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These are my opinionated three best and worst transactions by the Texas Rangers in recent memory. None of these are in order of priority, but with the recent overall success of the organization over the past few years, I feel like I should point out some of the best and worst.
To start off, let’s get the bad out of the way.
Adrian Gonzalez Trade
This one is by far Jon Daniels’ worst trade in his tenure as general manager of the Texas Rangers. It can be argued that this trade set the Rangers back a couple years, as they dealt Adrian Gonzalez, starting pitcher Chris Young and outfielder Terrmel Sledge to the San Diego Padres for starting pitcher Adam Eaton, reliever Akinori Otsuka and minor league prospect Billy Killian.
Gonzalez was “blocked” by Mark Teixeira at first base in the Rangers’ organization in 2006, but has since become one of the best first basemen in the game. ESPN reported, at the time, that the Rangers threw Gonzalez into the deal because they were unwilling to deal catcher Gerald Laird.
Eaton was only able to start 13 games in a Ranger uniform due to health issues and ended up starting 30 games the next year for the Philadelphia Phillies. Otsuka gave the Rangers two solid seasons out of the bullpen and ended up being the better trade chip in the deal, posting a 2.11 ERA in 2006 and a 2.51 ERA in 2007. He saved 32 games for the Rangers in 2006.
Alfonso Soriano to the Washington Nationals
There are two ways to go with this one: 1) Ian Kinsler was ready to come up and was definitely the better fielding second basemen, but the Rangers could have moved Soriano to the outfield – which is what ended up happening to him anyway – and kept his potent bat in the lineup, or 2) the Rangers simply get a better return for the big fish they got in return of the Alex Rodriguez trade with the New York Yankees in 2004.
The Rangers also agreed to pay $67 million of what was left of the $179 million still owed to A-Rod of the 10-year, $252 million contract they agreed to with him in 2000.
Need I go further?
Signing Lance Berkman
In the offseason of 2012, the Rangers needed a designated hitter to come in and help solidify the No. 3 spot in the batting order after losing Josh Hamilton to the Angels. They went out and got… Lance Berkman.
Berkman had only played 32 games the year prior with the St. Louis Cardinals due to injury, as both of his knees were shot. He was pondering retirement when the Rangers talked him out of it with approximately 10 million big ones to come play for Texas.
The Rangers got 73 games out of the 37-year old Berkman, hitting .242 with six homers and 34 RBI.
Doing what it took to bring in Yu Darvish
This is a no-brainer.
A lot of skepticism came with this investment when it initially happened in 2012. The Rangers posted a reported $51.7 million just for the rights for a 30-day window to negotiate with the Japanese phenom. They eventually agreed with Darvish on a six-year, $60 million contract – the final year of the deal being voidable through playing incentives.
The Rangers success began when they focused on pitching, and Yu, Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Matt Harrison and a stout bullpen are proof of it. Darvish has gone 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA in 2012 and 13-9 with a 2.83 ERA in 2013, easily taking over as the ace of the staff.
He is under club control for at least three more years, and he looks primed for a Cy Young award, or two, in that timeframe.
Signing Adrian Beltre
The Rangers caused some controversy and stuck their necks on the line in 2011 when they signed third baseman Adrian Beltre to a five-year, $80 million contract with a vesting option for $16 million for the 2016 season.
They already had clubhouse and fan favorite Michael Young slotted at third base, but planned to move Young to a super utility/DH role. Young reportedly requested a trade when the move was made. When no trade was made, Young showed his leadership when he showed up in Spring Training and addressed the team, saying he was there to play baseball and worry about nothing else.
Beltre’s line since the signing: 2011 – .296 BA, 32 homers, 105 RBI; 2012 – .321 BA, 36 homers, 102 RBI; 2013 – .315 BA, 30 homers, 92 RBI.
You can argue, at this point, that Beltre is being underpaid.
Mark Teixeira Trade
This one tops all transactions in the Jon Daniels tenure, because what they lost by giving away Adrian Gonzalez in 2006, the Rangers gained that and much more in 2007 when they sent Teixeira and reliever Ron Mahay to the Atlanta Braves for catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, shortstop Elvis Andrus, and pitchers Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz and Beau Jones.
Texas revamped their farm system immediately, and they haven’t looked back since.
Harrison was the Rangers’ No. 1 starter last season and has won 48 games since becoming a Ranger. Andrus became the Rangers shortstop in 2009 and he has been there since. He was named to the All-Start team in 2010, and he signed an eight-year, $120 million contract extension with the Rangers in 2013.
Feliz is a fire-balling backend bullpen piece, and he looks to snag the closer role heading into the 2014 season.