With just over a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting to their respective spring training homes, Major League Baseball’s hot stove is still very much alive and kicking, and the Texas Rangers are right in the middle of it.
Their acquisition of Yu Darvish, or at least winning the bid, made their fans and other teams realize just how intent they are about making a serious run for a third straight World Series appearance. Only this time, they want the hardware.
But Darvish may not be the only player landing in Texas before players and front office personnel depart for Arizona in mid-February.
There are a few names still being talked about and a few players who they continue to have interest in. What Rangers fans have learned about general manager Jon Daniels and CEO Nolan Ryan is the quieter they are the more chances a big move could be on the horizon.
Matt Garza talks heating up
The Texas Rangers have had prior interest in Chicago Cubs right-hander Matt Garza, and with the possibility of him being traded, Daniels and Ryan could be looking to put together a deal to bring the young pitcher to Arlington.
As it is right now, the Rangers are counting on three pitchers in their rotation with little to no starting experience in the big leagues. Assuming Darvish and Texas can come to an agreement, he will pitch his very first season in Major League Baseball. Neftali Feliz, the team’s former closer, will begin his first season as a starter. The last time he could say that was when he played in Texas’ minor-league system. Last, but not least, Alexi Ogando will begin his second season in the starting rotation after burning out in the second half of the 2011 season.
With all that in mind, the Rangers could look for a proven starter to give them an insurance policy. While they do have right-hander Scott Feldman and left-hander Matt Harrison to spot start here and there, the Rangers may not be convinced their rotation is as solidified as they would like it to be.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Cubs are looking for young pitching in return. A name like Martin Perez, a pitcher in the Rangers’ minor-league system, could very well be in play in a deal like this.
But, while most will talk about minor-league players, the Cubs may not look any farther than Matt Harrison to be one of the players in the deal. Having already dealt another left-hander, Sean Marshall, from the big league club, could Chicago be looking for a left-hander to replace him?
Prince Fielder won’t be coming to Texas
Fans in Texas want him. And who can blame them?
There’s no question the Texas Rangers would love to bring in a big bat like free agent first baseman Prince Fielder. There’s no question adding him to their lineup automatically makes them the odds on favorite not only in the AL West but also to repeat as the American League Champions.
But the Rangers, and their front office, are only willing to go so far to land a player like him. Ryan has made it clear their organization is not comfortable giving any player a contract offer of six years or more. Something that was made clear during the Rangers’ negotiations with Cliff Lee a few years ago. Lee wanted a sixth year on the deal, and Texas refused to go to that point to sign him.
Not only that, Ryan and Daniels both have made it clear they are very much committed to Mitch Moreland as their first baseman going into the 2012 season.
If Moreland fails, you better believe the Rangers will get the biggest “I told you so” from fans who have kicked and screamed all offseason for them to sign Fielder.
Will Yu or won’t Yu?
The Texas Rangers’ front office has kept their attention on their prize winning bid in Darvish since the announcement was made almost two weeks ago.
While most believe Darvish will sign a contract with the Rangers, it’s not a foregone conclusion until the announcement is made. There are a lot of unknowns about how the young 25-year-old will perform in the big leagues or even if his pitches will work as well as they did in Japan.
All eyes will be on him when spring training opens, and even more eyes will be on him when he steps on the rubber for his very first start of the regular season.