Tuesday, March 21

Rangers Fire Manager Chris Woodward

1:19pm: Texas has announced Woodward’s dismissal. Third base coach Tony Beasley will take over on an interim capacity for the remainder of the 2022 season.

12:37pm: The Rangers are firing manager Chris Woodward, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News was first to report.

Woodward, 46, spent a bit under four seasons at the helm in Arlington. Texas hired him off the Dodgers coaching staff over the 2018-19 offseason, making him the permanent replacement after dismissing Jeff Banister that September (with some intervening interim work from Don Wakamatsu). Woodward stepped into a difficult situation, taking over a team coming off a last-place finish that was cutting payroll as it embarked upon a rebuild.

Texas bounced back a bit during Woodward’s first season, finishing in third place in the AL West at 78-84. The club was outscored by 68 runs that year, though, and regression hit during the following season. Texas went 22-38 during the shortened campaign, then stumbled to a 60-102 finish in 2021. It marked back-to-back last place finishes, but Texas nevertheless signed Woodward last November to an extension that ran through 2023.

At the time, president of baseball operations Jon Daniels praised the skipper for “(helping) to lay the foundation of our culture” throughout his first three seasons. The Texas front office certainly couldn’t have expected great results with the rosters they’d trotted out through 2019-21, and Woodward’s extension reflected the organization’s confidence in his ability to guide the club to a more competitive phase. Texas signaled a desire to push payroll forward at the start of the offseason, and they followed through with a far more aggressive winter than many might have expected.

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The Rangers signed four players to multi-year free agent contracts, including two of the three largest overall guarantees of the offseason. Texas added Corey Seager for $325MM over a decade not long after signing Marcus Semien for seven years and $175MM. They stepped in as the Rangers foundational middle infield, while the club signed Jon Gray to a four-year, $56MM pact to anchor the starting rotation. Texas brass acknowledged that from a 60-win team to immediate postseason contention seemed like a stretch, even with such an aggressive offseason overhaul. Yet they no doubt anticipated a marked improvement that’d serve as a stepping stone to a playoff run in 2023.

The results on that front have been mixed. The Rangers are on pace for their best season in three years, with a 51-63 record that has them in third place in the AL West. A 44.7% winning percentage is much better than the sub-40% marks of 2020-21, but that still translates to a roughly 90-loss pace over the course of a full schedule. They’re 9 1/2 games out in the Wild Card and virtually certain to miss the playoffs again, with little hope of playing meaningful games in the season’s final couple weeks.

At the same time, one could argue the Rangers have been more competitive than their record would suggest. They’ve been outscored by only two runs on the season with more blowout wins (games decided by five-plus runs) than losses. Had they played to a roughy .500 record that aligned with their run differential, they’d be in the Wild Card picture and the general tenor of the franchise would be far more optimistic. Instead, they’ve gone an atrocious 6-24 in one-run contests, losing so many tight games they’re nowhere near contention.

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How much responsibility Woodward bears for that record in one-run games is open to debate. There’s no doubt some amount of misfortune with a record that poor, but one could also note that Woodward is ultimately responsible for managing a bullpen that has blown 18 leads (the eighth-most in the majors) on the year.

More to come.

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