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Rangers Rotation Has Room For High-Priced Veteran

Texas Rangers GM Chris Young says pursuit of starting pitching in free agency isn't impacted by deals for Martin Perez and Jake Odorizzi.

Martín Pérez is the highest-paid pitcher for the Texas Rangers going into the 2023 season. Don’t expect that to be the case come spring training.

If the Rangers have their way, at least one pitcher will be paid more than Pérez next season, who is deserving of the $19.65 million qualifying offer he agreed to on Tuesday.

Pérez’s decision gave the Rangers additional clarity on their starting rotation as they prepare to court free agents and potential trade offers.

If the season started today, the Rangers would be able to lean on three veteran starters — Pérez, Jon Gray and Jake Odorizzi. Combined, the trio will make $37.15 million next season. Gray will pull in $15 million, while Odorizzi will only cost the Rangers $2.5 million, as Atlanta is picking up the rest of his $12.5 million salary for 2023.

That also means the Rangers have just seven veterans under contract for 2023. Shortstop Corey Seager ($35 million), second baseman Marcus Semien ($26 million), pitcher Jose Leclerc ($6 million) and infielder Brad Miller ($4 million) are the others.

Per, the Rangers have $104 million in payroll committed right now.

The Rangers also reduced their arbitration bill by trading pitcher Dennis Santana to Atlanta on Tuesday. The Rangers could reduce it further if they’re able to trade any of their other arbitration-eligible players — catcher/designated hitter Mitch Garver, first baseman Nathaniel Lowe, and pitchers Taylor Hearn, Brett Martin and Jonathan Hernandez.

Even if the Rangers keep all five, estimated the five players would fetch a total of $12.7 million through arbitration, which would push the Rangers’ estimated payroll to $116.7 million for 12 players.

That’s why Rangers general manager Chris Young told The Dallas Morning News on Tuesday that the Rangers’ plan to go after top-tier starting pitching wasn’t influenced by the money committed to its three veteran starters.

The Rangers still have plenty of cash to play with.

The Rangers have made it clear they are looking for two front-line starters. When it comes to front-line starters, the Rangers have reportedly contacted the agents for three pitchers — Jacob deGrom, Carlos Rodón and Kodai Senga.

deGrom and Rodón will be costly, if the New York Post’s estimates are any indication. The Post consulted an MLB salary expert as it created its top 30 free agents list. As an indicator of the accuracy, the Post’s expert estimated Mets closer Edwin Diaz would get a five-year deal worth $105 million. Diaz ended up signing a five-year deal worth a reported $102 million.

The Post estimated deGrom would get a three-year deal worth $125 million, and that Rodón would get a five-year deal worth $150 million.

Do the math, and that’s an combined annual average of $71.6 million.

Senga, who is pitching in Japan, could fetch $65 million over five years. If the Rangers nabbed deGrom and Senga, it could cost $54 million per year. A Rodón-Senga combo could cost $44 million.

There are other options, too. Mets starter Chris Bassitt has already turned down his qualifying offer from the Mets. The Post estimated he could make $66 million over three years, a split of $22 million per year.

There are plenty of options. The Rangers still have plenty of money. Now, they have to convince at least one free-agent pitcher to join a team they believe can contend in 2023.

The good news? The Rangers are certain what three-fifths of their rotation will look like next season.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard

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