In an attempt to quench the appetite of a starving Rangers fan base in desperate need of some good news, or, rather, any news at all, this good Friday has done just that.
Last night a little after midnight, news hit the wire from Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal that the Rangers have “serious interest” in free agent designated hitter David Ortiz, who’s spent the better parts of the last decade mashing the ball around Fenway Park in Boston. Just how much interest that is remains to be seen, but if we’ve learned anything from the Rangers front office over the last several years, it’s that most of their moves tend to remain deep under the rug until the moment they actually happen, and that if information like this happens to get out there, it’s generally intentional and calculated.
From the instance it was known Elvis Andrus would be replacing Michael Young (after an undeserving Gold Glove season) at shortstop, Young voiced his displeasure through the media. And again the following year, when Adrian Beltre was signed to a lucrative contract, thus moving Young off third base and into a designated hitter role, Young took his talents to the media and complained, drawing General Manager Jon Daniels into a situation where a trade seemed very likely. Nothing materialized, and Michael Young had one of his most successful seasons offensively in 2011.
In 2012, it was a different matter. Perhaps Young, the purported Face Of The Franchise, had an extra chip on his shoulder in 2011 which drove him to such heights, but in 2012 he was statistically the least valuable player of any position in all of baseball, netting -1.4 fWAR in 156 games and 651 plate appearances. He finished the season at a triple slash line of .277/.312/.370, a wRC+ of 78 and wOBA of .297.
Oh yeah, and he made more money than anyone on the roster last year.
To have this information come out now could send a clear signal that the Rangers franchise is preparing to cut ties with the old veterans, as Josh Hamilton is, also, all but certain to be leaving. I can’t fathom a scenario where the Rangers brass would be ignorant enough to believe that openly looking to acquire a DH from the open market, Michael Young’s position, wouldn’t hurt his feelings, as he’s historically been sensitive to this type of information spreading through the media.
Secondly, as no real surprise, the Rangers have extended a qualifying one-year, $13.3M offer to Josh Hamilton, meaning if (or when) he signs with another organization, the Rangers will receive a first round draft pick as compensation. The chances of Hamilton accepting the one-year offer are infinitely minimal, as he will almost certainly net between $5M and $10M more per year for several more years on the open market, a figure the Rangers simply will not be able to compete with. At the end of the day, it’s all business, and Jon Daniels and company have shown no signs that they will be willing to match what is expected to be something in the 6 years and $150M range for Hamilton’s services.
I mean, if they were interested, he likely would have already been locked up by now.
What is a minor surprise, at least from where I’m sitting, is that the Rangers didn’t offer the same one-year, $13.3M qualifying offer to free agent catcher Mike Napoli. Yes, Napoli had a down year in 2012, but with how thin the catching market is, it behooves the Rangers to at least take a serious look at re-signing him, as has been reported. If Mike Napoli is not retained, it will force the Rangers to go out and look for another catcher, likely via trade, and there just isn’t a whole lot out there unless they decide it’s worth it to drastically overpay for Toronto’s top prospect, Travis d’Arnand.
The final news of the day should come as no real shock. Alexi Ogando, who spent the majority of the 2011 season as a starter, and morphed back to the bullpen in 2012, will again be a member of the rotation in 2013. It looks like a move to get one of the Rangers better power arms into the 5th slot in the rotation, at least until Colby Lewis back and healthy (assuming he makes it back to that point), which will add a ton of surplus value to Ogando’s final pre-arbitration season. Starting pitching is the most valuable position on the roster, and Ogando seems like the type who could, at the very least, string together a season along the lines he had a couple years ago.
If the Rangers somehow manage to sign Zach Greinke through free agency, or acquire a talent of the David Price ilk, it will give Texas one of the more formidable rotations in baseball, featuring Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando alongside the potential of one of the two aforementioned pitchers above. And who knows, maybe the Rangers won’t be looking to add anything on the pitching front, and instead choose to roll with Martin Perez as the 5th man.
A lot remains to be proven, as we are at the most infantile stages of the offseason at this point. But this is news, nonetheless, and it’s pretty clear that, if nothing else, the dominoes have begun to fall.