As the Texas Rangers prepare to play in the ALCS, the New York Mets wait around for the World Series to end and their offseason mode to get officially switched on. The two teams made the big Max Scherzer for Luisangel Acuna trade this summer, but adding a top prospect is only one piece the Mets should consider taking from Texas.
The Rangers put their foot on the pedal prior to the 2022 season. They added Corey Seager and Marcus Semien up the middle. It looked like they could compete for a playoff spot. Instead, they were mostly irrelevant with a 68-94 record. Devoted to those two players, they pushed harder and addressed their biggest need of all, the starting rotation.
In one offseason the Rangers completely rebuilt their starting staff. Their biggest acquisition of all, former Mets ace Jacob deGrom, failed to live up to the hype due to injury. He made only 6 starts before his season ended. Scherzer would add 8 of his own after the trade deadline. The Rangers bought plenty of insurance. It paid off as they’re now 8 wins away from a championship.
The Mets can look at the Rangers for a confidence boost in building a rotation in one offseason
The Rangers were busy this offseason beyond deGrom. Andrew Heaney and Nathan Eovaldi were signed in the offseason. Martin Perez accepted the qualifying offer. Jon Gray was returning and the team already had hope that Dane Dunning would to develop. Despite quality seasons from them, the Rangers continued to push forward by adding Scherzer and Jordan Montgomery midseason.
All of these new bodies in Texas paid off. They ended the regular season with a 90-72 record. They have yet to lose a game in the playoffs after steamrolling past the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles in consecutive series. A 2.20 ERA from their pitching staff is a big reason why.
The Mets are in a similar spot the Rangers were around this time a year ago. They still have Jose Quintana under contract for another year. Kodai Senga is coming off of a spectacular rookie season and should be thirsty for more. There is no shortage of depth already present. Where they aren’t close to matching the Rangers is talent. In one offseason, the right decisions can work to perfection.
The Rangers weren’t shy about spending money on starting pitching. deGrom, Perez, Eovaldi, and Gray all have contracts of $15 million or more this year. Jake Odorizzi raked in $12.5 million to spend the year on the IL. Heaney came to Arlington for $12 million.
This is the point where the Mets may need to rely heavily on their younger bats. On their 2023 payroll, only Seager at $35.5 million and Semien at $26 million are position players making over $5 million. Unbelievably, Austin Hedges is their third-highest paid position player. It has afforded the Rangers the ability to spend a whole lot on starters.
It’s not a perfect formula. However, getting as much production from their two highest paid position players was essential and surely helped elevate the game of others around them. The Mets can count on Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor. Everyone else around them needs to bring their best game in order for the Mets to be nearly as successful as the Rangers who still felt the need to add starting pitching at the trade deadline.
When thinking about how good the Mets can be in 2024, the word “if” feels like a must. If Brett Baty has a year like Josh Jung. If Francisco Alvarez can reach a new level in his ability to produce runs. Can the Mets, like the Rangers in 2023, somehow survive with an inferior bullpen?
The Rangers, if nothing else, proved an active offseason in free agency to add starting pitching is a possible mission for the Mets to follow. We can only hope they have anywhere near the same kind of luck.