Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Texas Rangers Offseason Blueprint

Two years removed from their last American League Championship, it's common knowledge that the Texas Rangers have choked and come up short in back-to-back disappointing one-game playoff losses. Although they have failed the past two years, a couple names on the free agent market, the trading block and the young talent the team possesses may put them in great shape for the 2014 season. The key is identifying these players.

The Good:

Billy Butler; 1B/DH Kansas City Royals

Butler addresses two of the Rangers offseason needs in one package at first base and designated hitter. With all the trade rumors circling around his head, the Rangers seem to be at the front of the race for him. Butler, 27, would be a good candidate to stay in Texas for quite some time. The Rangers have plenty of young talent to offer to the Royals in return, like Luis Sardinas, Joey Gallo and Wilmer Font. What might be the biggest upside to Butler is that he is a right handed, middle-of-the-order type batter with a .289/.374/.412 line last year. This kind of production is exactly what the Rangers need to bulk up their line up.

Brian McCann; C/DH Free Agent

Let's face it, when Brian McCann is healthy he is one of the best catchers in baseball. At the age of 30 he is already a 7-time All-Star and a 5-time Silver Slugger award winner. Having just turned down a qualifying offer from the Braves, and the Rangers almost certainly not wanting to rely on Geovany Soto at starting catcher, I can't see why the Rangers wouldn't be in the running for him. McCann put up a .256/.336/.461 line in 2013 with 20 home runs, while only having played in 102 games. With all the production and awards he's accumulated throughout his career, I see a great fit for Brian in Texas.

Corey Hart; 1B/RF Free Agent

The most risky name on the list, right-handed slugger Corey Hart had offseason knee surgery and missed the entire 2013 season. Since the Brewers didn't extend a qualifying offer, he has become a free agent. The risk is obviously that Hart's knee surgery has turned him into a shell of his former self. The reward is his former self. In 2012 (his most recent season) he hit .270 with 30 home runs and 83 RBIs. Another stat with the number 83 is his career stolen bases count, which isn't exactly mind blowing for the 32-year old but certainly makes him a concern on the base paths. Any fan of the Rangers knows how much they love to run. Since Hart knows how to play outfield and first base he fits the Rangers defensive needs perfectly.

The Bad:

Nelson Cruz; OF/DH Free Agent

There is no doubting that 'Deep Nelly' is a fan favorite in Texas, but the situation surrounding the 33-year old's re-signing looks bleaker by the day. Earlier this week it was understood that Cruz had turned down the $14.5 million dollar qualifying offer sent by the Rangers. Even before that, the acceptance of the 50-game suspension for PED usage right in the middle of the pennant race really stabbed the Rangers in the back. To my understanding it was Cruz's intention all along to leave Texas and become a free agent. Although the 'Boom Stick' would be missed by the organization, there has never been a reason or rhyme for trying to keep a player in a place he doesn't want to be.

David Price; LHP Tampa Bay Rays

It is extremely difficult to write anything negative including the name David Price. One of the best young pitchers of our generation, Price has already racked up a Cy Young Award, and most of all, everybody loves him. Whether it's in the club house, on the field or in a post game interview, everyone seems to have incredible respect for Price. As intriguing as all of this is, I think the Rangers should stay as far away from  Price as possible.
First of all, what the Rangers would have to give to the Rays in return is a huge asking price, and may even include giving up pieces that would end up hurting the team.
Second of all, The Rangers should definitely not be looking for starting pitching at this point, though Price would certainly give them the best pitching staff in Major League Baseball.
Thirdly, and what I think is most important, is that Price is 2-2 with a 7.36 ERA in Rangers Ballpark, which is where he would be starting half of his games.

When will the Rangers make their first big move?
November (Early Offseason)
December (Winter Meetings)
January (Late Offseason)
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