Offseason in Review: What the Rangers Didn’t Do
Koji Uehara Non-Trade
T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reported several times throughout the offseason that a variety of teams were in on Koji, but we also learned that he blocked a trade to the Jays and a trade to a “mystery team”. I’m of two minds here. The Rangers sounded like they wanted to get rid of Koji pretty badly, and that fit with a pattern of clearing out the less successful parts of the postseason bullpen. However, Uehara is a terrific reliever, and is likely to be terrific again in 2011.
I’m glad he’s still on the team, because I think he has a good chance of being very effective. However, I’m disappointed the Rangers weren’t able to follow-through on their plans to trade him, because I think it destabilizes players to ride the emotional roller-coaster of trade rumors. Given that the onus is on them to trade Koji, the return in young talent might not have been all that significant anyway, so I can’t say I’m hugely disappointed about that either. I’ve written about trading Uehara here, so I won’t go into it further.
I’m going to go ahead and give this a B-. I like the outcome, but I don’t like that the Rangers look ineffectual.
The negotiations for C.J. Wilson were some of the strangest of the offseason. I had expected the Yankees and Red Sox to start a bidding war, in order to solidify their otherwise weak rotations; instead, they both completely ignored him. In fact, the Yankees were so uninterested they rejected Wilson’s request to visit the Yankees in New York, according to Andrew Marchand of ESPN. The Rangers also seemed out of the race, submitting their offer last, and, according the Jon Heyman of CBSSports, it was in the range of $60 million/4 years. Meanwhile, the Marlins and the Angels both went full speed ahead, with the final contract at $77.5 million/5 years.
Simply put, signing free agent pitchers over 30 is a process fraught with peril. In fact, large contracts to players over 30 are often problematic regardless of position. But pitchers seem to have it especially bad. Names such as Barry Zito, Johan Santana, A.J. Burnett, John Lackey, and Derek Lowe come to mind. The Rangers have had some of their own problems with these contracts, signing Vincente Padilla and Kevin Millwood to ultimately disastrous results. Instead of matching or exceeding the Angels contract, the Rangers decided to drop an extra $30 million or so and get a pitcher who is 6 years younger, but with no major league experience. Frankly, I like the pursuit of high-ceiling talent, and I think this has a great chance of paying off.
I’m not sure the Rangers really had much of a choice here, given how astronomical the bidding was. I’m just glad they didn’t end up with Prince.
Grade: W (Withrawal)
During same Jim Bowden interview of Assistant G.M. Thad Levine, he indicated Rangers will be present at any workouts Oswalt holds, possible in an effort to secure him at midseason if Feliz is approaching his innings limit, which Levine speculated would be in the area of 140-160. Considering Oswalt’s unique situation where he had demanded to play in either St. Louis or Texas, it makes sense that Texas would wait him out until they have a rotation spot available.
Matt Garza Trade
The Rangers were not seriously involved in trade talks for Garza. Around the New Year, David Kaplan of CSN Chicago described the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Yankees as being heavily involved, but the Cubs asking price was “incredibly high”. Now, GM Jed Hoyer (also reported by David Kaplan) is stating that the Cubs have decided to try to extend him instead. My guess is that the Cubs prefer to hold on to Garza and try to trade him at the deadline, when there might be more of a market for his services. I greatly prefer Darvish to Garza, and an ‘incredibly high’ prospect price does not sound like something the Rangers should be involved in.
Overall, it seems like the Rangers didn’t really miss any opportunities, apart from failing to sign a couple breakout players to team-friendly extensions. They did, however, manage to avoid doing anything stupid. In baseball as in life, that’s just as important as being smart.