Five Key Holes the Rangers Need to Fill This Winter, and How They Should Fill Them
1. Who will fill the opening in the starting rotation?
Free agents: Ryan Dempster, Zack Greinke, Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson, Hiroki Kuroda, Kyle Lohse, Shaun Marcum, Brandon McCarthy, Anibal Sanchez
Trade targets: R.A. Dickey, Felix Hernandez, Josh Johnson, Cliff Lee, David Price, James Shields
With Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando and Derek Holland guaranteed rotation spots in 2013, that leaves room for someone else, preferably a top-of-the-rotation starter. Jake Peavy re-upped with the White Sox, so Greinke and Kuroda are the only free agents fitting that description, and I don't see either coming to Texas. Kuroda is likely to return to the Yankees or Dodgers and Greinke's price tag will be too high, leaving the trade market as the best route to obtain a frontline starter.
The Rays might be willing to part with 27-year-old lefty David Price, even though he's an AL Cy Young Award candidate and under control for three more years, because of their abundance of great arms and need for offensive help and salary relief. Jurickson Profar would be able to step in and play shortstop for them and Mike Olt could play first base, representing significant offensive and defensive upgrades both short and long term at low salaries. If the Rangers tossed in Martin Perez and maybe someone else, and it would be hard for Tampa Bay to pass up such an offer.
It's hard to part with some of the best young players in the organization, but it's a necessary cost if Texas wants someone of Price's caliber, which is why I proposed a similar deal for Felix Hernandez at this year's trade deadline. And I'd still do that deal in a heartbeat, assuming King Felix could be had.
I've also advocated in the past to trade for James Shields, who makes $9 million next year and has a $12 million option for 2014. For whatever reason, he doesn't seem to get fans as excited as they are about Greinke, but the stats suggest there's very little difference between the two.
Greinke (1,492 career innings): 91-78 record, 3.77 ERA, 8.0 K/9, 1.25 WHIP Shields (1,452.2 career innings): 87-73 record, 3.89 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 1.22 WHIP
Greinke (2012): 15-5 record, 3.48 ERA, 8.5 K/9, 1.20 WHIP
Shields (2012): 15-10 record, 3.52 ERA, 8.8 K/9, 1.17 WHIP
It would also make sense for Texas to try a deal for probable NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, who makes just $5 million in 2013 but could be available because the Mets have been unsuccessful in their attempts to sign him to a long-term contract.
If the Rangers can't swing a deal for an ace, I'd rather they give Robbie Ross a shot in the rotation than sign a mid-level starter for too much dough. If he doesn't show promise as a starter after a few months in the rotation, Colby Lewis -- who was re-signed in mid-September to a one-year, $2 million contract with incentives -- could be an option to replace him if he returns around the All-Star break as expected.
Next: Oh, Josh.