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Rangers’ Trade Deadline Strategy Blueprint

With a record of 37-49, the Texas Rangers‘ 2014 season is all but lost. For all the hype and anticipation following the offseason acquisitions of Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo, things have gone too far south about as quickly as possible. 

That’s right. It only took 86 games to completely bury this team that was a legitimate World Series contender on March 31. The day the Rangers acquired Choo and completed a monstrous offseason agenda, you’d be hard-pressed to find one living soul who would honestly tell you that he or she predicted death that quickly.

Right now, the Seattle Mariners are 10 games ahead of Texas. Ten games.

When was the last time you could say that? 2001?

Something like that.

And now with the July 31 trade deadline approaching, it’s time for the Rangers to start selling some of the few attractive pieces they have on their roster.

We’ll go through each tradeable candidate and discuss how likely they are to be dealt. Since we are still over three weeks away from the deadline—and given general manager Jon Daniels’ history of pushing right up against the exact deadline before deals in the past have been completed—I won’t speculate too much on what each of these guys could bring back to Texas.

Here we go. 

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Texas Rangers Pitchers Could Benefit from New Protective Caps This Year

According to William Weinbaum of “Outside the Lines” on, Major League Baseball approved pitchers of all 30 teams to use new pad-protected caps on Tuesday morning.

This approval comes on the heels of five separate incidents of pitchers being hit in the head with a baseball between September of 2012 and June of 2013.

One of the most serious incidents came on September 5, 2012. Brandon McCarthy, a former Texas Rangers pitcher then with the Oakland A’s, was hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of shortstop Erick Aybar of the Los Angeles Angels.

McCarthy sustained a life-threatening brain contusion, an epidural hemorrhage and a skull fracture. He missed the rest of the 2012 season after undergoing major brain surgery. 

According to Weinbaum, the new caps are being manufactured by 4Licensing Company subsidiary isoBlox. The caps will be available to the players by the start of spring training in February. Their use is optional.

Weinbaum says that currently there is no rule regulating what type of protection pitchers can wear. As long as whatever they are wearing doesn’t directly interfere with play, it is acceptable. 

Weinbaum also reported that the new caps are more than a half of an inch thicker in the front and an inch thicker on the sides of the cap. They are manufactured to protect line drive speeds of up to 90 mph on front impact, and up to 85 mph impact on the side of the head. The thick padding in the cap’s interior is designed to absorb and disperse the force of an impact.

Dan Halem, MLB executive vice president for labor relations, told “Outside the Lines” that he is satisfied with the league’s new product.

We’re excited to have a product that meets our safety criteria. MLB is committed to working with manufacturers to develop products that offer maximum protection to our players, and we’re not stopping at all.

The MLB was looking for a product that guaranteed protection against the average off-the-bat line drive speed of 83 mph, Weinbaum reports. 

4Licensing Chief Executive Officer Bruce Foster is confident in the caps’ revolutionary ability to protect pitchers’ heads. Additionally, the caps aren’t expected to tamper with a pitcher’s natural throwing motion. How comfortable they may or may not be remains to be seen.

Looks are important to many major league players, but protection is the main priority here.

“What we’ve given [pitchers] is a product with protection they’ve never had before,” Foster said. “It changes the game for them.”

Despite excitement around the league’s offices, it will take time for major league pitchers to catch on to the new caps, according to Dave Schoenfield of SweetSpot Blog. Schoenfield says that while the recent head injuries have been serious, they aren’t nearly the widespread concern they are in a sport like football. 

He calls the development of the new caps a “no-harm, no-foul” situation. Pitchers will likely try out the new caps in spring training, and if they are comfortable with them they might stick with them. But if they aren’t, they’ll continue using the normal caps knowing that head injuries are very rare in the game.

For players then, the new caps could be a question of comfort and style versus safety.

This will be an incredibly interesting development to keep an eye on during spring training. Even though injuries happen in baseball just like in every sport, I’m all about maximizing player safety.

Safety is always a two-way street in baseball. It’s not just pitchers that are at risk here.

At the end of the day, the fact is that a batter never knows when a 102 mph fastball from Aroldis Chapman is going to rise just a bit too far high and in. Pitchers in this league are by and large phenomenally under control. They are professionals and that is why accidents rarely happen. 

Or you could have a situation similar to what happened in 2006, when Vladimir Guerrero smoked a line drive clocked at between 107 and 108 mph that nailed reliever Rafael Soriano in the temple. The speed was calculated and analyzed by Greg Rybarczyk, the creator of ESPN’s Home Run Tracker, reported Weinbaum.

Weinbaum also noted that pitchers have about one third of a second to dodge a screaming line drive 60′ 6″ away from home plate. Most guys have a natural fall off to either side of the mound in their delivery, which help them to avoid a blow.

But a pitcher’s delivery will generally move him between five to seven feet closer to home plate, giving him even less time to react, as former San Diego Padres and Rangers pitcher Chris Young describes in this video.  

As rare as they might seem, five incidents over an eight-month period is somewhat alarming. Something needs to be done to better protect pitchers especially, who are closer to a line-drive impact than any player on the field. 

I’d like to see all the Rangers starters wearing these new protective caps at some point in 2014. After all, the debilitating shoulder, elbow and back surgeries among Rangers pitchers over the last season and a half, the last thing Rangers fans want to see is another freak accident involving one of Texas’ key players. 

Again, it’s rare, but as they say in baseball “anything can happen.” That is one of the beauties of the game after all.



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Scott Baker Could Be Another Potential Bargain for Rangers

And we’re here at what seems to be the final stop on the train ride exploring all the available free-agent pitching options for the Texas Rangers. Johan Santana was Tuesday morning’s first attraction, and he’ll be followed by Scott Baker

Like Santana, Baker, 32, is looking to rebuild his market value following major surgery a couple of years ago, and he could end up being a steal for his new team. Do I have your attention Mr. Daniels? The Rangers should definitely be interested in this guy.

According to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish, the Seattle Mariners and Cleveland Indians are currently in the running to sign Baker. The Chicago Cubs are seeking to add a starting pitcher but are reportedly not interested in a reunion with Baker, per Jesse Rodgers of ESPN Chicago

That’s a shallow market for a guy who’s been pretty solid over his seven-plus-year career in the majors. It’s a perfect opportunity for the Rangers to join the running for him. 

Baker gets the job done with the classic fastball, changeup, slider and curveball repertoire. He’s not quite a “strikeout pitcher” but is rather well-rounded—a poor man’s version of Ervin Santana, perhaps. He misses a healthy amount of bats, is very controlled and generally stays under one hit per inning. 

He doesn’t have front-line stuff like Santana, but being able to pinpoint a 90 mph fastball can be just as effective as a loosely thrown 95 mph heater. Control and location usually trump velocity alone. Usually—because there are exceptions to this.

Baker isn’t a horse like other pitchers I’ve profiled, such as Santana or Bronson Arroyo, but he does seem to fit the mold of a back-end starter pretty comfortably. He’ll give you around 150 to 160 innings on average and will allow about the same number of hits, maybe slightly less. 

He’s made at least 21 starts in five of his last six full seasons, with the exception being last season. So he’s more than durable enough to handle a No. 5 spot in the Rangers’ rotation.

The Oklahoma State product consistently hit his corners and spots, and he won’t walk too many batters. He leans toward a fly-ball pitcher but isn’t terrifyingly home run susceptible. He pitched 200 innings in 2009 with the Twins and watched 28 balls leave the yard. That could be better, but it isn’t the worst total you’ve ever seen. 

He does get his share of ground balls with a quality changeup. The athletic Ranger defense would be behind him every step of the way.

The only substantial concern with Baker is his recent Tommy John surgery. He had the operation in mid-2012 and returned to pitch in the final month of 2013 with the Cubs. In 15 innings over three starts, he allowed six runs and posted a 3.60 ERA. Facing 57 hitters, he only gave up nine hits.

He’s completely healthy now, and with a full spring training under his belt, he should be a viable option for an Opening Day rotation.

If I were Jon Daniels, Baker would be on my short list of targets. I’d consider offering him a one-year deal in the neighborhood of $3 million to $4 million and maybe tag on a team option for a second year.

He’s a sensible option because he’s relatively cheap, gives you innings and can hold his own in those innings.

Baker is out to rebuild his value, so that price should be a fair offer for him to do so. He would be a nice, under-the-radar addition to the Rangers’ rotation.

Maybe Texas signs two Bakers this offseason? 


All stats courtesy of

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Johan Santana as a Possible Midseason Boost for Rangers’ Rotation?

Despite still being in the recovery process from his second shoulder surgery in 31 months, left-handed starter and former ace Johan Santana is drawing some interest on the free-agent market. 

The Texas Rangers should be carefully monitoring his situation and availability over the next few weeks. Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reported Monday that Santana is essentially a midseason option for the Rangers and other clubs who have expressed interest—notably the Minnesota Twins, who are trying to reinvent their rotation. 

Santana’s 2014 option with the New York Mets was bought out at the end of last season. He won’t be ready to go until the summer, but is available and should be at a fairly low price considering his situation.

If the Rangers are really searching for a bargain, Santana could be an answer. The two-time American League Cy Young winner is just 34 and it’s a good bet he still has something left in the tank. 

Santana has been one of baseball’s best changeup artists over the last decade. When healthy, his stuff is absolutely filthy. He’ll pair his circle changeup, which might have been the best pitch in baseball as recently as 2007, with a sharply tailing fastball in the low 90s.

He also throws a high-80s cutter with a late bite as well as a plus slider that is lethal to hitters on both sides of the plate.

Yes, there is a reason this guy won two Cy Young Awards with the Twins in 2004 and 2006. His repertoire may not be quite as breathtaking as it used to be, but it still figures to be well above average when he returns to the mound.

Over his career, Santana’s two major hallmarks have been his uncanny control as a strikeout pitcher and his effectiveness in throwing to both sides of the plate.

Since 2004, Santana has pitched four seasons of at least 225 innings while walking under 65 batters. He also fanned 206 or more hitters in each of those four campaigns. Over the last eight seasons, his average strikeout-to-walk ratio is an astounding 3.98. That average includes his disappointing 2012 season.

Command has never been an issue for Santana, even after he returned from his first major shoulder surgery in 2013. When he’s healthy, expect to see control closer to his 2006-08 numbers.

The Venezuela native has actually been more effective against right-handed batters during his major league tenure. Right-handed hitters have a slash line of .225/.281/.364 while lefties can only claim a .240/.293/.384 line.

This is a testament to Santana’s pure stuff. His exceptional movement to both sides of the plate keeps everyone off-balance.

With the exception of 2012, Santana hadn’t finished a season with an ERA higher than 3.33 in the last nine yearsa majority of which was spent pitching in the AL. 

It also doesn’t hurt that he seems to have been a very likable teammate wherever he’s gone.

Obviously, the red flag with Santana is his injury record. In 2009, he was shut down in August to repair bone chips in his left shoulder. He pitched well until September of 2010, when he tore the anterior capsule in the same shoulder.

After missing the entire 2011 season, Santana got the Mets’ Opening Day 2012 start against the Atlanta Braves, punching out five batters in five scoreless innings.

On June 1, 2012, Santana displayed his resiliency to the world by throwing a no-hitter against the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. After that memorable start, he trudged through the rest of the season and tore his anterior capsule for the second time in April of 2013. 

Santana hasn’t pitched since. 

This is why he might be had for a bargain price.

I haven’t seen any reported figures, but would expect that Santana isn’t due for anything more than a one-year deal with a possible option for a second. The average annual value shouldn’t be too much for any club.

Whichever team signs him will be taking a gamble, but rest assured, if he is just 70 percent of what he was in 2008, that team will be getting a pretty good pitcher for the second half of 2014.

From the Rangers’ stance, Santana could slot in as a No. 5 very nicely when he returns. The only thing that might not be attractive to the Rangersin addition to his recent injuriesis having another lefty starter in the rotation.

Santana would be the rotation’s fourth lefty when he and Derek Holland likely return around the same time.

But, again, if the price is right, why not sign the guy? The potential rewards should far outweigh the risk. This should be an opportunity that general manager Jon Daniels pounces on. 


All stats courtesy of

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Report: 5 Teams Interested in Jason Hammel, Rangers Should Not Be One

According to this tweet by Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish, five major league teams are reportedly interested in free-agent starting pitcher Jason Hammel:

The Texas Rangers should not be one of those five. While Hammel might seem like a low-risk, high-reward arm to many teams, he would not be a fit in Arlington.

Over the last week, I’ve cycled through most of the available starters on the market and made cases as to why each one would fit with the Rangers rotation while Derek Holland recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery. Most of the ones I’ve discussed—Ervin Santana, Bronson Arroyo, Bruce Chen and possibly A.J. Burnett—have strong cases as potentially nice fits. 

Hammel, 31, is a guy who needs to be addressed specifically, as well—but for why he won’t fit or succeed in Arlington. But as always, I’ll start off with what he does well.

Hammel has been able to keep the ball in the yard pretty well over his career. Between 2009 and 2011 pitching with the Colorado Rockies, Hammel averaged 174 innings pitched while allowing an average of just 18.6 homers per season in that span.

It should be noted that pitching at Coors Field is no easy task, and Hammel was able to keep the ball down more often than not. Last year with the Baltimore Orioles, he surrendered 22 homers in just 139.1 innings. With a workload closer to his Colorado averages, Hammel would have ended up allowing around 30 homers in 2013. 

But 2013 does seem to be an outlier when you take a look at his lifetime numbers in the home run department.

Mechanically, he relies heavily on his sinking fastball, which induces a high number of ground balls. The Rangers figure to have one of baseball’s premier defenses this season, and that would certainly benefit Hammel.

He’d be able to trust his stuff a little more knowing the guys behind him can make plays and get him out of jams.

His control is just on par with the rest of the league. His career average for walks per nine innings is 3.1. That’s decent, but you’d like it to be a little lower in the American League.

Finally, Hammel is a large man at 6’6″ and 225 pounds. He can be an intimidating presence on the mound and has velocity in the low-to-mid 90s, accompanied by a big 12-to-6 curve ball and a sharp-breaking slider. 

But here is why the Rangers should turn away from him. 

First, his asking price. ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted this on December 9:

I haven’t seen any definitive updates on what Hammel is asking for now, but that doesn’t sound too good off the bat for the Rangers, or really for any club.

What is particularly scary is the difference and glaring inconsistency between his 2012 and 2013 seasons with Baltimore. Despite only making three more starts in 2013 than he did in 2012, Hammel‘s ERA jumped from 3.43 to 4.97, his strikeout rate per nine innings dropped from 8.6 to 6.2 and his strikeout-to-walk ratio plummeted from 2.69 to 2.00. 

Outside of his 2012 season with the Orioles, which was considered to be a breakout for him, Hammel has never finished a season with an ERA under 4.33. Much of his career workload was spent in the National League, even if it was in Colorado’s launching pad. 

Over his career, Hammel hasn’t fared well against lefties or righties. Lefties have hit .281 off him, while righties have batted .278. Those numbers aren’t due to improve much pitching at Rangers Ballpark. 

He also has a recent injury history that is an immediate cause for concern. Discomfort in his pitching arm as well as flexor strains in his lower back caused Hammel to miss significant time over the last two seasons with Baltimore. 

The Rangers can find better value in another starting pitcher on the market. Between Hammel‘s injuries over the last couple seasons, his reported asking price and lackluster career averages, Texas should stay away despite any feelings that he might be worth a gamble.

He’s definitely not worth a three-year gamble.

Unless Hammel can be signed to a one-year deal in the range of $6 million to $8 million with a possible team option for a second year, Texas should turn its attention to guys who will provide greater benefits to its rotation. 


All stats courtesy of

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Rangers’ Rotation Recovery: Jerome Williams as a Depth Option?

According to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish (h/t Adam J. Morris of Lone Star Ball), the Texas Rangers are reportedly making progress in contract talks with right-handed starter Jerome Williams.

Cotillo reported that Williams could sign with the Rangers in the next couple of days. Cotillo‘s source said that talks between the two parties intensified after projected No. 2 starter Derek Holland’s recent knee injury. The source also told Cotillo that the deal would likely be for one year.

Williams was non-tendered by the Los Angeles Angels this offseason.

Well, signing him isn’t the ideal solution to replacing Holland in the rotation. That would be Masahiro Tanaka, the Japanese ace who would not only shore up Texas’ rotation now but also strengthen it beyond this season.

It was already expected that the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees would be the biggest dogs in a potentially massive bidding war for Tanaka. The Yankees need a quality starting pitcher, while the Dodgers seem to have full control of the United States Treasury.

The Rangers’ task of outbidding even just the Yankees got tougher with the recent news of Alex Rodriguez‘s 162-game suspension. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that the Yankees will clear up nearly $25 million in 2014 payroll because of the length of Rodriguez’s time out. So the Rangers likely won’t get their ideal fit to replace Holland.

It sure is hard to imagine that Yu Darvish‘s influence—although it likely holds some weight—is strong enough to equal the Yankees’ newly found mountain of cash.

If Texas signs Williams instead, he would likely be the favorite for the No. 5 spot in the rotation. Admittedly, he is an average pitcher at best. But let’s take a look at what he could bring to the rotation.

Keep in mind that this potential signing is all about value. The question to ask is whether or not he can be effective for the price. Morris of Lone Star Ball believes that Williams would get between $1 and $2 million for that one-year deal.

First, Williams keeps the ball down, which is especially critical when pitching in Arlington. His last season with the Angels appeared to be an outlier, as he allowed 23 homers in 25 starts in 2013. But over his career as a starter, he has allowed just 79 homers in 2,952 plate appearances. That’s a home run rate of just 2.6 percent, which is pretty good.

I don’t think he can keep up that pace in Arlington. But remember, he wouldn’t have to shut down the opposing lineup but rather keep his own in the game.

The Honolulu native has an effective inside-out, sinker-cutter combination. He complements those two pitches with a respectable slider and changeup. His sinker sits around 92 mph, while his cutter usually reaches 87-89 mph.

So he has nice velocity and the stuff to hit the corners on both sides of the plate. Controlling both sides allows him to jam both righty and lefty batters, as well as make both sides chase. As a starter, he has a career .262 opponents’ batting average, which is probably passable.

Against righties over his career, he has pretty decent numbers. Righties have only hit .259 on him. Also, Williams has a serviceable strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.66 to the right side of the plate.

When you take a look at all of his numbers from the left side of the plate, he’s about the same pitcher. He’ll be better and worse in some categories, but lefties have only hit .265 against him.

He also brings a veteran mentality to the rotation. Granted, his overall record is just 42-47 with a 4.35 ERA, but he has much more experience as a starter than Nick Tepesch or Alexi Ogando and slightly more than even Colby Lewis.

Again, he isn’t a guy who is going to shut down the other team every time out. He does have the ability to be effective in any given start because of his sinker-cutter combo. Nothing he throws is straight, and that makes him just harder to hit.

For the record, I am not pronouncing Williams as the be-all and end-all solution to replacing Holland. He is not nearly a good enough pitcher to do that alone. The only two guys who could replace Holland by themselves are Tanaka and David Price.

If the Rangers don’t sign Tanaka, this three-month recovery process will be a committee effort behind the pillars of Yu Darvish, Martin Perez and hopefully Matt Harrison, whose smooth transition back to the rotation is needed now more than ever.

But, if Williams can be had for between $1 and $2 million, why not? His signing just might keep Ogando in the bullpen where he belongs.

Don’t make this any more than it is. At the end of the day, Williams is a depth option; at best, he will get around 20 starts. With the Rangers’ reloaded offense, that shouldn’t be the concern it would normally be when you consider his level as a pitcher.


What do you think of Williams? Sound off in the comments section below.

Note: All stats courtesy of

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Derek Holland Down: Texas Rangers Must Now Go All-In on Masahiro Tanaka

According to this tweet by Anthony Andro of Fox Sports Southwest, the Texas Rangers‘ rotation took a huge blow Friday:

The Rangers must now work quickly to find a viable replacement in the No. 2 spot that Holland was expected to man. Without Derek Holland, this rotation is not World Series-caliber, and his extended absence likely knocks Texas down a level in the American League’s current pecking order of contenders.

That is, unless the Rangers go all-in and sign Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka. Here are a couple of reasons the Rangers should now press harder than ever to sign Tanaka.

One: He is the only pitcher available in free agency who could adequately replace Holland until midseason, when he is expected to return to the rotation. Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana will be cheaper, but they both have been highly inconsistent over their careers.

Also, since Tanaka has never pitched in the majors he would have an instant advantage of unfamiliarity over hitters who have never faced him. He has an impressive repertoire, and although it isn’t as deadly as that of Yu Darvish, he will have the element of surprise on his side for at least the first part of this season.

He and Darvish would form a killer one-two punch at the top of the rotation, followed by Martin Perez, Matt Harrison and a No. 5 starter, which still seems up in the air.

Two: Tanaka made sense for Texas to begin with, even before Holland’s freak injury. He is 25 years old, which is generally a comfortable age to hand a guy a massive deal. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, Tanaka could easily earn a deal in the $125 million range.

Before Holland’s injury, the Rangers probably would not have been in serious bidding for Tanaka. But their situation has become desperate. They must at least replace Holland’s production, and I don’t see any other free-agent option who could do that.

The Rangers will have the money needed to sign Tanaka. The team is entering into a 20-year television deal with Fox Sports Southwest that will pay it $3 billion over the life of the contract, which is worth $80 million per season. Per season.

This new deal should give the Rangers plenty more confidence in handing Tanaka an albatross contract. He would be here long term, and he would strengthen the rotation even more when Holland does return.

I’m on record here at B/R saying that Texas should pass on Tanaka. But the current situation couldn’t have taken a more dramatic turn. General manager Jon Daniels needs to take even more dramatic action now.

Signing Tanaka will repair the Rangers’ rotation for now until Holland returns. When Holland takes the mound again, the Rangers’ rotation would be the best in baseball.

This is about a short-term fix as well as long-term sustainability. Daniels needs to make this happen.

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Texas Rangers 2014 Rotation: Projections and Thoughts

On Wednesday, I projected how the Texas Rangers‘ revamped offense would look in 2014. Today is the second installment in the projection series: the rotation. Bullpen projections, the final piece of the series, will be coming soon.

As it stands now, Texas’ rotation has four set starters. The Rangers’ need for another quality starter is well-documented, and it is unknown what avenue the team will take to fill that need.

These projections will include the year I expect each of the four established starters to have. For purposes of simplicity, I will assume for now that the No. 5 spot in the rotation will be filled by committee, until and if the Rangers acquire another full-time starter. Therefore, I will project how that committee will perform as a whole.


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Rangers’ Future Question: Should the Team Ever Trade Elvis Andrus?

There are some Texas Ranger fans who believe that it could be in the team’s best interest to eventually trade shortstop Elvis Andrus.

Parting with Andrus, who was a core member of the 2010 and 2011 Rangers teams that made consecutive World Series appearances, would be an extremely difficult call to make.

But there are pretty fair arguments on both sides of the coin here.

Before I take a look at this, one critical point needs to be established: Andrus will not be traded this season or even next season.

This is a deal—if it were to happen—that wouldn’t happen for at least another couple of years. It may never happen. There certainly haven’t been any rumblings that Jon Daniels and the front office are considering it.

So with that said, let’s take a look at this question.


If the Rangers Eventually Trade Andrus

It would mean that Jurickson Profar would slide over to his home position at shortstop, where he would likely be more effective and comfortable.

Secondly, cutting ties with Andrus means that Roughned Odor would take over at second base, which is his natural position.

Obviously, this deal wouldn’t happen anytime soon because Odor is not major-league ready.

He is still probably a couple of years away from being able to play second base every day for the Rangers. The only way Daniels makes this move is if he has absolute confidence in Odor to be a major contributor for the club. 

Odor is a special prospect.

He is a complete player, whom I think has better potential hitting ability than Profar. Odor has shown an ability to maintain his impressive numbers even after transitioning minor league levels.

In 2013 with High A Myrtle Beach, Odor hit .305 with five homers and 59 RBI. He makes hard, square contact as his 17.7 percent strikeout rate is very solid for a 19-year old.

Odor was promoted to AA Frisco late in the year.

In 134 at-bats with the Rough Riders, he still hit .305 with six big flies and 19 RBI. His strikeout rate and walk rate remained almost identical, even at the next level. That is the sign of a special player. 

So it is believed that Odor will be ready for the Rangers in a couple of years. I have every confidence in his ability and hype. 

The single greatest advantage to dealing Andrus is salary relief.

After 2014, he will enter into his eight-year, $120 million contract extension that he signed right before the the start of last season. Many Ranger fans—myself included—were relieved that he wasn’t going to hit free agency, especially since the ever-daunting Scott Boras is his agent.

But many of these fans seriously questioned if Andrus was worth $15 million a year.

I always believed that the front office had to overwhelm Andrus early, in order to convince him to stay with Texas long-term. Andrus has shown noticeable improvement, but I still don’t think he is worth that money. 

It’s a contract that takes up a big space in the Rangers’ payroll.

That $15 million could be used to sign future free agent talent in the next few years.

Premier defensive shortstops with a developing bat and power don’t come cheap, however. The question that the Rangers need to ask is this: Can a middle infield of Profar and Odor in two to three years be more effective than a combination of Andrus-Profar now or next year?

One thing is for sure: Profar and Odor is a far, far cheaper duo.

What is Andrus’ ceiling? Realistically, how much more can he improve? At best, I see Andrus as a .280 to .285 hitter with 10 and 75 potential, who will play A-plus defense. Can Odor eventually produce more than that? Again, this is a question that will take much more time to answer.

Andrus has a 2018 opt-out clause in his contract. By then, he still won’t even be 30. He will be very attractive to several teams. He is a talented player with an impressive pedigree.

For now, though, Andrus and Profar are clearly set. But what if Odor has an all-star year in AA, gets promoted to AAA late in the year or early next season and continues his wild success? Daniels would have to seriously consider dealing Andrus in the future. 


If the Rangers Don’t Eventually Trade Andrus

They’d be keeping an all-star caliber shortstop, but would also likely be blocking Odor from breaking in with the Rangers unless Profar was traded in the next couple of years.

It’s perfectly reasonable to assume that unless either Andrus or Profar are moved, Odor may never see regular major-league time and could be traded.

Is Odor too talented for that? I think so.

Ultimately, if Texas doesn’t trade Andrus, it will be because they view him as the future face of the franchise.

At just 25, he has experience on the highest stage, starting in two World Series.  He is still a developing player at the plate and hasn’t reached his prime as a hitter. 

He’s taking noticeable strides with his bat.

Last season he started out slow average-wise, but it wasn’t because he was struggling to hit. He was roping the ball and making hard contact, but had terrible luck as balls generally went right to fielders. In the second half, he was making the same quality contact, but the balls started falling in and thus his average leaped quickly.

I expect more improvement from Andrus this season, particularly with his OBP. He should also steadily improve his power over the next couple of seasons, until he gets closer to his 10-homer plateau. If he does that, it might be even tougher for Daniels to deal him.

So long-term, this decision ultimately comes down to who has higher potential as a shortstop, Profar or Andrus? Odor will be a better second baseman than Profar because Odor is a natural second baseman. But can Profar be a better overall shortstop, both at the plate and defensively, than Andrus?

Short-term, this could be one of the things holding Daniels back from a David Price trade or a trade for any A-list pitcher.

That deal would most certainly require Profar, Martin Perez or both. If Daniels trades Profar for a big pitcher, Andrus won’t be going anywhere until at least 2018.

If the club were to deal Perez and others for Price, Andrus could be on the block for perhaps another quality pitcher to replace Perez a couple years later, while Profar and Odor form the middle infield. 

Boy, this is a crazy decision to make.

I’m not even sure I can decide here. I do believe the best way to begin making a decision on this is to closely monitor Odor’s progress throughout AA this year and in AAA in 2015. If Daniels and the front office are impressed enough, I could probably live with an Andrus trade. 

But it’s nearly an impossible call to make this offseason or at anytime during the 2014 season.

Decisions, decisions, decisions—both in the short- and long-term.

In the past and even early this offseason, many Ranger fans were irritated with Daniels’ tendency for patience with acquisitions. But the question of what to do with Andrus is one that clearly requires a lot of it. This would be a ground-shaking move for the franchise that must be thoroughly thought out.

Patience is what makes Daniels one of the best—possibly the best—GM in baseball. It’s part of what will keep this franchise in contention for the next several years.

What do you think? Do you think the Rangers should eventually trade Andrus?


*All stats and contract info courtesy of and Texas Ranger prospect watch.



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How Well Would Homer Bailey Fit in the Rangers’ Rotation?

As I said in my previous piece, it’s seeming more and more as though the place for the Texas Rangers to find the final quality starter they need is the trade market rather than free agency. 

The Cincinnati Reds‘ Homer Bailey might be another realistic trade option for the Rangers.

According to this October 14 article by Robb Hoff of Yahoo! Sports, a Rangers-Reds trade for Bailey might be “best for both teams.”

Much has changed on the Rangers’ side of things since October 14. At the time Hoff wrote this piece, he suggested that the Rangers could acquire Bailey in exchange for second baseman Jurickson Profar and center fielder Leonys Martin. This was, of course, well before Texas traded incumbent leadoff man Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers and hauled in feared slugger Prince Fielder. 

Now that the Rangers have opened up a full-time spot for Profar after Kinsler’s departure, I don’t see him in a potential deal for Bailey at all. Quite frankly, I don’t see Martin in it either.

But the Rangers’ need for another starter is still front and center, even after adding Fielder and leadoff man extraordinaire Shin-Soo Choo.

Let’s take a look at what acquiring Bailey could mean for the Rangers’ rotation, as well as what it might take to land him from the Reds.

Bailey, 27, will be a free agent after the 2014 season. He’s pitched in Cincinnati for the entirety of his seven-year career. He had a solid 2012 season and an excellent 2013 season with the Reds, a year in which he threw two no-hitters. This season, he’ll make just north of $9 million in his final year of team control, according to Hoff.

Last season, he went 11-12 with a 3.49 ERA in 209 innings. Ignore the wins and losses. In my mind, that is nearly a meaningless stat for a pitcher. It’s largely a measure of how good an offense is. Earned run average and opponents’ batting average are the two most revealing stats for how effective an individual pitcher is. In addition to his 3.49 ERA, right-handed hitters only hit .205 off Bailey in 2013, while lefties hit .264. 

He allowed 181 hits in those innings, while striking out 199 and walking just 54. Bailey’s top two attributes are his durability and control, while featuring above-average velocity. He’s made 65 starts in the last two seasons, and has only walked 106 in 417 innings. That is elite control. 

Bailey also has an impressive 3.46 strikeout to walk ratio over the last two seasons. That will translate perfectly to the AL.

The one noticeable flaw with Bailey is his susceptibility to giving up home runs. But, pitching in Great American Ballpark, one of the NL’s premier launching pads, he’s only allowed 46 long balls in those 417 innings over the last two seasons. That’s actually a solid rate. 

Bailey has a four seam fastball and a wicked two seam fastball in the 94 to 97 mph range, accompanied by a slider with sharp tilt and sweeping break. He’s also got a big curveball and a sneaky splitter. Both his stuff and velocity are above average. He’s one of those guys that is just tough to hit, and could give the opposing lineup fits any given night.

How does he fit in the Rangers’ rotation?

He could immediately step into the No. 4 spot behind Matt Harrison to help break up the order of lefties. Martin Perez is an ideal No. 5 starter right now, considering his age. He would be more comfortable as the No. 5 starter. 

Bailey is a horse, who eats innings and doesn’t get hurt. I believe he has the stuff and velocity to succeed in the AL after spending his entire career in the NL. He wouldn’t be another Ryan Dempster cross-league failure. Dempster hit 89 mph on his fastball. Bailey routinely hits 95 to 96 with sharp movement. Plus velocity counts for a lot

Two more things about Bailey. One, he’s a native of LaGrange, Texas. I’m willing to bet that he definitely has interest in pitching in his home state. Hoff even reports that Bailey never seemed too excited to pitch in Cincinnati and that he and the Reds didn’t seem too eager or optimistic about signing him to an extension. 

Secondly, Bailey is a guy that could likely be locked up long term for a reasonable price—somewhere in the Matt Harrison range of six years, $57 million. That should be a ceiling value for Bailey though. I can see him commanding around or right at $10 million per year, if he were to pitch well for the Rangers this season. 

But what would Bailey cost the Rangers?

As Hoff reported, Cincinnati and Bailey likely weren’t on the best terms. He believes that the Reds would have no problem shipping off Bailey, as Tony Cingrani and Aroldis Chapman could be ready to join Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos and Mike Leake in their rotation. 

But it would obviously be in the Reds’ best interest to trade Bailey now and get something in return, rather than just play him out till 2015 when he’s a free agent and could decline Cincinnati’s qualifying offer.

Hoff suggested, before the Rangers carried out their offseason business, that Texas give up Profar and Martin.

“No way,” is what Texas GM Jon Daniels should be saying to that proposal. Bailey is talented, but that is too much to let go for a guy who has only had two solid years as a full-time, 32-start starter. 

The thing to keep in mind here, is that Bailey won’t require a huge package. Therefore, Daniels has even more depth and lateral room to put together a smaller package that appeals to Cincinnati. The smaller the deal needs to be, the more options Daniels has.

How about this deal:

Texas trades Luke Jackson and Luis Sardinas, while taking on Bailey’s full 2014 salary, and gets Bailey.

That’s just one possibility, but it’s a fair deal in my mind. Remember, Texas would only be getting Bailey for one season, so he shouldn’t be able to command too much from the Rangers. This is a move that shouldn’t cost the Rangers any current starter in the rotation. 

The Reds get two high-end prospects as well as salary relief in return. Jackson could be in their bullpen by the end of next season or the start of 2015. Sardinas provides infield depth. The added bonus for them, is that Bailey’s departure potentially leaves a door open for Chapman in the rotation. 

Texas gets a good pitcher for 2014 to add to an already great rotation. Daniels can easily slap a qualifying offer on Bailey after the season, and at least get a first round draft pick if he signs elsewhere. But I really believe Bailey will have interest in an extension with the Rangers, especially if they win the World Series in 2014.

He is a Texas boy after all. 

With Bailey in the mix, here is what the Rangers’ rotation would look like next season.

Yu Darvish

Derek Holland

Matt Harrison

Homer Bailey

Martin Perez

I would love to have Bailey in Texas’ rotation. That’s a nice balance of righties and lefties, with heat all around. It’s also a group that is very controlled, yet aggressive. Each of these guys tend to attack hitters without fear, and all of them have quality stuff.

This rotation would slide in just behind Detroit’s as the second-best in the AL. 

If you’re still a bit skeptical, check out those above highlights from Bailey’s July 2 no-hitter against the San Francisco Giants

I think this would be a very realistic possibility for a deal. Daniels, like he should with all other options, should take a good look at this. 

What do you think of this possible deal? Would you want Bailey in the Rangers’ rotation?


*All stats and contract info courtesy of 






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