballot results released (Cito Gaston, Davey Johnson, Jim Leyland, Ed Montague, Hank Peters, Lou Piniella, Joe West and Bill White)
Tuesday, Dec. 5: Draft Lottery
Wednesday, Dec. 6: Rule 5 Draft
Club needs: Bullpen depth, designated hitter
Despite how lockdown the bullpen was in the postseason, the Rangers finished the regular season a paltry 30-for-63 (47.6 percent) in save opportunities. The only free agent from that group is Aroldis Chapman, but Texas will need to revamp the bullpen far more than by just replacing the lefty flamethrower.
The only hole the Rangers have on the offensive end going into 2024 is left by backup catcher Mitch Garver, who played most of his games at DH down the stretch. After landing on the injured list with a knee sprain in April, he finished with a .270/.370/.500 slash line in 87 games. The Rangers could still pursue Garver, but he will look to sign with a club with whom he can do more catching, leaving them in need of a DH.
Potential trade candidates
At the Trade Deadline, the Rangers showed a willingness to deal prospects to add big league talent. It may come down to that again this offseason. There are two groups that Texas still has the depth to deal from: middle-infield prospects and young outfielders.
The entire infield is set for the foreseeable future with Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Josh Jung and Nathaniel Lowe, so prospects such as Justin Foscue (the Rangers' No. 6 prospect, per MLB Pipeline), Max Acosta (unranked) and Jonathan Ornelas (No. 21) could be packaged for veteran talent.
In a similar vein, the outfield trio of Evan Carter, Adolis García and Leody Taveras is under team control for years to come, and with Top 100 prospect Wyatt Langford (Texas No. 2, MLB No. 13) waiting in the wings, players such as J.P. Martínez and Dustin Harris (No. 10) could be moved.
Other depth players like Josh Smith and Ezequiel Duran -- who both filled in at various times when Seager and Jung went down with injuries in 2023 -- could also be on the trade block if the Rangers are confident in younger guys backing up any of the infield positions if injuries come up again.
Prospect to know
Despite being one of the newest members of the farm system, Langford is no doubt the most MLB-ready at this point. The No. 4 overall Draft pick in 2023, Langford jumped across four levels of the Minors and finished hot in Triple-A to end the regular season. In 44 total Minor League games, he slashed .360/.480/.677 (1.157 OPS) to cap off his first taste of pro ball.
At just 22 years old, Langford has shown an elite recognition of the strike zone along with quality outfield defense that should allow him to reach the big leagues sooner rather than later. He could join the club as soon as Opening Day, but the Rangers won’t rush him with the depth they have in the outfield.
Rule 5 Draft
The Rangers added four prospects to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft:
Four pitchers that Texas has liked were left unprotected: Justin Slaten, Daniel Robert, Grant Wolfram and Dane Acker. Infielder Davis Wendzel was also unprotected, though he’s struggled with injuries throughout his time in the farm system.
Texas was relatively active in the Rule 5 Draft under the previous front office, but Young did not make a selection in his first offseason at the helm in 2022. If the Rangers make a selection, bullpen depth should be the target, though they will more likely address those holes through free agency.
Burning question: What will it take for the Rangers to run it back?
At first glance, it’s easy to see how the Rangers can push for a repeat. Eight of their nine offensive starters are returning. Every starting pitcher except Jordan Montgomery -- who could re-sign with Texas -- is also returning. The bullpen can’t possibly be that historically bad two years in a row. And quite simply, Bruce Bochy still leads this club.
That doesn’t even take into account the injuries the Rangers endured last season, but it clearly won’t be an easy repeat regardless. They will likely need another starting pitcher, and more than a couple relievers, to compete in the American League West alone. Other AL teams are sure to upgrade their rosters as well.
The Rangers surely cannot, and will not, run back the exact same roster. But the path back to the World Series -- maybe by winning the division this time -- is well within sight.
THE GRAYS HOST TEXAS RANGERS TOY DRIVE
Jon Gray, the Rangers’ 2023 nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, will host the Texas Rangers Toy Drive with his wife, Jacklyn, for the second year in a row.
The toy drive, which benefits Mission Arlington/Mission Metroplex, will take place at Globe Life Field on Thursday, Dec. 7, from 4-7 p.m. The organization's Christmas Store provides parents with gifts for their children at no cost.
Fans are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys ($15 value) to Globe Life Field, and they will receive a ticket to a 2024 Rangers home game, one per person while supplies last. Those attending should park in Lot B and enter the ballpark through the Grand Slam Team Store.
The full list of players, alumni, coaches and broadcasters in attendance will be announced closer to the event date. Santa Claus and Rangers Captain will also be available for pictures.
Fans unable to attend the toy drive may also donate to Mission Arlington/Mission Metroplex online by purchasing items through their Amazon wish list.
For more information, including a list of suggested gifts, visit rangers.com/toydrive.
AL Championship Series MVP García continued his victory lap around the Metroplex on Tuesday night as he attended the Mavericks’ NBA In-Season Tournament matchup with the Rockets. During pregame warmups, García swapped jerseys with Mavs superstar Luka Dončić.
Dončić has been a vocal supporter of the Rangers, both in person and on social media. He and Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki were in attendance for Game 2 of the World Series in Arlington.
García has stuck around Dallas-Fort Worth in the offseason, and he joined Rangers reliever José Leclerc at the Nov. 12 Cowboys game against the Giants at AT&T Stadium.
FORWARDED FROM A FRIEND? SUBSCRIBE NOW
To subscribe to Rangers Beat, visit this page and mark "Rangers Beat" from our newsletter list. Make sure you're following the Rangers or that they're checked as your favorite team.