Texas Rangers Mailbag: How Are the 2023 World Champions Doing?

Rangers Mailbag

The Texas Rangers are the 2023 World Champions.

Texas has had its fair share of bad luck over the years, such as in 2010 when they won the AL pennant but lost to the San Francisco Giants in five games and 2011 when they won the namesake pennant but lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in six games. But the Rangers never gave up and went and took it from the Arizona Diamondbacks in five games this year.

This is my first-ever Texas Rangers mailbag for Inside The Diamonds. You asked, and I answered. Now, let’s look at the current state of the 2023 World Champions.

5. Is there any potential for the Rangers to sign Clayton Kershaw in free agency this off-season? It has been something that has been rumored about the last few years. Kershaw had a rough ending to his season last year but could be a nice weapon to go with the rest of the starting rotation.

Maybe. Clayton Kershaw is arguably one of the best pitchers in baseball. Kershaw was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, and attended Highland Park High School in nearby University Park, where he played baseball and football. He was a center on the varsity football team for future NFL quarterback Matthew Stafford. He pitched an all-strikeout perfect game, striking out all 15 batters he faced. He also pitched for USA Baseball’s Junior National Team in the Pan Am Championship. Since he grew up in the Dallas area, he might sign with the Rangers. This will likely be a good idea, especially if he and fellow pitcher Jacob deGrom return to normal. Plus, the Rangers reportedly would love to bring him in for his professional baseball career’s final year or so

4. What will the Rangers do to address the bullpen? Do you see there is a potential for them to make a significant addition through free agency or the trade market, such as signing Josh Hader?

That’s a good question. The media recently reported that Max Scherzer underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk. That said, there will be pressure for the Rangers’ front office to focus on the team’s starting rotation, which is very thin right now, rather than the bullpen in the near future. Of course, Josh Hader would be a fantastic free-agent signing, but the Rangers would rather spend money on Jordan Montgomery. Hader can pitch one inning, which would be great but not a surefire investment, while Montgomery can pitch multiple innings. If I were the Rangers GM, I’d put the money back into Montgomery.

3. Evan Carter had a fantastic season last year and really made a statement as a rookie. Do you think he has a legitimate shot of being on the roster on Opening Day? If so, where will he fit in on the depth chart?

Yes, I think Evan Carter will start on Opening Day and play an entire MLB season as a starting outfielder unless he gets injured. Carter is a young star outfielder who recorded nine doubles, a record for a single MLB season. While he just appeared in 23 MLB games before October began, he proved to be a fast learner after hitting .306, .413, and .645 in 75 plate appearances to close out the regular season. The Rangers will benefit from him for an entire season, but you should also look at his fellow outfielder, Wyatt Langford, who was the fourth pick in the 2023 MLB Draft. Langford posted a 1.157 OPS in his first 200 trips to the plate as a professional baseball player. 

2. Given the uncertainty with the TV deal, do you foresee the payroll going up before next season? Will ownership allow the front office to make the necessary additions, or will they be limited with their spending?

Texas is on the list of MLB teams with TV rights deal issues. The Rangers will ditch Bally Sports after the 2024 MLB season. Last month, Bally and its ownership group, Diamond Sports Group, announced in a court filing that it had reached an agreement with creditors to resolve any remaining financial issues for 2024. The Rangers will eventually get their TV broadcast rights back, and I can see their payroll going up because of their deep playoff run and first-ever World Series win this year. However, Texas may see less money. Bally reportedly paid them an average of $110 million per year in one of the bigger deals in baseball, and a halving could lead to a 15% drop in revenue, more or less. 

1. Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker are expected to be significant contributors to the Rangers’ starting rotation, potentially as early as next season. Could the Rangers use one of them to land a significant bullpen arm and/or additional outfield bat?

Yeah, I saw that expectation of Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker. Both are right-handed pitchers. Not only for the Rangers, but they were also college baseball teammates for the Vanderbilt Commodores at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. They were Vanderbilt co-aces who reportedly leaned on each other during their Rangers journey. Yes, there’s a chance, but it’s slim. Leiter finished the 2023 MiLB season with only one start for the Round Rock Express, the Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Rocker sustained a torn ligament in his right elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery, which ended his season the same year. If both right-handers are consistent and healthy, they could significantly help the Rangers’ starting rotation. But I don’t see this happening until 2025 or later. I hate to be wrong, but I hope I’m wrong this time.

Ana Kieu

Ana Kieu is a journalist by trade. Her love for sports shows in her writing, editing, and podcasting work. She writes about MLB for Inside The Diamonds.

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