If Mike Gonzalez returns he will likely be the most expensive of any LHP the Rangers would use this year. As a Scott Boras client he will likely want an increase in his previous deal which was 2 years for $12 million. The question that must be asked is this, is a situational southpaw worth that much? The 33 year old joined the Rangers on August 31, 2011 in a trade with Baltimore that ultimately sent Pedro Strop to the Orioles. In the time he spent with the Rangers he pitched a mere 7 innings with 5 hits, 5 strikeouts, 3 walks and 4 earned runs. Not exactly shut down numbers. For his time with Baltimore in 2011 he threw 46.1 innings, had a WHIP of 1.381 and 7 homeruns and 26 runs.
Newly signed Joe Beimel joins the Rangers from the Pirates. There the 34 year old LHP pitched 25.1 innings with a WHIP of 1.697. He gave up 6 home runs and 17 runs. His SO/BB ratio was 1.89 and recorded no saves but had both a single win and a single loss. He also spent parts of 2011 in the minors and pitched a combined 7.1 innings in minor league ball. The big plus for him is he is a veteran and he will be cheap at less than a million dollars.
Michael Kirkman is the first of the homegrown talent that should be considered. The 25 year old joined the Rangers by way of the 5th round of the 2005 MLB draft. Kirkman has spent parts of the last two years in the majors. His 2011 time with the Rangers involved throwing 27.1 innings and having a WHIP of 1.390 and an ERA of 6.59. He also allowed 22 runs and 5 homeruns and had a SO/BB ratio of 1.75. In 2011 he was also at Round Rock where he pitched 73 innings and an ERA of 5.05 and WHIP of 1.699. He makes most of the Rangers prospects lists around 10th.
Robert Ross is the second of the prospects that could fit the bill for a LHP. Ross joined the Rangers in the 2nd round of the 2008 draft. The 22 year old is the youngest of those that could be looked at as well as having no experience above the AA level, although he did receive an invitation to the Major League Spring Training camp. In 2011 he split time between High A Myrtle Beach and AA Frisco. He was strictly a starting pitcher with those leagues but would not be the first starter that the Rangers put in the pen for a while. Ross comes in most prospect lists around 5th in the organization. I personally feel that he needs time in AAA before he should be considered.
With the talent that the Rangers have available I would hope that a deal could be done to move Uehara and put Beimel and Kirkman in the bullpen to fill the roll. I think that Gonzalez will likely be too expensive to return and if he did his numbers do not reflect the price tag associated with him at this stage. Kirkman needs to be on a short leash this year but I feel he is talented enough to bounce back this year. I purposely did not include Martin Perez as I think he should be viewed as the next probable Rangers starter. If he is to succeed I think it will be as a starter not as a reliever.
As Always, Go Rangers!