The Texas Rangers rebounded from their first losing season since 2008 to capture the AL West title with 88 wins. They did this despite Yu Darvish going down for the season in spring training and a 7-14 April in which the Rangers looked like the worst team in baseball. But Adrian Beltre got healthy, Rougned Odor returned from the minors to post big numbers and the bullpen was dominant in the second half, when the Rangers went 46-28. The season ended with a tough loss in the Division Series, as they won the first two games but dropped the final three to the Blue Jays.
What they need: With Cole Hamels in Texas for the entire season, Martin Perez and Derek Holland ready from the outset and Darvish hopefully returning at some point from his Tommy John surgery, the club's two significant free agents are Yovani Gallardo and Colby Lewis, who combined for 30 wins when no other pitcher on staff won more than seven games. So the Rangers will probably look to re-sign one or even both, depending on their faith in Chi Chi Gonzalez (32 walks, 30 strikeouts in 67 innings) or Nick Martinez to hold down a rotation slot. The lineup returns intact with the biggest decision being how much the team wants to rely on Josh Hamilton as the starting left fielder. The lineup does lean left-handed with Prince Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo, Mitch Moreland, Hamilton and Odor, so a right-handed platoon mate for Moreland or Choo makes sense.
Guy on the rise: Odor was sent down to the minors in early May while hitting .144. He returned June 15 and hit .292/.334/.527 the rest of the way with 15 home runs. And he doesn't turn 22 until February. He has a nice left-handed stroke, good contact rates, and surprising pop, and as we saw in the Division Series, he plays with a lot of energy. This kid is going to make a lot of All-Star appearances in his career.
Prospects to anticipate: Third baseman Joey Gallo got his feet wet in the majors, receiving 123 plate appearances but retaining his rookie eligibility for 2016. The slugger showcased his light-tower power with six home runs but also fanned 57 times, an incredible 46 percent strikeout rate. He's blocked by Beltre at third base for at least one more year but could be the backup plan to Hamilton in left. He started 14 games there for the Rangers and is athletic enough to handle the position. A little more seasoning in Triple-A certainly wouldn't hurt, however, as he hit just .195 there in 53 games. And keep an eye on outfielder Nomar Mazara, who will shoot up the prospect lists after hitting .296/.366/.443 at Double-A (111 games) and Triple-A (20 games). He doesn't turn 21 until April but could be starting in an outfield corner by the end of the season.
Winter action plan: Even after trading several top prospect to get Hamels, the Rangers' farm system remains in good shape with Gallo, Mazara, RHP Dillon Tate (the fourth pick in the 2015 draft) and OF Lewis Brinson, all of whom could contribute at some point in 2016. And don't forget about former top prospect Jurickson Profar, who reached the majors at age 20 in 2013 but has missed almost two full seasons because of shoulder surgeries. The infielder did return at the end of the season as a DH only and has played in the Arizona Fall League, again as a DH only. He could be trade bait, although you'd think teams would want to check out the shoulder. If the Rangers think he's healthy, maybe they'll consider trading Elvis Andrus (although his contract means he'll be difficult to deal).
So it might be a quiet offseason for the Rangers. There's money to bring back Gallardo and maybe Lewis. One more thing to throw out there: While the bullpen was solid in the second half and Shawn Tolleson took over the closer's job and ran with it, how about trading for Aroldis Chapman? The Rangers have the prospects, Chapman's salary won't be prohibitive, and a bullpen with him, Tolleson, Sam Dyson, Keone Kela and Jake Diekman would be one of the best in the league.