We all love Thanksgiving. One of my favorite features of turkey day is the endless food options. There is never enough room to get all the sides in next to the absurd amount of turkey on my plate. Unfortunately in baseball one cannot go back to the hot stove for seconds, your team gets one shot. There have been big moves early in this offseason. With the Ian Kinsler for Prince Fielder trade and Brian McCann going to the Yankees, Texas has some big choices to make. The Angels are making moves and rumor has it Seattle will as well. Texas still has some potential holes to fill. Now that some choice offerings are off the table what are Jon Daniels’s options to go on his plate next to Prince Fielder?
Texas presumably would like to strengthen their offense and their catching. A McCann signing would have been a huge improvement in both respects. Now that he is off the market where can Texas go? One option is to grab one of the next best catchers, but other options include using Geovany Soto as an everyday catcher and acquiring offensive help in the outfield. Since offense has been acquired at first base the Rangers’ positions of need are catcher and left field.
The catching market is thin behind McCann with the next best option being Jarrod Saltalamacchia, a former Ranger. Saltalamacchia is a significant step down from McCann although he is a left handed swinger as well. Saltalamacchia is not known as a great defensive catcher. He can really hit righties but has always struggled with left handed pitching. This means he could be a good option in a platoon with Soto. It is unclear how open the front office will be to signing another one dimensional lefty like Saltalamacchia since it appears they have tired of Moreland as an everyday option with the acquisition of Prince Fielder.
Another option is bringing back A. J. Pierzynski. Pierzynski was solid, if uninspiring, in Texas last year. He was respectable but it seems clear that everyone was hoping for more from him after his career 2012 season. Now that Texas has another middle of the order power bat to go with Adrian Beltre, A.J. could go farther down in the order with Alex Rios where he belongs. Asking him to hit in the three hole or hit cleanup is too much to ask.
After these two the rest of the catching pool strikes me as back up caliber guys. Names like Kelly Shoppach, John Buck, Dioner Navarro, Humberto Quintero and Kurt Suzuki would all be available cheaply and would give Texas a backup for Soto.
If Jon Daniels wants to do better than Saltalamacchia or Pierzynski, and we hope he does, then he should turn to the outfield. His outfield options are much more appetizing. Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin Soo-Choo, Nelson Cruz and Carlos Beltran all remain unattached. Each of these players could play left field although each one is likely to be more expensive than either Saltalamacchia or Pierzynski. Ellsbury and Choo should command over 100 million each and Cruz is said to be seeking 4 years and 75 million which would be no bargain for the 33 year old. Beltran would likely cost 3 years and 45 million or more, making the veteran the most cost effective option. Texas has been linked to each of these players as a possible landing spot. This comes as no surprise as Texas is rumored to be in on almost every possible player over the past few off seasons.
An addition consideration is the financial situation for the Rangers. Jon Daniels’s stated budget is around 125 million, based on the fact that he claims to want a similar team salary as last year. The team is probably between 110 and 115 million as currently constructed so if we believe Daniels’s statements we would expect Texas to be pretty quiet the rest of the offseason. Ellsbury and Choo are likely to cost 25 million a year, so signing either one would put Texas over their projected budget. Cruz or Beltran are still possibilities within the budget.