Reason To Be Concerned?

by Charles Parker on January 10, 2017

John Daniels said that his priority this offseason was to find more starting pitching, but so far, he has added only Andrew Cashner at a cost of around $10 million. He then signed Carlos Gomez to a 1-year deal worth about $9 million to fortify center field. Those are both very solid affordable options. However, when considering the payroll last year was about $153 million, and the loss of several players to free agency, the net effect of the 2-additions with the losses, is a payroll of about $125 million. Daniels also had previously stated that his intention was to keep payroll about where it was in 2016, which means the Rangers have about $28 million in flexibility.

Since Prince Fielder is effectively, injury/retired, and they have to hold open a spot on the 40-man roster or they lose $9 million in insurance money. That is a huge roster spot being filled until pre-season begin and he can be moved to the 60-day disabled list. Add to that the fact that Sin Soo Choo, has yet to play a full healthy season in Texas, makes one wonder if Daniels is now afraid of long-term contracts. For this season alone between Hamilton, Fielder, and Choo the team is on the hook for $32 million this season regardless if any of those three ever suit up to play.

Meanwhile, the team has lost Carlos Beltran, Ian Desmond, Colby Lewis, Mitch Moreland, Shawn Tolleson, plus Derek Holland.

The team does have depth; they have a stable of young talent just waiting to have their chance to play. The concern is that some of those players are not exactly what is needed. First base remains a glaring need unless you believe that Ryan Rua, Jurickson Profar, or Joey Gallo is ready to fill that job. Each of those guys has strengths, but they have some warts too. Let’s not forget that the Astros unceremoniously released Carlos Gomez last season because he suddenly could not hit the ball. This brings up a ton of questions at some key positions and meanwhile the Rangers have stockpiled salary, which makes one wonder why?

It could be because the Rangers intend to sign Yu Darvish to a long-term deal. Darvish will be a free agent at the end of the 2017 season and will likely be in the running for Clayton Kershaw type money of around $30 million a year. If the Rangers could sign him to 5-years at $25 million, that would be a bargain. After all, they have traded off their best pitching prospects to stay in contention and to get Cole Hamels. There is very little left in the farm system that is anywhere close to major league ready, and certainly nothing that compares to what Yu can do.

This is the back to back defending AL West Champions, but with spring training about a month away, there are holes, and there are concerns. The pitching staff beyond Hamels and Darvish looks weak, and this lineup lacks punch. As to bringing Mike Napoli back, that sounds great because the team needs a right-handed bat with some pop. However, Mitch Moreland was a less expensive option and a better fielder with a higher WAR than Napoli and they let Mitch go.

The direction Daniels is heading seems disjointed, and yes, there are concerns offering a long-term contract to Darvish who turns 30 this year. Everyone understands that, but he is at his peak now and certainly can dominate for the majority of any longer team deal. Daniels has produced miracles in the past, he has payroll flexibility, but what he lacks is known entities at some positions. The good news is that the team looks great in the bullpen, and most other areas. However, starting pitching is a premium position and always has been in MLB. For years, this franchised begged to have even one true Ace that is a starter. Now they have two and they need to keep them. We have all seen what happens to teams that lack that, we have seen Rangers teams that could have gone a long way with just one guy. Daniels shouldn’t be shy here, and he needs to develop amnesia with the recent past. Choo may have a breakout year, Hamilton may have something left to contribute, and if they sign Napoli, all will be very good.

Signing Darvish will reassure the other players that this team is not afraid to make the long-term deal, that they do have a future in Texas, it is good for team chemistry, and will secure the starting rotation for the next half a decade. To me this is a no-brainer, and I am not sure what Daniels is waiting on, but it is certainly causing concern about not just this season but also the future of the franchise.

Whatever the first workouts being February 15, and this is going to be another interesting and fun season!

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John Barfield was drafted by and played for the Texas Rangers in the late 80’s and early 90’s. He pitched e seasons for the Rangers, and Saturday night he was gunned down after an argument with an acquatience, according to sources. Barfield was 52. 

It is always a sad day if anyone is murdered. Barfield was, by all accounts, a good guy. Thoughts a prayers with his family during this difficult time. 

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