The Texas Rangers have been one of the most active teams this offseason, conducting multiple trades and signing some key free agents. So far the Rangers have enjoyed gaining a strong bat at the plate in Prince Fielder through a trade with the Detroit Tigers which sent Ian Kinsler to the Motor City; they acquired top outfield prospect Michael Choice in a trade with the Oakland Athletics for Craig Gentry; catchers J.P. Arencibia and Geovany Soto were both signed; and Shin Soo Choo was given a seven year, $130 million contract to play left field.
It is hard to not be pleased with the job the Rangers management has done this winter to prepare the team for the 2014 season. By trading Kinsler to Detroit, former #1 ranked prospect Jurickson Profar will finally get his chance to start in the Big Leagues, a move Ranger fans have been awaiting since his signing. The acquisition of Michael Choice provides Texas with a good and energetic back-up outfielder that could potentially play all three outfield positions if needed. Shin Soo Choo single handedly boosts the Rangers’ chances to make it back to the playoffs with his outrageous .423 OBP last season, and Arencibia and Soto fill the hole Pierzynski left behind the plate.
One area that hasn’t been directly addressed this offseason is the position of closer. With last year’s stud Joe Nathan signing with the Detroit Tigers as a free agent, the Rangers are left empty handed. Unless further signings are conducted it can be assumed that the 25 year-old Dominican Neftali Feliz will regain his job at the closer position; a job he hasn’t held since the 2011 season. Feliz underwent Tommy John ligament replacement surgery August 1st, 2012 and didn’t return until September 1st, 2013. While losing Joe Nathan to the Tigers may seem like a blow to the gut, the Rangers do have faith in the performance of Neftali Feliz. After all, this is the guy who threw the 3rd fastest pitch ever recorded, clocking in at 103.4 mph. Feliz had 40 saves in 2010 and 32 in 2011 when he was the Rangers’ closer.
Another aspect of the Rangers’ game which hasn’t been mentioned much this offseason is their starting rotation. Obviously Yu Darvish will be leading the way, Derek Holland will be the number two, but after that it is up in the air. Matt Harrison would presumably be third in the order, but after missing almost the entirety of last season due to a back surgery his performance will be evaluated critically. After him should come Martin Perez and Alexi Ogando, both of which have been plagued with injuries as well. These five pitchers provide Texas with a decent, not great, starting rotation. However, in my opinion, the Texas Rangers will need a better than just decent rotation if they want to get out of the stacked AL West and make it to playoffs in the 2014 season.