With free agency officially beginning at 12:01 a.m. Thursday morning, the Texas Rangers officially begin talks with free agent candidates and continue their conversations to re-sign pitcher C.J. Wilson.
Speculation has the left-hander looking for a five-year deal worth in the neighborhood of $75 million, a line the Rangers aren’t exactly ready to cross. However, Wilson said in an interview this past weekend that there was a “great chance” of him returning to the Texas Rangers starting rotation.
While that might be good news for some, there are others who are ready and willing to move on to see if there is another starter who can be better than Wilson and not have quite the arrogance the California native brings with him.
The first candidate, and a name that continues to make the rounds around Dallas/Fort Worth, is former Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Roy Oswalt. He would make sense seeing as he’s a Texas guy and undoubtedly would consider returning to his home state to play for a team that has made it to back-to-back World Series.
His time in Houston didn’t end in a World Series championship, nor did his time in Philadelphia.
But it would seem to most that the Texas Rangers are built for a third-straight run to The Fall Classic and it may not take much convincing by general manager Jon Daniels and CEO Nolan Ryan to get Oswalt to buy in. The only concern is whether or not Oswalt is completely healthy after dealing with a lower-back injury that put him on the disabled list more than once during the 2011 season.
If he can prove he is ready to go and can pitch more than 150 innings in 2012, he’s an investment the Rangers may very well be willing to make. The other concern could be what he would ask for in free agency.
Former Boston Red Sox, turned MLB Network analyst, Kevin Millar predicted Oswalt would sign with the Rangers for two years and $11 million per season. Whether or not the Rangers would be willing to give Oswalt that kind of deal is still yet to be seen. If he is completely healthy, they could be getting a legitimate ace with postseason experience.
Another name that has Rangers fans buzzing is 25-year-old Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish. If you haven’t had a chance to look him up online and get your first glimpse of what the Rangers could have a chance at landing, consider this your opportunity.
He is being called “the best Japanese prospect since Hideo Nomo.” Though the argument could be made that it seems every Japanese pitcher is the “best prospect since this other well known Japanese pitcher,” you could understand the concerns from some fans that he could very well be another Dice K. Definitely a legitimate concern if you ask me.
The Texas Rangers would need to submit a blind bid just to negotiate a contract with him. Meaning the team would need to probably throw out in the neighborhood of $40 million (rough estimate) just to have the rights to sit down and talk to him about signing with them. The good news is, if they can’t get a deal worked out before the 30-day negotiating window comes to a close, that blind bid isn’t completely lost.
Daniels made it very clear that pitching was going to be the top priority. If one wanted to venture a guess, it would probably be an educated guess to say the Rangers would probably focus on adding a pitcher, either re-signing C.J. Wilson or signing another free agent, before they moved on to another position.
CBS Sports had seven of their beat writers make predictions on 10 free agent players, one of which was C.J. Wilson, and where they would sign this offseason. Not one of those writers predicted Wilson would return to the Texas Rangers.
There are several needs the Rangers need to fill and several questions they still have yet to answer. Pitching will be the team’s top priority, and whether they bring back Wilson or sign Roy Oswalt, you can bet on Daniels and Ryan making sure they solidify their rotation before anything else is addressed.