When I look for information on the Rangers, I typically gather it from sources that I know are measured and level-headed. I try to give that type of insight on Strained Hammy. Sometimes, it leads me to forget that there are other fans of the team whose knowledge of the inner-workings of the club is not as comprehensive and not as level-headed as the sources I consume. Fortunately, there is a window into the minds of those fans: the comments on the Rangers’ Facebook page. Let’s peer into that window to see how these fans are reacting to the news of Nolan’s possible departure.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Randy Galloway is reporting that Nolan Ryan is the loser of a power struggle between Ryan and Jon Daniels. Galloway’s “thoroughly sourced” column suggests that Rangers majority owners Bob Simpson and Ray Davis have stripped Ryan of his decision-making powers related to baseball operations, leaving Jon Daniels and his team in total control. According to Galloway, Ryan could leave before spring training ends.
“Rangers awful offseason takes another turn for the worse.” – Evan Grant
“Rangers’ rough offseason just got rougher.” – Richard Durrett
“There’s no way to look at the Rangers’ offseason and come to any conclusion other than it’s a disaster.” – Jean Jacques Taylor
As spring training opens, local sportswriters have been trying their best to quell any optimism Rangers fans might have going into the 2013 MLB season. We’re not used to seeing those adjectives being thrown around when talking about the performance of this team’s front office. The 2012 Rangers looked much better on paper, and in the sportswriters’ paper. Well, the Rangers have seen what looking good on paper gets you: second place and an appearance in the “playoffs.”
Everyone is concerned about the Rangers’ championship “window” – the period of time that a team can reasonably expect to contend for the title of World Series Champions. It turns out that sportswriters and talk show hosts disagree with Rangers’ management on the best way to keep that window open. Should the Rangers have thrown a lot of money at the window to precariously pry it open for a few more years? Or did they do the right thing by choosing to repair it themselves by shedding flawed components and saving resources for better use in the future? We won’t know the definitive answer for a few seasons, but it’s this writer’s opinion that the correct moves were made.
“If there was something that I could have done differently, I could have looked at not having all my regulars play as many games as they played. I think if I…got them some opportunity to get more rest and be much fresher as we went down the stretch, it could have been a difference…That’s something I’m going to try to apply going into next year and see where it goes.”
- Ron Washington, October 9, 2012.
If we take Ron at his word, we should expect to see him look to his bench more often in 2013. When he looks, who’s going to be there? Well, not much as it stands currently.
Rangers GM Jon Daniels has already been on record as saying that if Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt don’t have full-time roles, they’ll start the year in AAA. This is the right move, because they need to play, rather than sitting on the bench more often than not. Also, their MLB service time won’t be wasted, which will delay their free agent years.
So, what are Ron’s options when he wants to give Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler a day off? Currently, it appears to be Leury Garcia or Yangervis Solarte, who have amassed a total of zero games played in MLB. Garcia profiles perfectly as a utility infielder with his combination of above average defense and elite speed. These tools might appease Washington, but Ron really values experience – sometimes to a fault. Solarte has been tearing up the winter league, but is probably too raw to win a spot on the bench, despite his fun-to-say first name. Go ahead, say it. “Yangervis.”
Ever since the phrase “keeping the powder dry” entered the lexicon of D/FW sports fans, it’s gained a negative connotation. It’s understandable. After their championship, the Mavericks decided to let go of key players and become Dirk Nowitzki and the Expiring Contracts, in hope that a big free acquisition would join them. The beginning of Travis’ post on Monday explains how well that approach has gone so far.
However, there is a team in D/FW that is sitting on a stockpile of powder much bigger, and much drier than the Mavericks. They’ve got their powder in Round Rock, Frisco, Myrtle Beach, Spokane and Hickory.
You’re likely familiar with Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt, the two top prospects in the Rangers’ system. Both players’ paths to MLB seem to be blocked; Profar’s impeded by Kinsler and Elvis, and Olt’s by Adrian Beltre. Profar seems untouchable, as one of the top prospects in baseball (if not the top prospect), but it seems Olt is oft-discussed in trade scenarios.
Then, you’ve got two pitching prospects, the left handed Martin Perez and righty Cody Buckel. Besides the top shortstop prospect in the game, the Rangers have two other shortstops who would be attractive in a trade package: Luis Sardinas and Leury Garcia. In a system with Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar, these two prospects look pretty expendable.
The Rangers also have a few power hitting outfielders in the system. Guys like Jairo Beras, Nomar Mazara, and Ronald Guzman are really raw, but have a lot of power potential.
If you’re interested in learning more about the players in the Rangers’ system, check out MLB.com’s review here.
The Possible Targets:
The Rangers have all the pieces to move – now it’s just up to asset allocation. There are three targets in particular I think the Rangers should have in their sights in the next year.
Justin Upton: The Rangers have been rumored to be in on Upton the entire offseason. Ken Rosenthal reported yesterday that the Rangers offered Arizona a package of Olt, either Perez or Buckel, Garcia and one other prospect. The deal has reached an impasse, with Arizona asking for more, and the Rangers refusing to budge. Don’t be surprised to hear that talks between the two teams have started again as the season draws nearer.
That the Rangers are unwilling to add to the proposed deal tells you that while they really like Upton, they’re not in love with him. Upton has had some really good seasons. In 2009, he was a 3.8 WAR (wins above replacement) player, and a 5.7 WAR player in 2011. He’s still only 25 years old (a year younger than Olt), and won’t be a free agent until 2016. There are some red flags – following both of those great statistical years, he was disappointingly average: 1.4 WAR in 2010 and 2.1 in 2012. Also, Upton has been on the trading block a few times before – why is Arizona, a team that is looking to win now, so eager to get rid of him?
These concerns are what is likely keeping the Rangers from adding more to their already healthy offering for Upton. If they’re going to trade big pieces of their farm system, they’re looking to get a huge return for their major league club.
David Price: Getting Price in Texas would definitely qualify as a huge return, but it would require a huge package of prospects going to Tampa Bay. Judging by how Price’s $10 million dollar salary was set up, it seems as though his club will be ready to deal him in 2013. What would it take for the Rangers to land the pitcher that has earned the Rays 13.2 wins above a replacement-level pitcher the past three years? It would hurt – a lot.
According to Ken Rosenthal, a trade for Price would likely require Elvis Andrus, plus Perez and Cody Buckel. I don’t think the Rangers would hesitate to make that trade, which is precisely why it wouldn’t happen – the Rays wouldn’t get enough value. Elvis becomes a free agent in two years, and his agent is Scott Boras. Tampa Bay won’t want to extend Elvis to a huge contract. No, if this deal is done, it will likely include Profar (a player who Tampa Bay can control until 2019) and one of Perez or Buckel. The Rays have no need for Olt since he’d be blocked by Evan Longoria at third base. It’s probably Profar or nothing if the Rangers are going to trade for Price.
If that’s the price for Price, a legit ace, would the Rangers pay it? Do the Rangers need an ace in an already solid rotation? Do they need an ace more than they need a power bat in the middle of their lineup? These questions will be answered in the first half of this season, and the what the Rangers do – or don’t do – at the trade deadline will tell us the front office’s evaluation of the club.
Giancarlo Stanton: Stanton is one of the premier power hitters in baseball. A staggering 29% of his fly balls leave the yard. He’s only been in MLB for three years (amassing 13 WAR in that time) and he’s hit 93 home runs. All this in a home ballpark that suppresses home runs from right handers. He doesn’t have any persistent injury problems and he’s 23 years old, under control until 2017. He’s a dream player in the flesh.
The Rangers are one of the few organizations that has the pieces to get him. In order to convince Miami to unload Stanton, it would likely cost Profar, Olt, Perez and another top pitching prospect. Basically, the top-end of the farm. Would it hurt? Oh yes. Would it make the Rangers a threat to win the World Series for the next 4 years? Yes. The Rangers’ rotation is set for the next 3-4 years with live arms, backed by the best defensive infield in baseball (as long as Elvis’ contract is extended). Add Stanton’s production to an already quality lineup, and you’ve got the makings of a monster team once again.
Adding Stanton and extending Elvis’ contract would be very expensive, but that’s the price of playing ball these days. Hopefully the Rangers’ ownership would open their pockets and the money raised by the ever-increasing price of tickets and parking at Rangers games would be put to good use.
So, there you have it. All we can do now is wait to see which target is in the Rangers’ sights if and when the dry powder is finally put to use. It’ll be interesting to see if the Rangers bet on the potential of their prospects, or trade that potential for proven professionals.
The Rangers sign Matt Harrison to a 5 year, $55 million dollar deal
The deal is being universally praised as being fair for both sides. The contract breaks down like this: 2013: $5 million, 2014: $8 million, 2015: $13 million, 2016: $13 million, 2017: $13 million. Harrison got a $1 million signing bonus, and there’s also an option for a sixth year anywhere from $13.25 – $15.75 million, activated if Harrison pitches 200 innings in each the 2015-2017 seasons. If he doesn’t hit that mark, the Rangers can buy out the sixth year for $2 million.
The contract extension helps the two sides avoid arbitration, possibly at a slight discount to the Rangers if Harrison continues to pitch as well as he did in 2012. It rewards Harrison for his dedication to turning his career around after the 2010 season. It sends a signal to young pitchers and players in the Rangers’ pipeline that if you perform, they’ll reward you. It gives the Rangers club control over four members of the 2013 rotation for at least the next four years.
Man, that Mark Teixiera trade keeps looking better and better, and now it’s paying off for even longer.
Here’s something fun to think about: Zach Greinke will be paid $19 million in 2013 (before jumping to $26 million in 2014). For only $1.7 million more, the Rangers will field their 2013 rotation of Yu, Harrison, Ogando, Holland and Perez. Of course, the Rangers would love to have Greinke, but this comparison highlights the type of value the Rangers are getting out of their rotation in 2013.
Mike Napoli signs a 1 year deal with the Red Sox for only $5 million
Suddenly, the Rangers don’t look so silly for not submitting the 13.3 million qualifying offer. When it looked like the Red Sox would sign Napoli for 3 years and $39 million dollars, the Rangers’ front office was questioned for not submitting a $13.3 million offer that would have netted them a first round draft pick from the team that signed Napoli. Now, thanks to concerns about Napoli’s hip, it appears the Rangers might have dodged a bullet.
If the Rangers extended that offer, knowing that Napoli had a hip problem that could result in them paying $13.3 million for him to sit on the bench for much of 2013, they would have been foolish.
That’s not to say the Rangers didn’t want Napoli back at any price – actually Ben Rogers of ESPNDallas.com reports the Rangers offered more money in a one year deal, but Boston offered a more clearly defined role. Napoli is clearly looking to re-establish his value, and Boston provided more of an opportunity to do that. With Berkman slotted as the team’s DH and AJ Piersynzki behind the plate, I think Texas was content to hold on to memories of Napoli’s career year and wish him good luck in Boston. Napoli will be leaving Texas, likely regretting having turned down the 3 year, $38 million offer the Rangers extended after his 2011 season.
UPDATE: Jason Martinez of MLBDepthCharts.com reports that if he hits all his incentives, Napoli could be paid $13 million in 2013. It doesn’t change my opinion of the Rangers’ actions in this situation, but I’d be interested to know if the Rangers offered more guaranteed money, or if they offered comparable incentives.
UPDATE 2: According to Jim Duquette, Texas did not jump in and offer more money, so there’s that.