Texas Rangers: Hot Stove talk
Today's position: Left field
Let's face it, with the trade of Ian Kinsler to Detroit for Prince Fielder, left field now becomes the club's biggest need to fill this offseason. Daniels and his staff acquired the power bat for the middle of the lineup that they desperately needed, but the GM made it clear last week that he's still seeking some offensive help.
David Murphy, who arrived at spring training as the every day left fielder last season, has departed for Cleveland. The Rangers have Craig Gentry, Leonys Martin and Alex Rios in the outfield and would like to add another bat to that group.
The good news: They've still got some choices. The bad news: It likely won't come very cheap. Expect to hear the Rangers' name tied to the remaining outfield free agents at next week's Winter Meetings. That list includes some big names, like Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury. As we've discussed on this blog this offseason, Choo makes sense in that he gets on base and hits well against right-handed pitching . ESPN.com's Sweet Spot blogger David Schoenfield has made the case that Texas needs Choo. The question becomes cost, of course. Choo could be looking at a six- or seven-year deal, maybe similar to Jayson Werth's $126 million over seven years that he got from the Nationals. And Choo would cost a draft pick, though the Rangers would get one back if Nelson Cruz signs elsewhere.
Ellsbury is another name that should command bigger bucks and it might be at a premium because he can play center field. With Martin showing he can handle the position, the Rangers could decide to just focus in on those who play mainly corner outfield in hopes that the cost might not be as high.
Carlos Beltran continues to search for a new home and is garnering interest from a wide range of teams, according to reports. That's not surprising. To me, Beltran is very attractive because he gives this team another bat that they need and would be on a shorter-term deal.
What about Cruz? He's still out there, though could be seeking a four-year deal worth $75 million or so. Would you pay that? I'm leery going four years for Cruz and it has nothing to do with PEDs. He's been on the DL a lot and turns 34 next year. I'm concerned he might break down. But the advantage to Cruz is that he's a player the Rangers know and he's clearly comfortable here.
There's also Nate McLouth, who intrigues the Rangers. He could be another affordable option, though he doesn't have the power numbers of some other possibilities.
Those are the kinds of decisions -- and that's just the free-agent pool, perhaps there's a trade deal that could be made -- that the front office will be exploring next week in Orlando.
What would you do about left field?
Today's player: Robinson Cano
The Rangers need offense. They need power. They need a No. 3 hitter. Or a No. 2 hitter. Cano, who has played all eight of his seasons with the New York Yankees, would provide all of these plus an above-average defender at second base.
The challenge with acquiring Cano is this -- the Yankees want him back and probably will give him a competitive deal. Probably not the 10-year contract for close to $300 million that Cano reportedly has asked the Yankees for in preliminary talks, according to ESPNNewYork.com. Remember, the Yankees are already saddled with bad contracts, the worst being Alex Rodriguez's, which could create an opening for a team that will give Cano a long-term deal.
Cano is 31. Giving him anything close to a 10-year deal is a risk -- just ask the Angels with Albert Pujols or Josh Hamilton.
The Rangers privately coveted Cano before the July 31 trade deadline this season as they were mired in the middle of the pack in the American League in runs scored and knowing they were about to likely lose Nelson Cruz to a suspension. According to a source, the Rangers called the Yankees about dealing for Cano, their "dream" acquisition. The Yankees, still in the wild-card race, told the Rangers that Cano was unavailable.
Cano has averaged 28 home runs the last five seasons and the left-handed hitter's swing should produce the same results at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and its short porch in right field.
He'll cost $22 to $25 million per season, but he's also by far the best impact bat out there, and the Rangers desperately need one of those. Even with a glut of second basemen with Ian Kinsler and Jurickson Profar, the Rangers will likely make a run at Cano.
Why he makes sense: Again, the Rangers need a No. 3 hitter desperately. Six different players started in that spot last season. The Rangers had a .725 OPS and 17 home runs from the three hole. Cano would be the perfect fit behind Kinsler and Elvis Andrus and batting in front of cleanup hitter Adrian Beltre.
Why he doesn't make sense: Contract length. We could be talking 10 years here. As good as Cano is, pulling the trigger on 10 years, nine years, eight probably isn't the wise thing to do. Anything over five years for Cano, even with his extraordinary talent, will come with some risk.
Bottom line: It'd be foolish not to explore the possibilities with Cano. There's not a free agent bat out there that can rival the ability of a player the Rangers nearly had a decade ago when they traded Rodriguez for Alfonso Soriano.
Today's player: Michael Bourn
So he's clearly not the same type of player that Josh Hamilton was in the outfield. Bourn does it more with his feet, and once he gets on base he's dangerous. But he's never been a power guy. In fact, his nine homers in 2012 are a career-high.
But for a Rangers team that didn't steal as many bases as expected in 2012 and had their running game a bit stifled, he would certainly provide a spark. Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus were co-leaders on the Rangers in stolen bases last season. Their combined total equals what Bourn did by himself in 2012. Bourn has 257 stolen bases since 2008, which leads the majors by a huge margin (the next guy on the list is more than 50 behind).
Texas managed to lead the AL in runs and Bourn wouldn't hurt in that department. He has scored at least 94 runs in three of his last four seasons (he had 84 in the other season) and had a whopping 61 stolen bases in 2011. Bourn made $6.84 million in 2012, by the way.
Bourn has played all three outfield positions in his career, though he's played by far the most in center field. He started 151 games at that position last year.
He did have 155 strikeouts, which was a career high, but still managed a .348 on-base percentage. It's worth noting that his OBP is similar to Andrus, who was at .349 in 2012. He could bat leadoff, which would mean Kinsler drops in the order.
Bourn is represented by Scott Boras, and after seeing B.J. Upton's deal, Boras will certainly want to see if he can get Bourn signed up for a higher amount (Upton was 5 years, $75 million). The Rangers and Boras have worked well recently, getting the deal done for Adrian Beltre prior to the 2011 season.
But how Bourn fits in is another matter. Does the club want to sign an outfielder who doesn't have much power to go along with the current group (especially after losing the power-hitting Hamilton)? It would require a hefty investment, too. And the club has already put some money and time into Leonys Martin as the club's future center fielder. That future could be now.
It's also worth noting, as a few of you have pointed out, that the Braves did give Bourn a qualifying offer, so they would get draft-pick compensation for him from whichever team that signs him. So like a few of the folks we've discussed of late, if the Rangers were to sign him, they'd be giving up a first-round draft pick. That's yet another potential hurdle.
What do you think about Bourn? Should the club go after him?
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.