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Possible future home for Joey Votto?

2/6/2012

Joey Votto doesn't become a free agent until after the 2013 season. But ESPN.com's Sweet Spot feels it's never too early to look at the possible destinations for a top-notch player. So David Schoenfield took a look at six teams that could be go after Votto when he hits the open market. The Rangers, naturally, are one of them. Here's what he says:

Texas Rangers

First baseman: Mitch Moreland. When your first baseman bats ninth, he's usually replaceable.

Contracts off the books: Michael Young ($16 million per season through 2013); Joe Nathan ($7 million per year through 2013).

Analysis: For the Rangers, it's not quite as simple as eventually taking the salaries of Young and Nathan and giving that money to Votto. Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli are signed through 2012; Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz could become free agents after 2013. Some of the younger players like Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz will be entering their arbitration years and receive big pay increases. So the Rangers' payroll will increase even as they likely part ways with Young in a couple years. Still, the Rangers will have room to expand well beyond their estimated 2011 payroll of $93 million, especially when their new local TV deal kicks in in 2015.

The other teams listed:

Chicago Cubs

Los Angeles Dodgers

Seattle Mariners

St. Louis Cardinals

Toronto Blue Jays

Whether the Rangers get interested enough to pursue depends on what kind of season Mitch Moreland has, among other factors. The payroll will be increasing and even with the TV deal, they'll have to be smart in how they allocate funds. But it's a fun thing to toss around, even if it is a few years early.