Free agency will begin in 15 days or less, and the Texas Rangers are poised to loosen the pursestrings and pursue "top players" in the class. Now with all but two teams making their plans for the offseason, any kind of noise surrounding potential targets should catch the attention of fans.
Three players who could be targets for Rangers president of baseball operations Jon Daniels and general manager Chris Young have spoken about their impending free agency:
• Corey Seager will be one of five shortstops highlighting this winter's class of free agents. The 27-year-old will be heavily courted over the coming weeks, with the incumbent Los Angeles Dodgers having a five-day window to exclusively negotiate with Seager before he hits the open market.
It's unknown where Seager will land, or if he will even stick at shortstop. The Dodgers traded for Trea Turner prior to this season's trade deadline and have reportedly committed to him as their shortstop in 2022. Nevertheless, Seager still has interest in returning to the Dodgers.
“Absolutely. I grew up here, I've spent a lot of time here, I believe in what these guys do," told The Athletic's Fabian Ardaya. "I believe in how we go about it. Yeah, absolutely.”
The Rangers are believed to be aggressive players in the shortstop market, and a source has told InsideTheRangers.com that manager Chris Woodward covets Seager. Prior to managing the Rangers in 2019, Woodward was the third base coach of the Dodgers from 2016-2018.
• Chris Taylor is another Dodger that is bound to hit the free agent market this winter. Taylor is coming off his first season as an All-Star after slashing .254/.344/.438/.782 with 20 home runs, 73 RBI and a 110 OPS+ in 148 games.
The 31-year-old utility man has the most versatility on among free agent position players—playing all positions except for pitcher, catcher and first base—coupled with a career .779 OPS. Like Seager, Taylor was asked about his future with the incumbent Dodgers, only his response was a bit more open-ended.
"I don't know what's going to happen. I've loved every minute of being a Dodger. I have no idea what's going to happen this offseason ... I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to play for the Dodgers."
Progress? MLB, MLBPA To Meet Again After Union's Latest CBA Proposal
The MLBPA submitted their counterproposal to MLB in Monday's bargaining session, conceding in two key areas.
Does The Manager Matter? What Rangers' Chris Woodward Really Needs
Give me the best players with the worst manager and I’ll bludgeon your team of the worst players with the best manager ... Right?
What's On the Rangers' Agenda Once the Lockout is Over?
Once the MLB lockout is over, the Texas Rangers will have plenty of business that needs attending before the regular season begins.
Though there is not yet any reports of the Rangers showing tangible interest in Taylor, Chris Woodward has spoken very highly of him since leaving the Dodgers. Taylor fits the mold of the grind and grit coveted by Woodward and his coaching staff, and would be a valuable veteran presence in a young Rangers clubhouse.
The Rangers are also expected to pursue outfielders in the free agent and trade markets. Taylor's name is one to watch when free agency opens five days after the conclusion of the World Series.
• With the Rangers expected to keep tabs on free agent outfielders, Kyle Schwarber could also be a name worth watching for Rangers fans. Like Taylor, there are not yet any ties between the Rangers and Schwarber yet, but he checks a lot of boxes for what the Rangers need.
Schwarber is coming off his first All-Star season, and despite a hamstring injury that limited him to only 113 games, it was a career year for the 28-year-old outfielder. He slashed .266/.374/.554/.928 with 32 home runs, 71 RBI and a 148 OPS+ in a season split between Washington and Boston. Given his performance this season, he is expected to decline his $11 million mutual option and take his $3 million buyout in search of a bigger payday.
Schwarber split time between left field and first base for the Red Sox, but profiles much better as a left fielder. The Red Sox made it to the American League Championship Series this season, and could look for a reunion with Schwarber, especially since he is open to one.
“It’d be pretty stupid not to think about [returning],” Schwarber told Alex Speier of The Boston Globe. “My team here has been unbelievable. … If they feel like they would like to talk about [a new deal], I’d be all ears. I just think it would be stupid to ‘X’ someone off for no reason. Especially for a place like this, I’d be all ears.”
The Rangers have had a revolving door in left field, and the Texas lineup is becoming more and more right-handed. Schwarber's power and on-base ability from the left side could be very attractive to the Rangers, especially if they want to spend most of their offseason money on a shortstop.
Schwarber would still command a substantial financial commitment, but one the Rangers could undoubtedly afford.
Make sure to like SI's 'Inside The Rangers' on Facebook