Even After Frazier Signing, the Rangers Aren't Done Making Moves
The Rangers have a solution to third base finally, but that doesn't mean they're done making moves.
Per multiple reports, the Rangers agreed to terms with free agent corner infielder Todd Frazier on Sunday. The move gives Texas a legitimate third baseman. Frazier is a right-handed hitter who can still drive the ball and he has a solid glove at the hot corner. It's not the headline-grabbing move fans wanted, but it fills a huge void in the field and in the lineup.
Adding Frazier, along with Robinson Chirinos, upgrades two positions where the Rangers finished in the bottom three in the American League in OPS. Both deals are pending physicals.
The Rangers would still like to address at least one more position, ideally at first base. Center field is an option for upgrading, but the Rangers feel that first base is bigger need.
This makes the Frazier signing a very valuable one. Frazier can also play first base, which gives the team flexibility going forward with their next move. For now, they have third base covered with Frazier, but that doesn't stop them from bringing in another third baseman.
In old news, the Rangers missed on Anthony Rendon, who took the Angels' seven-year, $245 million offer over the Rangers' six-year, $192 million at the Winter Meetings. Josh Donaldson, who was the Rangers' plan B going into the offseason, is surprisingly still on the market.
The Rangers like Donaldson, but not the asking price for the former A.L. MVP. Donaldson wants a four-year deal for around $110 million. The Rangers aren't interested in offering a four-year deal.
With Donaldson's asking price too high, that led them to Todd Frazier, who was statistically the best third base option left after Rendon and Donaldson.
Two players the Rangers are interested in are free agent right fielder Nicholas Castellanos and Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado. The Rangers are interested in bringing in Castellanos as a first baseman and are interested in Arenado because he's one of the best players in baseball. Everyone should be interested in him.
Starting with Castellanos, if the Rangers can land him, they will have upgraded both corner infield spots, added three quality starting pitchers, and unclogged the log jam in their corner outfield spots. That is a fantastic winter for a team that had multiple holes in the roster in November.
An addition of Castellanos would be not one, not two, but three right-handed power bats added to what was a very left-handed lineup in 2019. All three players (Castellanos, Frazier, and Chirinos) can hit the ball over the fence.
Let's face it. If you play in the American League, you have to hit if you want to win. Of course, you can't forget about pitching either, which is why the additions of Corey Kluber, Kyle Gibson, and Jordan Lyles are so key in what the Rangers have been doing this winter.
For the Arenado pipe dream, let's get something clear. The chances are slim – but, there is a chance. There are a lot of hurdles in pursuing a trade for Arenado, even with the Rockies seeming more and more likely to deal the all star third baseman.
Arenado is owed $234 million over the next seven years. That's a lot of money to commit to a player, no matter how good he is. This is where the Rangers have the best advantage of all the suitors for Arenado. The Rangers appear to be willing to take on the entire amount of the contract, which is pretty much the only way Texas could pull off a deal for Arenado, which leads to the next point.
Obviously, Arenado has multiple suitors, including the Braves and Cardinals. The latter just recently threw their hat in the ring, after they acquired highly-touted pitching prospect Matt Liberatore. Both the Braves and the Cardinals have the farm systems to outbid the Rangers in what they can offer in a trade.
If the Rangers agree to take on the entire contract, their trade offer may be good enough to equalize the competition, giving the Rangers a fighting chance. But wait, there's more hurdles.
Nolan Arenado has a full no-trade clause. If he feels like the Rangers aren't a worthy destination, he can say no and that's the end of it. Even if the Rangers and the Rockies agree to terms on a deal, if Arenado says no, it's not happening.
Unfortunately for Texas, both the Cardinals and Braves are in better positions to compete. Arenado wants to win and it doesn't take 20/20 vision to see how Atlanta and St. Louis are more attractive destinations right now.
The final hurdle is Arenado's opt-out after the 2021 season. He can opt out of his contract after only two more seasons, which makes any team that potentially trades for him hesitant to offer a package full of top prospects for only two years of a superstar. Mortgaging the future for two years of a high-caliber player is only worth it if you win a World Series. Unfortunately, those things aren't guaranteed, even if you get there and are one-strike away...twice.
If the Rangers or any other suitor can somehow get Arenado to waive or renegotiate his opt-out clause, then the likelihood of a deal goes up. The suitors for Arenado will be willing to offer their best trade package and as long as the Rockies are satisfied with a return, a deal just may happen.
With many options still on the table, the Rangers can go about upgrading their roster in several ways. That's the beauty of this Todd Frazier signing. It doesn't handcuff them from making further deals.
More answers will come the next time Jon Daniels speaks to the media. For the time being, every indication is there that the Rangers are not done forming their roster for 2020.