More than fifty players became free agents after Monday’s non-tender trade deadline. They reached a point where their past performance was going to dictate they get a raise in arbitration to a predicted dollar level their current teams don’t want to pay.
Here are ten that fit the Rangers, or at least the sort of players the Rangers tend to target.
Kevin Gausman SP: The fourth-overall pick in the 2012 draft, Gausman has always been high on potential but short on actual production. He fits the mold of many recent reclamation projects the Rangers have taken a chance on. Like Kyle Gibson, he has flashes of brilliance but mostly waves of frustration. If the Rangers would have waited, they likely would have gotten him a lot cheaper than Gibson and pretty much gotten the same pitcher.
Aaron Sanchez SP: Three years ago, he won the American League ERA title. Then he spent most of the next few seasons battling, of all things, blisters. He had shoulder surgery late in the 2019 season and is expected to miss the beginning of 2020. When healthy, he is a dominating pitcher. He is rarely healthy. He is a prime example of the bargains Daniels shops for.
Taijuan Walker SP: His career 3.95 ERA in seven big league seasons would put him above most Rangers starters. What makes him so attractive to Texas is he’s coming off Tommy John surgery and shoulder surgery. Meaning cheap and affordable. That’s almost too good to be true.
Jimmy Nelson SP: He threw only 22 innings last year. Which is more than Edinson Volquez, Drew Smyly, nd Shelby Miller combined when Daniels signed them last year. So he would qualify as deep in experience. If he can regain the form he had in 2017 when he went 12-6 with a 3.49 ERA, he will be a steal. If. If. If.
Blake Treinen RP: After the nearly perfect year as a closer in 2018, how is this guy a free agent? Treinen had 38 saves and an ERA of 0.78 two seasons ago. He was nearly unhittable. Then 2019 happened. His ERA ballooned to 4.19, he lost his closer’s job and now he’s a free agent. How can a guy fall so far so fast? Ask Jose Leclerc.
Alex Claudio RP: Why not? The Rangers know him. And the Rangers bullpen is a mess.
Josh Phegley C: This was a surprise. He was the Athletics primary catcher in 2019, having had a really nice season. But he committed the cardinal sin in Oakland. He became worth something. Phegley would be a massive upgrade over Jeff Mathis. Then again, anyone who is reading this sentence right now would be a massive upgrade over Jeff Mathis.
C.J. Crone 1B: The Rangers seem to gravitate toward these types of home run or bust hitters, giving them spring training invitations. He is the last player the Rangers need for their problems at first. Which probably puts him at the top of their list.
Domingo Santana OF: This guy had a breakout season in 2017, with 30 HRs, 85 RBIs, and an OPS of .875. He looked like he was going to be a star. Then the Brewers gave up on him and he floundered, and he was traded to the Mariners, baseball’s version of Siberia. The last thing the Rangers need is more corner outfielders. Which is why he will be on this list. Can he be next year’s Hunter Pence?
Travis Shaw 3B: The Rangers need a third baseman. They love going under-the-radar. Travis Shaw is the quintessential Rangers target. Cheap. Lots of power. (31 HRs, 101 RBIs in ’17, 32/86 in ’18). Cheap. He’s a good bet to be standing at third when the Rangers open 2020.
Don’t be surprised to see one, if not more, of these in Rangers camp in spring.