This offseason, the Rangers shed some pretty big names – most notably Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, and Mike Napoli. Admittedly, 4 games into the 2013 season, it’s entirely too early to look at statistics, but it’s at least interesting to see how these players have started with their new clubs.
“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.
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.