The Texas Rangers will be one of the most improved teams in baseball in 2022.
They finished with a 60-102 record in 2021, the worst in the American League West division.
They also traded their best player, Joey Gallo, to the New York Yankees at the deadline, as both parties weren’t likely to agree to a contract extension to keep him in Texas long-term.
As bad as last year was for Texas, things are starting to look up.
During the first part of the offseason, prior to the lockout, the Rangers signed middle infielders Corey Seager (10-year, $325 million deal) and Marcus Semien (seven-year, $175 million pact), two of the best free agents available in the market.
Our Texas Rangers have spent over $500 million in one off-season and they aren't done yet.
It doesn't seem real that Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Jon Gray and Kole Calhoun are all Rangers.
— The Prospect Times (@ProspectTimes) November 30, 2021
Is that enough for them to challenge for the AL West title?
The Rangers’ Roster Is Not (Yet) Built To Fight For The AL West
Asking the Rangers to be better than the likely-rebuilding Oakland Athletics is not far-fetched: it’s likely that they will be, in fact.
However, topping the Seattle Mariners, the Los Angeles Angels, and especially the Houston Astros is not fair at this stage.
Sure, there is still a lot of the offseason to be decided once MLB and the Players Association can announce a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
And the Rangers will likely be involved in the bidding for some free agents, particularly pitchers.
But as currently constructed, there is no way the Rangers can compete with the Astros.
Perhaps they could challenge the M’s and the Angels if those teams fail to take a step forward, but talking about a division crown may be premature.
Their lineup went from lousy to average with the additions (it’s a bigger leap than we imagine, but there is still work to be done), but with Gray, their rotation went from awful to very bad.
After Gray, the Rangers have Dane Dunning (4.51 ERA in 117.2 innings in 2021), Taylor Hearn (4.66 ERA), Spencer Howard (9.70 ERA), and some combination of AJ Alexy (4.70 ERA) and Glenn Otto (9.26 ERA) in the rotation.
It’s crystal-clear that they need to bring more arms if they want to compete with the very best teams in the division.
The Rangers need pitching BAD. Like really bad. And they have prospects coming up, sure, but can’t just rely on them. So I’d be hard after starters and if you can land an Olson, that’s icing on the cake. https://t.co/T04z07GxBW
— Nolan Writin' (@NolanWritinFS) January 19, 2022
They Should Be Targeting Pitching
Luckily for them, there are still quality arms available via free agency or trade.
Kikuchi in particular should be a nice fit.
All in all, asking the Rangers to take the division right away may not be fair.
If they keep improving their rotation and bullpen before the season, maybe they can aspire to a Wild Card spot.
But the most likely scenario has them being more playoff-ready by 2023 or 2024.