Five Key Holes the Rangers Need to Fill This Winter, and How They Should Fill Them
Just a few days after the 2012 MLB season kicked off in Japan, one of the elite players scheduled to become a free agent in the coming offseason took himself off the market. The Giants enticed Matt Cain to stay in San Francisco, signing him to a six-year, $127.5 million contract extension -- the most money awarded to a right-handed pitcher in history.
Another premier soon-to-be free agent followed in late July, when Cole Hamels signed a six-year, $144 million deal in Philadelphia. Only Yankees southpaw CC Sabathia had signed a larger contract (seven years, $161 million) among pitchers in history, and only Sabathia earns a higher average annual salary ($24.4 million) than Hamels ($24 million) among active pitchers.
Despite both ace hurlers landing historic contracts, they actually left millions of dollars on the table. At a time when television contracts are exploding in value, stadium revenues are up and several teams seemingly have money burning holes in their pockets, it's reasonable to suggest Cain and Hamels could have done even better had they shopped themselves to 30 teams instead of one.
Which brings us to Zack Greinke.
No matter what happened with Cain and Hamels, Greinke was set to be among the most-coveted free agents this offseason. But now that they're unavailable, Greinke has risen to the No. 1 spot on the list. And there's no shortage of suitors, led by both Los Angeles teams and Your Texas Rangers.
Greinke has been available two other times, first in December 2010, when he was dealt to Milwaukee, and this year in July, when he was traded to the Angels. The Rangers reportedly had strong interest both times, but they ultimately balked at surrendering the prospects necessary to acquire the former Cy Young Award winner.
This time, the Rangers would have to dip into their pockets instead of the farm system, but the result is likely to be the same: Greinke will end up elsewhere. I'd be surprised if Greinke signs for anything less than seven years and $175 million, a price I expect the Angels to meet.
As much as the Rangers could use Greinke in their rotation, I just don't see them outbidding the Angels, or the Dodgers for that matter. So while Greinke's name will continue to be linked to Texas countless times in the next month heading into the December 3 Winter Meetings in Nashville, the odds of him landing in Arlington are slim at best, especially since Texas has other needs.
So: Let's take a look at the Rangers' top five offseason questions now that free agency is officially underway and how general manager Jon Daniels might answer them.
Next: Filling out the rotation.