This time of year it always fun! The speculation sometimes can be overwhelming, yet exhilarating at the same time. And it’s nice when your team is involved in so much of the speculation, as the Rangers are.
With all the Hot Stove talk, I’m going to put my own plan/scenario out there for the 2012 Rangers.
- Extend Mike Napoli – Arbitration eligible this year, and free to walk after 2012. This guy became a fan favorite over the course of 4 months, and his development (at the plate and behind it) has been astounding. Nap should be the full-time catcher (as discussed in Episode 1), and locking him up now might bring some savings rather than waiting until the end of 2012 when the Rangers would have to deal with signing him in free agency.
- Extend Josh Hamilton – No need to elaborate on this one. The guy has been a huge part of the resurgence and like Nap, is a fan favorite. He needs to remain in a Ranger uniform throughout the remainder of his career for more reasons than production.
- Sign Prince Fielder – I’d love to see $147MM – $160MM over 7 years, but given Prince’s agent and the competition in the bidding, it may require upwards of $190 over 8 years. Prince will turn 28 this season, so that would lock him up through age 34-35, which should be right on the backslide of his prime years.
I think this move makes sense long-term as Prince will be ready to slide to DH right around the time that Michael Young is ready to retire (3-4 seasons?), which could allow Nap to transition to 1B permanently at the age of 33-34, which should help preserve him offensively.
- Trade David Murphy to Oakland for Andrew Bailey – may very well take a little more to make this happen, but I’d think it’d be a marginal prospect at best. Oakland has said that they want an OF in return for Bailey, and while it you don’t see inter-divisional trades that often, I think this make sense for both clubs (given the moves above). Bailey is another right handed arm in the bullpen (along with Adams and new closer Nathan), but gives you some insurance for Nathan and is someone that can close, so he could transition back into that role after 2013 when Nathan’s contract is up.
This move would mean that Mitch Moreland needs to work as an OF more frequently to maintain his usefulness with the big league squad. I think he’s capable.
- Let the current starting pitching rotation ride…for now – I want to see how Feliz is going to work out in the rotation and how Holland, Harrison, Ogando and company are going to continue to develop before throwing a big contract at CJ Wilson or Mark Buerhle. If we could get either of those guys at a good rate, I’d be all over it, but I think both are going to get contracts that are bigger than what the Rangers would be comfortable with.
If Feliz is not working out or injuries decimate the staff, then make a bold move before the trade deadline. The one thing the Rangers have a surplus of is strong prospects, which are better than money during mid-season deals.
I know this increases the payroll, but the time to strike is now, and the revenue generated over the last two seasons (playoff runs, increased fanbase) should be able to finance this.
Thoughts? Post comments and let me know what you think.