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Rangers Mailbag: How Many Wins in 2022? How Long Will The Lockout Last?

With baseball in its ninth work stoppage, it's a perfect time to address questions from Texas Rangers fans after a historic impact in free agency.

Four press conferences in one day can be a grind (hats off to the Texas Rangers media relations department for pulling off such a feat). Even so, it's a day that fans will hold onto for a long time, especially over the next few...days? Weeks? Months? Years?! Oh yeah, baseball is now in its ninth work stoppage. Yippee.

In the meantime, let's review your questions that reflect on the past several days, this pesky lockout and what the Rangers might do once it's over.

How many [games] do you think Rangers are going to win? How good is our middle infield going to be?
(@Hope13718312)

After splurging $561.2 million on free agents, the Rangers will surely be better in 2022 and beyond. And Corey Seager and Marcus Semien make up arguably the best middle infield in baseball. But how will it translate to wins on the field?

Even with the additions of Seager, Semien and Kole Calhoun, that's only one-third of your lineup. Sure, Nathaniel Lowe and Adolis García could be nice bats as well, and maybe this is the year where Leody Taveras figures out the transition to the big leagues. Jon Gray is a fine, high-floor addition to the rotation. But there is still a plethora of young arms that have to prove they belong.

The Rangers still need a deeper lineup and a more established starting rotation before we begin thinking about postseason baseball in Arlington. I'm more of an optimist, so right now, I'm looking at the Rangers winning roughly 75 games. That's still three wins shy of than what they did in 2019, so I could be low-balling them. However, there are still more moves to be made. Then we will have a better idea of how improved the Rangers can be in a one-year period.

Remember, these moves are not about winning in 2022. It's about adding impact talent to a farm system that is about to produce some of its most exciting prospects. The time to truly expect a serious postseason run should begin in 2023.

With Seager & Semien now playing up the middle, does this mean Josh Jung will be the Opening Day third baseman? Or does Isiah Kiner-Falefa start there and then they bring Jung up?
(@JR_Gaut)

I think that's ultimately up to Josh Jung. If he goes into camp and proves he is ready for the big leagues, I have no doubt the Rangers will commit to him as their Opening Day third baseman.

However, if the Rangers don't want to rush Jung to the big leagues, it's understandable to expect Isiah Kiner-Falefa as the third baseman on Opening Day. He's won a Gold Glove there and he's not a bad bat to have in the bottom-third of the lineup.

Then again, it's possible the Rangers trade Kiner-Falefa ahead of the season. The Yankees have reached out to the Rangers about acquiring him, though those talks are now indefinitely on hold with the lockout in place. The Rangers could look to add more depth to their farm system by parting ways with Kiner-Falefa. Or he could eventually become a valuable super-utility player in Texas. 

Any updated news on acquiring pitchers or outfielders? 
(multiple)

As previously stated, all talks of acquiring big-league free agents or players via trade are frozen due to the lockout. But when it's over, the Rangers still plan to add another starting pitcher and outfielder.

Clayton Kershaw makes the most sense for the Rangers regarding the rotation. His interest in Texas is documented, and now with the moves they have made to signal a pivot towards contention, it's a more attractive place for free agents. However, I don't want to just write off Kershaw going back to Los Angeles. He has only worn a Dodgers uniform in his big league career, and that's the cap he'll eventually wear in Cooperstown. In addition, there's his forearm injury to consider.

The Rangers are still interested in Seiya Suzuki, the Japanese free agent that was posted by the Hiroshima Carp on Nov. 22. His 30-day negotiation window is also frozen, and will open up once a new CBA is in place. After that, he'll have about 20 days to make a decision. For now, he's got some time to review the meetings he had prior to the lockout.

Matt Olson, Luis Castillo, Clayton Kershaw: What is most likely to happen?
(@CeedeeLambROY)

The Matt Olson and Luis Castillo news came just prior to the lockout. The Dallas Morning News reported the Rangers have at least reached out to the Oakland Athletics about what it would take to trade for the All-Star first baseman, and MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported the Rangers have reached out to the Cincinnati Reds about a trio of starting pitchers, including Luis Castillo.

Of the three, I think Kershaw is the most likely. He's likely going back to the Dodgers or coming to Texas. Call those 50/50 chances. Trades are complicated, and the Rangers better be careful of dealing too much from their farm system already. However, if it doesn't cost too much trade capital, in my very humble opinion, the Rangers should absolutely trade for Olson.

Comparing Nathaniel Lowe and Olson's first full year in the majors shows very similar stats, although Olson has about 30% more homers. Do you pay the price in prospects for Olson or wait to see what Donnie Ecker and Tim Hyers can do with Lowe?

If the Rangers can put a trade package together centered around Nathaniel Lowe and Justin Foscue, with a couple other mid-tier prospects, you have to go for it with Olson. He's such a talented player, has two years of club control left and is only two years older than Nathaniel Lowe. The Rangers could conceivably trade for him then have two years to work out an extension. Then your infield is set for at least the next half decade, if not longer.

However, they should not sell the farm. If the A's demand two or three Top 100 prospects, forget it. The Rangers need to maintain a strong farm system so this doesn't end up like another A-Rod situation from the early 2000s.

I am intrigued by Lowe. Near the end of last year, he began to hit the ball in the air more often and it resulted in better numbers. Lowe working with Donnie Ecker and Tim Hyers could be one of the more intriguing stories of the 2022 Rangers. I really think Lowe could be a player that produces a .850-.900 OPS annually.

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That being said, Olson is already established, still young and is a far superior defender. Lowe still needs to grow. If it's feasible to land the player that's closer to a sure thing, you do it. There's no guarantee Lowe turns into a productive first baseman. Then again, he may become better than Olson. Baseball is funny that way.

If no more significant moves are made, what does the Opening Day lineup look like?
(@stevehughes88)

If I'm putting it together, probably something like this:

  1. DH Willie Calhoun
  2. 2B Marcus Semien
  3. SS Corey Seager
  4. CF Adolis García
  5. 1B Nathaniel Lowe
  6. RF Kole Calhoun
  7. 3B Josh Jung
  8. LF Nick Solak
  9. C Jose Trevino

I believe Jung will be the Opening Day third baseman, and while he will likely bat higher in the lineup throughout his career, there's no need to throw him straight into the fire. Nick Solak could earn at-bats in the outfield until Leody Taveras can finally make that transition to the big leagues and stay there.

I also know Chris Woodward would prefer Adolis García to stay in one spot, and center field is not his preferred position. We'll have to see how it shakes out if the Rangers can add more players once the lockout is over.

In your opinion, how long do you think the lockout will last?
(@datboiquadzilla)

I'm going with the barometer of early February. It's when both sides should begin to feel real pressure of losing money, and that's something neither side wants to do. I expect much of December to be mud-slinging between the owners and players, then maybe some incremental progress in January. It's a dangerous game of chicken and one side is going to have to budge in order to get the ball rolling.

Don't expect that to happen any time soon. Try to put baseball on the back burner, enjoy the holiday season and hopefully we start hearing more positive news in January.

What changes do you want to see with the new CBA agreement?
(@TimHZZ)

This may sound a little bit like a cop out, but anything that creates more competition, especially preventing teams from tanking. Yes, the Rangers just "tanked", but they turned around and spent more money than any other team ever has in one offseason. They're not being complacent, and that's what the players want—for teams to try. Trying means being willing to open up the checkbook.

We've begun to see some teams that typically don't spend money begin to show a willingness to do so. San Diego is now one of the top-spenders in baseball, and Tampa Bay—TAMPA BAY!—just inked Wander Franco to a huge contract extension.

It's good for the sport when all teams try, and a salary cap system does not need to be implemented in order to do so. Take the Pittsburgh Pirates for example. They won 98 games in 2015, brought in more fans than they ever had in a three-year period from 2013-15, then tore the team apart and decreased payroll. That's an awful look, and owners of small market teams too often cry poor and say the system is rigged for larger markets.

Teams like the A's and Rays find ways to remain competitive most years, and they never exit the bottom-third of the league in payroll. Money doesn't solve everything, but you do have to spend some in order to compete. It's a breath of fresh air to see a club like Tampa Bay shell out $182 million for a player.

When do we start seeing the young core of pitchers come up?
(@SlovenianD)

Cole Winn could very well make his big league debut in 2022. He'll likely start the campaign as the ace of the Triple-A Round Rock rotation, then if everything goes the way it should, he'll be in Arlington at some point during the summer.

Jack Leiter is probably a year behind Winn. I'm thinking summer 2023 for him. Give him at least one full season as a professional before thinking about the big leagues. If there's any pitching prospect they don't want to screw up, it's Leiter. His stuff is filthy and he has the makeup of a big league ace.

Ricky Vanasco is a pitching prospect that fans should be excited about, and now he's on the Rangers 40-man roster. However, don't expect him to see the big leagues until 2023 at the earliest. He's coming off Tommy John surgery and needs to gain some momentum with valuable innings in Double A and Triple A before rushing him to Arlington.

On a scale of 1-10, how much does getting verified actually mean to you? What’s your go-to wing flavor? Is Corey Seager as dreamy in person as he is in pictures and why is the answer yes?
(@josh_dack)

In all honesty, it's not that important. Maybe a 4/10. There are just two frustrating parts about it: 1) I haven't even received a response from Twitter. It's been over six months since I applied, and I've been ghosted. At this point, just give me an answer. You can apply again 30 days after a rejection. 2) Seeing other "journalists" parading around Twitter with their blue checks and either reporting false news for retweets and likes or don't even try to hide their biases. Even so, there is the stigma that journalists with the blue check mark should be considered trustworthy, and I meet that requirement.

I get in moods, but lately it's mango habanero. Actually, I love any flavor that mixes sweet and spicy, and you can never go wrong with straight up buffalo. My palate has grown to handle more heat, so I do like stuff closer to the top of each restaurant's Scoville scale. To give a couple wing chain go-to orders, I typically get a 15-piece from Buffalo Wild Wings with Jammin' Jalapeno, Hot and Mango Habanero. With Wingstop, it's a 10-piece combo with Hot and Mango Habanero. I'm really intrigued about more flavors from Pluckers, but I don't live close to any. Baker's Gold is served at Globe Life Field, and that is a tasty sauce. One that I enjoyed many times during the 2021 season.

Corey Seager has a million-dollar smile. Check that, a $325-million smile. He should be very popular among Rangers fans for many reasons over the next 10 years.


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