Like many or most other teams, the Rangers are planning to trim their payroll in response to the revenues lost during the shortened 2020 season. In a session with media earlier this week, managing partner Ray Davis told Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News and other reporters that “two major factors” will contribute to less spending next year.
“The first is how much baseball is going to lose [financially] in 2020. And also, the life cycle of our club,” Davis said. “We have some high-paid contracts rolling off our payroll. We will have some minimum salary players coming on. So, it gives a justification, if you will, to not to spend as much. The economics of baseball has been so sad this year and there is uncertainty about what 2021 will bring.”
The Rangers were projected to have a payroll in the $153MM range heading into the season, before the COVID-19 pandemic struck and the season was reduced to 60 games (thus reducing Texas’ outlay to roughly $65MM). Grant figures the club won’t go much, if at all, beyond the $100MM figure in 2021, though as Davis noted, some of that reduction was already baked into the future plans. Approximately $47.1MM will come off the books in the form of departing free agents, most notably Shin-Soo Choo and Corey Kluber — Texas holds a $14MM club option on Kluber for next season but that will surely be declined in the wake of Kluber’s injury-plagued year. It’s also worth mentioning that 2020 was the final year of the Rangers’ outstanding obligation to retired slugger Prince Fielder.
Assuming Grant’s $100MM projection is correct, that leaves Texas GM Jon Daniels with some room to maneuver, as Roster Resource has just under $62MM in payroll commitments on the Rangers’ books for the coming season. However, as Daniels has already publicly committed to a “youth movement” year in 2021, major expenditures don’t seem likely. The Rangers had already taken a generally more conservative approach to free agent spending in recent years, most notably their strategy of signing veteran pitchers (such as Lance Lynn, Mike Minor, Jordan Lyles, and Kyle Gibson) to multi-year deals that didn’t break the bank.
It remains to be seen if the Rangers will consider even those modest types of contracts this winter, though Davis did make it clear that Daniels will be the one continuing to weigh those decisions. Daniels has been running the team’s baseball operations department for 15 seasons, and though the Rangers have suffered through four straight losing seasons, Davis still believes in Daniels’ track record.
“Jon has demonstrated that he and his team can put together winning ballclubs,” Davis said. “If you thought about going out and replacing him, all you have is a question mark. We have a known entity. We have a group of guys that know how to get it done and I think they are going to get it done again.”