If the Texas Rangers want to escape the basement of the AL West standings, they need to do some serious spending this offseason.
The Texas Rangers entered the 2020 season with the hopes of progressing up the AL West standings. That didn’t happen, as the team finished dead-last in the division with a 22-38 record and saw teams like the Los Angeles Angels and the Seattle Mariners outperform them.
This offseason, the Rangers aren’t expected to pursue the “Big Four” free agents in Trevor Bauer, J.T. Realmuto, George Springer and D.J. LeMahieu, as they’ve embraced the rebuild. Luckily for them, there are some quality players in the lower tiers of free agency. However, they can potentially make a mistake that can blow up in their faces. You need an example? Just look at the failed Corey Kluber trade last season. Enough said.
Here are three free agents the Rangers should target this offseason and one they should absolutely avoid.
3. Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
The Rangers have a bit of a conundrum, as outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is walking to the open market. Choo had been Texas’ best power bat, as he posted a .455 slugging-percentage in 2019. His numbers did drop off in 2020, but that can be attributed to the shortened season.
Look, the Rangers aren’t going to be landing any big name free agents, especially those looking to cash-in on a contending team. In case you needed a reminder, the Rangers are not going to compete for the World Series. Sorry, but it’s true. However, they can explore landing a player looking for more playing time. Perhaps the best player available to fill in for Choo is Joc Pederson of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Pederson already had difficulty seeing the field prior to the 2020 season, but that became exacerbated once the Dodgers made the blockbuster trade for Mookie Betts. So, the Dodgers had a starting outfield of Betts, Cody Bellinger and A.J. Pollack. In fact, the Dodgers initially planned on flipping Pederson to the Los Angeles Angels before the trade was scrapped.
Even though he underperformed in the regular-season, Pederson delivered in the Dodgers’ postseason. In 16 games, the outfielder recorded a .382 batting average and .991 OPS, while recording two home runs and eight RBI. Pederson has shown he’s one of the better sluggers in the league. Let’s not forget that in 2019, Pederson slashed .249/.339/.538 with 36 home runs and 74 RBI.
The Rangers are in need of power hitters entering this upcoming season. In 2020, Texas had the second-worst team slugging percentage in the league (.364). That’s not going to fly next year. The Rangers can fix that problem by adding Pederson.