If you have ever run a business or even constructed a family budget you know the cold hard truth: The less money you make, the less money you have to spend. With that maxim in mind we ponder the immediate future of the two professional sports teams that call Arlington home. Neither the Rangers nor the Cowboys made any money last year. In fact, both lost huge sums, the likes of which would send most businesses into bankruptcy. Fortunately for us, both teams have made a lot of money in years past and have some in reserve. And neither team will spend the off season hibernating.
The Rangers have been one of the most active teams in baseball this off season. It started with the hiring of a new General Manager. Former Rangers pitcher Chris Young rejoined the organization in what many view as a coup for the club. This Dallas native and Princeton graduate played for the Rangers and four other teams during a 13-year big league career. Most recently he has been working in the office of the Commissioner of Baseball. In this day and age he is a unicorn, having played the game but also very familiar with how analytics and data factor into team construction.
Within his first week on the job he helped orchestrate the trades of the Rangers best starting pitcher, Lance Lynn, and their closer, Rafael Montero.
Lynn, who has been the best pitcher for the past two seasons, had one year left on a team-friendly deal. Texas traded him to Chicago for two prospects who were at the top of the White Sox system. The trade actually happened around midnight on Chris’s first day on the job, but he does not want to take too much credit for it.
“There had obviously been talks before I came on board, but they looped me in as quickly as possible,” Chris says. “I have been happy with all of the activity.”
Rangers fans will be happy with the addition of Chris, who admits that bringing a World Series Championship to the team he grew up rooting for would be a dream come true.
The Cowboys off season started sooner than most fans expected. Stephen Jones told me recently that this will be one of the most uncertain off seasons the team has ever had. In a league with a salary cap the pandemic-forced loss of revenue will have an affect on the cap. In other words, the salary cap could go down for the first time ever. Stephen warns that therefore the Cowboys may not be extremely active in free agency. He says the priority is to sign quarterback Dak Prescott.
The good news is that Stephen is a salary cap master. He learned quickly how to massage the cap. He told me that since the Jones family had only owned the team for three years when the cap was implemented he and his dad were able to adjust to the cap.
“The George Youngs and Bill Poulians of the world were much more old school,” Stephen said. “We were able to sign Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin while saving enough money for the acquisition of Deion Sanders.”
More good news: the Cowboys have six draft picks in the first four rounds. So even if they are not able to be active on the free agent market they will get an infusion of talent this off season. Stephen admits that it is obvious that they will focus on defense with those picks.
“Of course,” he says, “our focus was defense last year, too, and we took [wide receiver] CeeDee Lamb.”
That pick actually worked out very well and proved that Cowboys can be flexible. Even if you need defense you can’t pass certain players who are the “best on the board.” Lamb was one of the few bright spots for the Cowboys this year.
2020 tested each of us in different ways. It was a year that asked each of us to stretch our budgets, to stretch our limits, to stretch our flexibility. Sometime in 2021 we hope to go back to normal with just a little less stretching.