Offseason Outlook: Texas Rangers

Next up in our Offseason Outlook series, the Rangers.  Their likely commitments for 2010:

C – Jarrod Saltalamacchia – $411K
C – Taylor Teagarden – $401K 
1B – Chris Davis – $407K
2B – Ian Kinsler – $4MM
SS – Elvis Andrus – $400K
3B – Michael Young – $16MM (partially deferred)
IF – Joaquin Arias – $402K
LF – David Murphy – $415K
CF – Josh Hamilton – $555K+
RF – Nelson Cruz – $408K
OF – Brandon Boggs – $409K
OF – Craig Gentry – $400K
DH – Julio Borbon – $400K

SP – Kevin Millwood – $12MM
SP – Scott Feldman – $435K+
SP – Derrek Holland – $400K
SP – Tommy Hunter – $401K
SP – Brandon McCarthy – $650K+

Other rotation candidates: Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, C.J. Wilson, Dustin Nippert, Guillermo Moscoso, Eric Hurley

RP – Frank Francisco – $1.615MM+
RP – C.J. Wilson – $1.85MM+
RP – Darren O'Day – $406K
RP – Dustin Nippert – $412K+
RP – Neftali Feliz – $400K
RP – Doug Mathis – $400K
RP – Willie Eyre – $410K

Other bullpen candidates: Guillermo Moscoso, Warner Madrigal, Pedro Strop

Other commitments: Frank Catalanotto – $2MM, Vicente Padilla – $1.75MM

That's roughly $44MM committed before arbitration raises to Hamilton, Feldman, McCarthy, Francisco, Wilson, and Nippert.  I have German as a non-tender, but you never know.  The raises plus money owed to Catalanotto and Padilla should put the Rangers in the low-$60MM range.  They entered 2009 with a $68.2MM payroll according to Cot's Baseball Contracts, and's T.R. Sullivan says it will be around $68-70MM again despite the team's unsettled ownership.  I'd say the Rangers have $10MM to spend at most, but a year ago we learned that Young is really getting about $12MM per year.  Factoring that in would give the Rangers another $4MM to work with.

Sullivan wrote a week ago that a right-handed bat is a high priority for Rangers GM Jon Daniels.  Re-signing Marlon Byrd would be one solution, while Sullivan suggested Jermaine Dye, Marcus Thames, Vladimir Guerrero, Gary Sheffield, Troy Glaus, and Fernando Tatis could also fit.  We listed a bunch of right-handed power options a month ago.  We know that Cruz and Hamilton will take two of the Rangers' outfield spots; Daniels could look to improve upon Borbon at DH and/or Murphy at left field.

Cubs switch-hitter Milton Bradley could be the answer, if the Rangers can whittle the $21MM commitment down to $5-6MM.  The idea of involving Millwood's contract has already been shot down.  The Rangers also may look to acquire a backup catcher, with re-signing Ivan Rodriguez a possibility.

As for the pitching staff, Sullivan considers it the Rangers' "strongest area of depth."  As you can see, their rotation is overflowing with candidates, though many are unproven.  Sullivan feels that shopping the arbitration-eligible McCarthy would be wise.  Should Feliz or Wilson be given the team's fifth starter job, the Rangers would probably look to augment their bullpen with a free agent or two. 

Ben Sheets would be a rotation wild card.  There's little harm in rekindling discussions with him, since it'd likely be an affordable one-year deal.  But we could easily see talents like Feliz and Holland erase rotation concerns in 2010.

The Rangers were not an offensive powerhouse in 2009 – their .320 team OBP ranked 12th in the AL.  Subtracting Hank Blalock and giving Davis a shorter leash should help there, as would getting more out of Kinsler, Hamilton, and Saltalamacchia.  If a couple young arms break through in 2010, the Rangers should compete.  Daniels doesn't have a ton of free cash, but he only needs to make minor additions.

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