The Rangers are next in our 2012 Contract Issues series. Here's what the team faces after the 2011 season:
Eligible For Free Agency (5)
- Starting pitcher C.J. Wilson is the Rangers' key free agent. The 30-year-old lefty has pitched well to start the 2011 season, trimming his walk rate in his first five starts. He figures to be a hot commodity if he reaches the open market. He talked to ESPN's Jayson Stark a couple of weeks ago about free agency, indicating that he'd like to stay in Texas.
- Brandon Webb remains a wild card. He is currently working in extended Spring Training, with a minor league rehab assignment the following step.
- Darren Oliver is the team's de facto closer while Neftali Feliz is out. If he can approximate his last couple of seasons the Rangers could look to retain him even at age 41.
- Long relievers Dave Bush and Brett Tomko are also eligible for free agency.
Contract Options (3)
- Arthur Rhodes: $4MM vesting option. According to Cot's, this option vests if Rhodes has 62 appearances and doesn't finish 2011 on the DL. He'll need 55 more appearances to get there.
- Colby Lewis: $3.25MM club option with a $250K buyout. So far this season Lewis has posted one decent start in four turns. Even with an off year, Lewis' $3MM net price would give him trade value at the least. If the Rangers decline the option they'd probably non-tender Lewis as well.
- Yoshinori Tateyama. I'm not sure the nature of Tateyama's option. At the moment, he's dominating at Triple-A.
Arbitration Eligible (8)
- First time: Andres Blanco, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison
- Second time: Nelson Cruz, David Murphy, Darren O'Day
- Third time: Mark Lowe
- Fourth time: Mike Napoli
This is a potentially expensive group. Napoli is off to a great start, but will the Rangers be comfortable paying him $8MM? A strong season could push Cruz close to $7MM. Murphy could get $4MM, while Andrus and Harrison could each reach $3MM. The arbitration eligible tab could approach $30MM, assuming Napoli is retained.
2012 Payroll Obligation
The Rangers' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $70.45MM if Lewis and Rhodes are retained. $30MM for arbitration eligibles puts them around $100MM, $8MM over this year's payroll. Just to retain Wilson, the Rangers will need to either raise payroll even higher or shed some salary elsewhere.