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Friday, November 2, 2012
Rangers must prepare to make big changes

By Richard Durrett

A report that the Texas Rangers are interested in David Ortiz didn't really surprise me. After all, this club must prepare for altering the lineup in a pretty big way if Josh Hamilton leaves. And, as we've talked about on this blog before, it takes just one team to give Hamilton a longer-term deal that puts the Rangers out of their comfort zone and out of the running.

This is a front office that works on the assumption that checking into everything can only help yield possibilities to improve the club. If they think there's an avenue to make the team better, they'll check on it. They also must have a Plan B, Plan C and maybe even a Plan D should Hamilton leave. That starts by checking in on the available bats on the free-agent market. That could include Ortiz, though the safe bet remains that he'll find a way to reach an agreement with the Boston Red Sox, where he'd like to finish his career.

But the fact that the Rangers have reportedly shown interest is telling. It shows they are willing to explore various options that could truly shake up the lineup. Ortiz, who turns 37 later this month, won't be winning any Gold Gloves the next few years. He's a prime example of a primary designated hitter and the Rangers already have one of those: Michael Young.

Young could become more of a utility infielder, but that would vastly limit his at-bats if someone like Ortiz were in Texas. The club could try to trade Young, but that is also complicated. For starters, he'd have to approve any trade (he has 10-5 rights) and the Rangers would have to eat most of the $16 million remaining on his contract. But if a trade meant more playing time for Young elsewhere, perhaps he'd OK it.

Ortiz is a longshot, if you ask me, and it's more likely the club will get a bat that plays a position. And they'll need more than simply Ortiz if Hamilton leaves. But they need to do whatever they can to add production to the lineup. That includes dealing with the tough question on Young's playing time and his salary, even if it means looking at trade possibilities.