Two Rangers Targets May Sign Sooner Rather Than Later
The Rangers may or may not land the big fish in free agency this winter. If they do, they'll expedite the process of competing again. If they don't, it won't be because of a lack of trying.
The Rangers have already met with free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon, who is the best position player on the market this winter. The Dallas Morning News reported that a team of Rangers' front office members met with Rendon and his agent Scott Boras on Sunday in Rendon's hometown of Houston.
The Texas native won the World Series with the Washington Nationals in 2019, who have reportedly offered Rendon a deal in excess of $200 million. If the Rangers want to sign Rendon, they have to be willing to open up their checkbooks.
Rendon fits the Rangers' top priority this winter at third base. He could be the next cornerstone of the franchise as they move past a rebuild into becoming a contender again. He slashed .319/.412/.598 with 34 home runs and 126 RBI's in 2019. Not to mention, he is also a very good defensive third basemen.
The Rangers have also reportedly met with free agent starting pitcher Zack Wheeler. After health issues that caused him to miss multiple seasons, he bounced back in 2018 and 2019, compiling 377.2 innings with a 3.65 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP over those two seasons.
Texas starters Mike Minor and Lance Lynn both eclipsed 200 innings in 2019. The addition of Kyle Gibson, who pitched 160 innings last season, gives them three starters who can rack up innings and go deep into games. The addition of Wheeler would give a fourth, thus giving them a very formidable rotation, even in the A.L. West.
Wheeler isn't quite on the tier of Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg in free agency, but he headlines that next tier of starting pitchers that will get plenty of attention and may even get a decent payday.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that Wheeler has already received an offer exceeding $100 million. Similar to Rendon, if the Rangers truly want to land Wheeler, they will need to pony up some dough.
For the Rangers, the best news on both of these free agents came recently. Buster Olney of ESPN reported that executives believe Rendon will sign early. Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported something similar about Wheeler, that it's "very possible — maybe even probable" that he signs before the Winter Meetings, which begin next Monday.
The two of these free agents making their decisions early is the best thing that could happen for the Rangers. These are two players they really want. Whether they land them or not, they will then have enough time to continue to find ways to improve the roster.
If the situation were different, like it's expected with Gerrit Cole, quality free agents could have already signed with other teams while the Rangers hold out hope on signing one big target. If the Rangers then lost out on that, it would be a winter to forget to put it lightly.
The winter is shaping up great for Texas so far. Even if they don't land either one of these two players, sure it's disappointing, but they still have the time and resources to address those positions while there are still very good players yet to be signed.
UPDATE: On Wednesday morning, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reported that the Rangers are out on the bidding for Zack Wheeler.
While not landing Wheeler is disappointing, the positive is just what we talked about in this story. Texas can now focus on other starting pitchers and it's still relatively early in the winter.
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