The Rangers’ rotation has undergone a dramatic overhaul this offseason, with Texas paying out more than $260 million in guarantees for five starters.
The Rangers had the sixth-lowest rotation ERA (4.63) in the majors last season, and the combined WAR of Texas starters was 5.8 (according to FanGraphs), the fifth-lowest total in MLB, so the club is the focus It is not at all surprising that they decided to apply Improved starting staff. However, the extent of the modifications is astonishing.
Texas made one of the most shocking moves of the offseason early in free agency when it acquired two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom for five years and $185 million. Additionally, the Rangers brought back Martin Perez in a $19.8 million qualifying offer, signed free agents Andrew Heaney (2 years, $25 million) and Nathan Eovaldi (2 years, $34 million), and traded them to Jake Odridge. Did. Also left is John Gray, who joined the team on a four-year, $56 million contract after 2021.
This would be an interesting experiment regardless of which arm the Rangers chose to pursue, but the pitchers they settled on made this one of the most interesting situations in all of baseball going into the 2023 season. to
DeGrom, Perez, Heaney, Eovaldi, Odrizzi and Gray are all over 31, with an average age of almost 33 in the 2023 season. Most players have a history of serious injuries. In fact, all but Perez are on his 2022 injured list.
However, this group also has significant advantages. As a result, there appears to be a Texas-sized gap between the best-case and worst-case scenarios, including the Rangers’ rotation in 2023. Indeed, many starting can be said about his staff. But when it comes to this Rangers group, you don’t have to squint too much to see which scenario is playing out.
Here’s a closer look at MLB’s ultimate boom or bust rotation.
Best Case: MLB’s Best Rotation?
FanGraphs’ depth chart projection is a good example of how the Rangers’ rotation stacks up with the rest of MLB’s elite staff if all goes well.
in seconds? None other than Rangers.
2023 SP WAR Forecast by FanGraphs Depth Charts
Still, these predictions arguably do not represent the best-case scenario for the Texas rotation. ), the performance estimates are a bit conservative, as are most forecasts.
For example, Eobaldi (projected 2.3 WAR) and Perez (1.8) have been far more valuable in recent seasons, with Eobaldi posting 5.7 WAR in 2021 and Perez posting 3.8 WAR last year. DeGrom (projected at 5.5 WAR) was his 6.9 WAR pitcher in 2019 and his last full and healthy season.
If all three can replicate these campaigns in 2023, they’re worth 5.0 to 7.0 times more total WAR than FanGraphs predicts, possibly positioning the Rangers to have the best rotation in MLB.
Worst case: many injuries and regressions
You don’t have to go back in time to see the worst case scenario for this group.
Just last season, deGrom, Heaney, Eovaldi and Gray combined to make 69 starts (71 total) and 6.1 WAR. If that happens again, the Rangers will have to rely on Odridge, Dane Dunning, Cole Ragans and Glenn Otto (a quartet who in 2021 he has 87 or more of his 2.3 WARs).
Then there’s Perez, who had a sudden breakout in 2022 at age 31. He appeared in 32 games with a career-high 2.89 ERA and a 3.8 WAR. From 2012-21, Perez posted his 11.6 WAR with a 4.71 ERA in 1,102 2/3 innings.
It’s not outrageous to think Perez will return to that level in 2023. If that happens and deGrom, Heaney, Eovaldi and Gray do the same as they did last year, we can see the Rangers getting less. 8.0 WAR is a total of these five pitchers he has.
Middle case: some hits, some misses
The third (and most likely) scenario for the Rangers’ rotation is that some moves work and others don’t.
It’s unrealistic to expect every rotation to stay healthy throughout the season, and it’s especially true for this group. There are also some question marks from a performance perspective. DeGrom’s 30+ starts would be enough of a bet to contend for his Cy Young award in the AL, and while Eovaldi and Gray are pretty predictable at this stage in their careers, Perez and Heaney are perfect. Wild is his card.
We’ve already discussed the stark difference between Perez’s performance in 2022 and his track record so far. Heaney is in a similar boat. He entered last season with a 4.72 career ERA in his first 8 of his seasons, including his 5.83 ERA with the Angels and Yankees in 2021, but has been active in the Dodgers ecosystem a year ago. was
The left-hander finished 2022 with personal bests in ERA (3.10), K/9 (13.6) and K/BB ratio (5.79), but just 72 2/3 innings. Unlike Perez, who had at least four 29 starts during the season, Heaney has only had 23 or more starts once (2018).
This middle-of-the-road scenario is better than the worst case, but it could still be an ‘L’ for the Rangers.
Texas has been busy with rotation games this offseason, but the club has done nothing to cope with an offense that ranks 12th in MLB (707) and tied for 19th in wRC+ (98). Nathaniel Lowe (141), Corey Seager (117), Adris Garcia (112), Marcus Semien (107) and Mitch Garber (101) all had at least 100 plate appearances and a wRC+ of 100 (league average). were the only Rangers who were ) or more in 2022.
Given the offensive limit, the Rangers need this rotation experiment to succeed. If not, they might be staring seven straight years without a postseason appearance.