Last summer, while it never came to a roar, there was quite a bit of buzz about the Rangers possibly being interested in making Cliff Lee a Ranger again. The Rangers are still looking for a one-two punch at the top of their rotation and since they didn’t win the Zack Greinke sweepstakes, Lee would be a good replacement. Now before you start screaming at me for the money aspect of Lee and that outrageous contract, there is already money in play between the Rangers and Phils as the Rangers agreed to pick up part of the recently traded Michael Young. So since we have already budgeted that money going out, they can work out the finer points with the Lee contract so that maybe no money changes hands at all. The Rangers come out on the losing end of that proposition, but it still would be some sort of psychological discount at this point. After that, that is where it gets a little dicey.
Who would we trade to get Lee? Because of the age of Michael Young, it still makes some sense for the Phillies to want Mike Olt. He would be their third base guy of the (near) future. But I don’t know that this wouldn’t be the place to ship Elvis Andrus. Jimmy Rollins has been oft-injured and has just turned 34 and no matter their insistence on keeping him this winter, the front office is crazy if they think there is any chance they will want to meet the Scott Boras asking price when Tiny E’s contract is up. Especially if he puts up similar or better numbers in 2013.
Based on our off-season, the window everyone spoke of being open for the Rangers for years, appears to be only slightly open this year. While the Angels signing Hamilton was a painful blow to us, it didn’t necessarily hand the AL West title to them, but yesterday’s Morales-Vargas trade with the Mariners makes them better for sure. Then there are the A’s. Nobody has any idea if those guys can play over their heads again for another 162 games. A trade for Lee signals the rest of the division that we are not going to let the window close. Lee has two more years left on his contract (the most expensive ones) with a damning vesting option in 2016. But Lee is a pitcher and uses his brain as much as his arm which means barring some catastrophic injury, should be solid for duration of his contract. At worst he moves from our #2 starter to our #4 over the course of his stay here. We are looking for some clubhouse stability right now and Lee can provide some of that. Not to mention how he helped our younger pitchers in his short stay here.
I know that Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan wanted to send a message in the off-season that we were far from done. The clear opportunities to do that eluded us. So why don’t we make our own opportunity. We had already set aside some cash for the off-season that doesn’t look like it’s going to be spent anyway.