Rangers President of Baseball Operations Jon Daniels entered the winter with a checklist that included addressing his club's glut of middle infielders, re-signing or replacing Nelson Cruz in the outfield, and upgrading at first base. And as MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth noted in a previous article, many of those objectives appear to have been met.
Shin-Soo Choo, inked earlier this month, should provide a major boost to the lineup of a team that's focused on winning now. A swift, high-OBP outfielder, he's a superior player to Cruz, who he'll likely replace in right field. In November, Daniels shipped Ian Kinsler to the Tigers for Prince Fielder and $30MM, landing a durable left-handed bat at first base, where his club has long lacked a traditional slugger type. The deal also freed top prospect Jurickson Profar to play second base full time, and he's expected to perform well. While Texas was a good offensive club in 2013, ranking eighth in the majors in runs, these moves vault the Rangers lineup into the game's elite tier. In addition, acquiring one of their big bats via trade means Texas surrendered just one draft pick.
The Rangers took on significant payroll and contract years with these deals, however. Many have questioned whether it was wise to give Choo, a 31-year-old whose power disappears against left-handed pitching, seven years and $130MM. Fielder, 29, slumped in 2013 to a .279/.362/.457 line, causing some to wonder whether he's becoming a good player who'll be paid like a great one. Even after receiving $30MM in the trade, Texas will still pay Fielder $138MM over the next seven years. The Rangers also missed out on Brian McCann, whose versatile skillset would have been an excellent fit for the Texas lineup. Instead, they re-signed Geovany Soto to handle their primary catching duties in 2014. Soto, 30, performed admirably as A.J. Pierzynski's backup last season but hasn't been a strong contributor in a full-time role since 2011.
Are these sensible moves for a team that's firmly in win-now mode? Or do you see Texas as having taken on too much risk this offseason?