After winning the 2023 World Series, the first in franchise history, the Rangers have a big decision to make. They can either rest on their laurels, having accomplished their ultimate goal well ahead of schedule, or they can double down, reconfirming their commitment to winning. There is no denying their aggressive approach over the last two years paid dividends, but will they take that as motivation to remain aggressive or as impetus to let their foot off the gas?
The Rangers have been relatively quiet this offseason, having made just two notable acquisitions: starting pitcher Tyler Mahle and reliever Kirby Yates. Mahle, 29, is recovering from Tommy John surgery and won’t return to the mound until midsummer at the earliest. Yates, 37 in March, overcame elbow problems of his own to pitch a full season in 2023, but at this point in his career, he looks more like a middle reliever than the All-Star he once was.
Meanwhile, several key contributors and high-paid veterans came off the books at the end of the 2023 season, including Jordan Montgomery, Mitch Garver, Martín Pérez, Jake Odorizzi, Aroldis Chapman, and Will Smith. In other words, this team has holes to fill and, at least in theory, should have money to spend.
However, after allocating significant resources to sign players like Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Jon Gray, Jacob deGrom, and Nathan Eovaldi over the past two years, not to mention adding Max Scherzer at last year’s trade deadline, the Rangers’ estimated 2024 payroll already sits dangerously close to the first luxury tax threshold. According to Roster Resource, the team has just over $4MM left to spend before they’d have to pay the tax.
The Rangers paid the competitive balance tax for the first time this past season. The total bill came in around $1.8MM, a drop in the bucket compared to their payroll and a small price to pay for a World Series title. Nonetheless, managing partner Ray C. Davis “isn’t keen to start the season above the tax threshold” in 2024, according to Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News. Grant has suggested as much at multiple points throughout the offseason, but he reemphasized the idea earlier this week. Specifically, he notes the higher surcharge for clubs that pay the tax multiple years in a row; teams pay a 20% tax on all overages their first year above the threshold, 30% in their second straight season, and 50% in subsequent seasons after that.
Grant also acknowledges that the Rangers, like several…