Sunday ended up being a huge day for the Rangers. They landed shortstop Marcus Semien on a seven-year, $175 million late in the afternoon and now the news is they’ve agreed to a four-year, $56 million deal with free agent starting pitcher Jon Gray, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN.
The Rangers lost 102 games last season and don’t have a bunch of young talent on the cusp of breaking through at the major-league level. They also had payroll pretty much down as low as it could get heading into the offseason with a new ballpark and an ownership group that has spent lavishly on payroll before.
Do the math and it seems like the front office plan this offseason is to spend their way back into relevance.
Gray will provide desperately needed rotation help. In seven years with the Rockies, the former number three overall pick went 53-49 with a 4.59 ERA and 1.34 WHIP, but keep in mind he’s pitching his home games there in Coors Field. He posted a 107 ERA+, which adjusts for defense and ballpark along with a 3.91 FIP, both figures indicating he’s a lot better pitcher than the raw ERA indicates.
In 829 1/3 career big-league innings, Gray has 849 strikeouts.
Gray uses mostly his fastball and slider while mixing in a change and curve. The thin Coors air is known to mess with spin on breaking pitchers in particular — meaning they’ll break less. Being freed from that ballpark and any bad habits one might develop to cope with pitching home games there, at least in theory, should help any pitcher both at home and on the road.
More good news for Gray and the Rangers: The new ballpark in Arlington so far has appeared to be more pitcher friendly than average.