Monday, November 19, 2012
Hot Stove: Starting pitching thoughts
By Richard Durrett
In the aftermath of the Toronto Blue Jays' megatrade with the Miami Marlins, some of you wondered if the Texas Rangers would go after Ricky Nolasco, another higher-paid Marlins' player that could be shopped around (though there are reports he's likely to stay...we'll see).
The Rangers could use another starting pitcher. The rotation as it stands now: Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando. But when it comes to starters, I think you've got to focus on impact pitchers. Nolasco is a fine No. 4 or No. 5 starter. He was 12-13 with a 4.48 ERA with 125 strikeouts and 47 walks. He pitched 191 innings (31 starts).
But the problem is he's slated to make $11.5 million. That's too high a price to pay for a pitcher that won't, in my opinion, make the staff appreciably better. I'm all for adding depth, but not at $11.5 million.
I think the Rangers will shoot higher. The most attractive pitcher on the free-agent market is Zack Greinke. The 29-year-old made 34 starts between Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Angels last year. After struggling in his first few starts with the Angels, he finished the season strong. He has a track record and would really strengthen the rotation. But the Angels will be aggressive in trying to re-sign him and it's going to take a big investment to land him.
We'll look at some more pitchers in detail in the coming weeks, but Anibal Sanchez is still out there as well. He's no Greinke, but he would improve the overall rotation. He's had an ERA under 3.88 the past four seasons and finished in 2012 campaign with the Detroit Tigers, pitching well under pressure. He was 4-6 with a 3.74 ERA in 12 starts for them.
But Greinke's in such a good spot because he's clearly the top free agent pitcher. The Rangers have the minor league system to go out and try to make a deal through trades, if some top pitchers are made available. I've always been partial to James Shields, who would again be an example of someone who is a difference-maker that really improves the rotation. He was 15-10 with a 3.52 ERA just one season after going 16-12 with a 2.82 ERA. But the Rays may not want to deal him. You never know if they'd look at David Price, but that's when the name Jurickson Profar gets talked about (which I'm hesitant to do, but would discuss when it comes to top-flight starting pitching or, as we mentioned earlier, a guy like Giancarlo Stanton).
The Rangers will always look to add depth to the rotation and invite some guys for spring training in case plans change (like injuries, which always bite this team in spring training), but they're going to do that at the right price. As for what they'll try to do with the rotation this offseason, think bigger than Nolasco. If they do anything, I think it will be landing a truly impact starter.
What would you like to see the team do about its starting rotation? Stay tuned here on the blog this week and in coming weeks as we continue to break down some possibilities and discuss the Hot Stove as it relates to the Rangers.