The Texas Rangers have a lot of holes left to fill in their 2015 roster, and an uneventful week of Winter Meetings brought the team no closer to addressing those needs. After unfruitful discussions with the Padres about Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross, and talks with Arizona about Wade Miley ending with the lefty heading to Boston, Evan Grant encountered a “grumpy” Jon Daniels on Tuesday clawing at a tangerine.
A look at the Rangers’ current projected depth chart, via MLB.com, helps explain Daniels’ mood. Slotted into the starting lineup in Left Field is Jake Smolinski, followed by Ryan Rua. Nick Tepesch, Nick Martinez, and Lisalverto Bonilla are penciled in as starting rotation slots #3-#5. Matt Harrison, coming off his third back surgery (spinal fusion!) in the past two years, and Martin Perez are pipe dreams at this point, with Harrison’s return date anyone’s guess, and Perez out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery this past May. So, yeah, there’s some room for improvement here.
The Rangers did acquire lefty Ross Detwiler from the Nationals, but he hardly seems like team’s third starter. The team met with representatives for James Shields, but Daniels admitted signing him was “unlikely.” The Rangers don’t seem to be in on the Max Scherzer sweepstakes. Miley would have been a good fit, but Daniels apparently couldn’t make that work. Masterson, too, for that matter, would have been a decent buy low option. As for what’s left, the Rangers could, conceivably stand pat and hope against the odds that Harrison comes back sooner rather than later. Daniels could take a flier on a guy like Brett Anderson or Gavin Floyd. Jake Peavy could be a stopgap that would make some sense. Aaron Harang, Edinson Volquez, and Roberto Hernandez all need a home. For a team that’s short at least two quality starters, these aren’t exactly attractive options.
Now, there are good starters still to be had, but they’re likely to cost the Rangers. Maybe more than they’re willing to pay. Johnny Cueto, for instance, would likely require at least Rougned Odor or Jurickson Profar as the centerpiece, plus a couple prospects, and there’s no indication so far Daniels would be willing to do that. Now, if Daniels were to dangle Elvis Andrus, there might be a discussion. The Reds seem to like Zach Cozart, but he hit a cool .221/.268/.300 last year, and that’s just not a big league hitter. The Rangers seem to like Andrus quite a bit, but a rotation that starts with Yu Darvish, Cueto, and Derek Holland sounds pretty good, too! That said, Daniels inactivity thus far, with several quality pitchers available, seems to suggest he’s more likely to stand pat and go with Darvish, Holland, the recently resigned Colby Lewis, Detwiler, and one of Tepesch/Martinez/unsigned free agent as his rotation, with the hope that Harrison comes back soon.
As for the the gaping hole in left field, Daniels has said he’s comfortable going into the season with some combination of Smolinski/Rua/Michael Choice rotating between left and DH. If you’re a Rangers fan, you hope that’s not really the case. The team let Alex Rios walk, presumably because he’s too expensive, so they’re not looking to take on a lot of salary at this point. One thing that does jump out is the Red Sox’ crowded outfield, even after the Cespedes trade. At least two of Shane Victorino, Mookie Betts, Allen Craig, Daniel Nava, Rusney Castillo, and Hanley Ramirez don’t have a spot. Victorino is due $13 million in 2015, but if the Sox are willing to eat half the money in exchange for a guy like Luke Jackson and/or Nomar Mazara, it seems like the Rangers should be willing to listen. It would give the Rangers a pretty impressive defensive outfield, and a guy that can hit near the top of the lineup. If not Victorino, Allen Craig is a good buy-low candidate, and all indications are that the Red Sox wouldn’t need to be overwhelmed to move him.
Whatever Daniels was thinking when he was brutalizing that tangerine, it does seem as if he’s frustrated with his current team’s makeup. Given his track record, it seems likely he’ll do something interesting before too long.Next post: EW Rewind: Episodes 5 and 6
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