Texas Rangers still tinkering, but changes might not be necessary
The Texas Rangers offseason has been disappointing to many so far because the club has been unable to sign or trade for the impact players they were rumored to be interested in.
Fans and pundits believed the Rangers needed to add another slugger to the already potent lineup, which would have included Josh Hamilton had he re-signed in Texas. When Hamilton decided to bolt for Los Angeles and sign with the Angels earlier this month, the departure left a gaping hole in the middle of the order and left many believing the team needed to add two power bats.
The Rangers are believed to be rigorously pursuing Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton, but the D-Backs are believed to be asking for either shortstop Elvis Andrus or mega-prospect Jurickson Profar, and the Rangers are not interested in trading either.
Texas had dinner with outfielder Cody Ross two weeks ago, but Ross eventually signed with Arizona, which has led to more rumors of the D-backs trading Upton. However, if Texas refuses to budge and not trade Andrus or Profar, Upton will not be traded to Texas.
Former New York Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher signed a four-year $56 million dollar deal with the Cleveland Indians last week, but Texas was believed to have little interest in the former Yankee.
Free-agent center fielder Michael Bourn is still on the market, but Bourn and his agent Scott Boras are believed to be seeking a contract close to $100 million dollars. Bourn just turned 30 years old, and for a player who relies so much on speed to be effective, players do not exactly become quicker as they age. Plus, the Rangers have the ability to platoon two younger players in center field who are both younger than Bourn, Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry.
There have also been rumors of the Miami Marlins potentially trading phenomenal young superstar Giancarlo Stanton, but the odds of the Marlins trading Stanton are very slim.
The Rangers did sign former Chicago White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski to provide punch from the left side of the plate. Pierzynski’s 27 HRs, .501 slugging percentage, and wRC+ of 118 in 2012 were all career highs by a substantial margin. The club would be satisfied if Pierzynski generated offensive numbers in 2013 close to what he did in ’12. After signing Pierzynski, many still felt the Rangers needed to sign another bat, but is adding another bat really necessary?
Most fans are tepid when speaking about outfielder David Murphy, but The Bashing Baptist might be better than what is currently available on the market. Murphy is not the most flashy or spectacular player, but in his first season as a full-time left fielder in 2012, Murphy was statistically above-average at the plate. Murphy’s .380 on-base percentage ranked fifth among all qualified major league outfielders, and his 127 wRC+ was 14th among qualified outfielders. Murphy’s .859 OPS in ’12 was also 11th highest among qualified outfielders at the plate.
Hamilton’s 4.4 fWAR last season was only 0.4 higher than Murphy’s 4.0. However, Hamilton is now earning over $20 million dollars per year more than Murphy after he signed the exorbitant deal with the Angels.
Acquiring Carlos Gonzalez or Josh Willingham would send Ranger fans into quite a frenzy, but Murphy’s 9.4 UZR in left field last year was higher than both of those outfielders. As a matter of fact, Gonzalez and Willingham had the worst UZR’s among qualified left fielders in Major League Baseball last season.
The Rangers inactivity during the winter has been exasperating at times, and I still feel signing Swisher at the affordable rate the Indians did was a bargain, but Murphy and what the Rangers currently have might be better options over what is available on the market. After adding Pierzynski, putting potential superstar Profar in the lineup, and with Martin and Gentry platooning in center field, adding another bat to the lineup might now be redundant.
Follow Dustin Dietz on Twitter @DustinDietz18