With a night to sleep on it, a little perspective added, and a well-needed infusion of logic, I’m over the Rangers failing to sign Zack Greinke.
This is 2012. The acquisition of Greinke would have made the Rangers a better team — I don’t think that’s debatable — but his absence from next year’s roster isn’t the difference between us being lousy and perhaps reeling in our third American League West title in four years or not. Our window of success is far from closing.
But since he’s off the grid, now is as good a time as any to move on and begin discussing what other options loom on the horizon.
As it stands today, having signed only Joakim Soria and Geovany Soto, while shedding about $6 million from Michael Young‘s contract, the Rangers payroll is hovering in the $105 million range (given the assumed arbitration salaries from a few players). If the 2013 budget is static somewhere between $130-$135 million, that leaves us with roughly $30 million of room to work with.
Along with our abundance of Minor League trade assets, that figure should be plenty to accomplish everything the front office needs to accomplish.
If our main priority is signing a top-of-the-rotation starter, James Shields should be right at the top of our list (as has been reported by Jeff Wilson). Shields has two options for 2013 and ’14, for $9 million and $12 million, respectively — extremely cheap given the 4+ fWAR seasons he’s produced the last two years.
That would bring our payroll up to $114 million, $16-$21 million below budget.
If priority #2 is to bring in a middle-of-the-order bat, like Justin Upton, perhaps, that would probably cost us Elvis Andrus (let’s say, for the sake of simplicity). So we’ll add on Upton’s $9.75 million price tag in 2013, and subtract the $4.8 million Andrus is owed, leaving with an addition of roughly $5 million.
That would bring our payroll up to $119 million, $11-$16 million below budget.
The next phase brings us into something of a hazy stage. This is where I’m going to ask that you suspend disbelief, at least a little. The Rangers will trade Nelson Cruz, shedding his $10.5 million owed in 2013, and to whichever team we trade him to, the return will be minimal.
This would bring our 2013 payroll down to about $109 million, $21-$26 million below budget.
Then, we’ll have enough capital to sign a player like Nick Swisher. If the last three years are any indication, where Swisher has produced 4.1, 3.8 and 3.9 fWAR, respectively, he seems like a pretty safe bet to do the same in Arlington. If we assume the cost of each win (or WAR) is about $5 million, basic algebra dictates that Swisher is technically worth $20 million per year, annually. I’m not implying that’s what the Rangers will give him. But for reality’s sake, let’s say the Rangers offered him a 4-year, $60 million deal. That’s $15 million average annual value (AAV).
If the money is evenly dispersed amongst four years, that brings our payroll up to $124 million, $6-$11 million below budget. In this case, that seems like a pretty fair way to sign a cheap catcher (like Kelly Shoppach) and a reliever which you may now insert here ____ .
If you have a disinclination not to sign a guy like Swisher, that’s fine. The national media has done a pretty fair job during his career to paint him like an arrogant jackass. But if you consider that he has the ability to adequately handle right field (in Cruz’s place), as well as first base (on days Mitch Moreland isn’t starting), then $15 million seems like a pretty good deal, especially on a 4-year contract. He’s been particularly consistent as a hitter during his career, posting more than 124 wRC+ (where 100 is average) each year since 2009. After all, he still is in the prime of his career.
Again, I will disclaim that this is all mostly conjecture, but it saves us from breaking the bank on Josh Hamilton, and satisfies our need in the pitching and hitter departments. We’d have a potential stud in Justin Upton, a solid #2 behind Yu Darvish in James Shields, and give us a good complementary piece with Nick Swisher.
That would leave us with a potential lineup of:
Kinsler – 2B
Swisher – LF/1B/DH
Upton – RF
Beltre – 3B
Murphy – LF/DH
Moreland/Olt – 1B
Shoppach/Soto – C
Profar – SS
Martin/Gentry – CF
I think I could live with that.