Will the Texas Rangers be a surprise bidder in MLB’s off season free agency?
With the hotly-touted teams all out of the playoffs, speculation is beginning to ramp up about where the big names will land in the off season.
As the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies prepare to meet in the 2022 World Series, other clubs are already looking ahead to free agency.
The Dodgers, Yankees, Braves, and Mets are all done, and while it was never possible for all of them to be in the Fall Classic, the fact that none of them made it is something of a shock to the system.
There are big names set for free agency, with Aaron Judge and Shohei Ohtani topping the list, and in every discussion about the pending market moves, these same four teams come up as possible landing spots.
It is tempting to go there, since let’s face it, not many teams have deeper pockets than these. Particularly the Yankees and Dodgers. Traditionally able to simply buy their way into a championship, both of these teams will be strong contenders for any player on the auction block.
With multi-billionaire Steve Cohen taking full ownership of the Mets, there exists a real possibility that he could decide to dump a ton of money into a trade deal, although after last season’s high price paid for Max Scherzer and a league-topping $314 million payroll may be enough to give even him pause.
The Los Angeles Angels franchise are reportedly on the market for a new owner, but until one comes forward, there will be the cloud of suspicion that they won’t be able to afford to keep both Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani on the books. While Sho-time has been characteristically tight-lipped about his leanings, there is more than a swirl in the rumor mill that he could be a target for crosstown rivals the Dodgers.
But let me make the case for Texas as a possible sleeper landing spot.
Long seen as the organ donor for the MLB, Texas has no trouble finding talented players, but immense problems with holding on to them. Alex Rodriguez, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, and Sammy Sosa all had stellar careers after they were traded away from Arlington. Just last season, the Rangers provided Joey Gallo and Isiah Kiner-Falefa to the Yankees.
Money has never been the issue with Texas. More a lack of vision, or perhaps will, in the front office. And many marquee players would perhaps balk at the idea of heading to a team with no hope of making the post season. However, with Bruce Bochy at the helm for the Rangers in 2023, Arlington may become a desirable location this year.
Clayton Kershaw started in Texas and may be open to coming back if the Dodgers can’t make a big offer. Reportedly, last season, Texas offered Kershaw more than LA did, but the prospect of playing in October swayed his decision.
While the Rangers have a raft of needs, including pitching and outfielders, they could make a big stab at Ohtani to kill two birds with one stone. True, this may be the longest shot of any possible trade, given his post season drought experience with the Angels, but with Bochy and one or two other names on board, it is a wagon that Shohei may be willing to hitch his horse to.
The big prize, of course is Aaron Judge, and while the Yankees will certainly fight hard for him, there are rumblings that he may be tired of the fickle New York fanbase after he was booed in the playoffs.
The Dodgers would seem to be the front-runner to grab the California boy from the Bronx, but Texas is the kind of place where he could thrive. Much like Joey Gallo, the Ranger fans are forgiving to a fault and with the pressure taken off, big hitting outfielders can really blossom in the Texas sun.
Texas have shown that they are willing to put their hands into their pockets when it comes to big-money trades, with Corey Seager and Marcus Semien costing over half-a-billion dollars last year. Bruce Bochy is not the kind of manager who will let them languish on a middling team. He came back into the Show for one reason: to win.
“If I was going to return to managing, it had to be the right situation. I strongly believe that to be the case with the Rangers, and I can’t wait to get started.”
If you are in, you are all in. Expect Texas to make big offers this year, and at least one of these big-name free agents to trade their coastal attire for cowboy boots and a stetson.