Still not feeling all that well, so I’m going to try and hit on a bunch of things very briefly, and probably just superficially.
The addition of Yu Darvish meant that Texas, already well heeled in rotation depth with Scott Feldman around, would be moving Alexi Ogando, who made the All-Star Team as a first-time starter in 2011, back to the bullpen. Acceptable.
Now there are rumors spreading wildly that Roy Oswalt may be down to choosing between a one-year, $5 million offer from the Cardinals (with some suggesting he might be asked to relieve), according to St. Louis Post-Dispatch beat writer Joe Strauss, and a $7 or $8 million offer (with added incentives) from Texas. MLB.com’s Peter Gammons spoke to three GM’s about Oswalt; two believe he will sign with the Rangers, the other with the Cardinals.
Assuming Oswalt would be asked to start here – and for that level of money you’d have to believe that would be the plan – then Matt Harrison ends up in the bullpen as well, which would certainly improve the relief corps but reduce Harrison’s value, and arguably might not even improve the rotation, particularly given Oswalt’s health question.
As we discussed on December 22 (“Yu Darvish and the potential chain reaction“), there could always be a step-two plan to trade Harrison – considering what Mat Latos and Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill and even Tyler Chatwood brought in trade this winter – with a one-year commitment to a veteran like Oswalt designed to hold a rotation spot down until someone like Michael Kirkman or Neil Ramirez or Martin Perez is ready a year from now.
Last night’s Oswalt speculation came a year to the day after Texas traded Frankie Francisco for Mike Napoli, a deal that nobody could have expected would have the impact it did. Some thought the move was made to give Texas a replacement for Michael Young, who was rumored to be on Colorado’s radar. Otherwise, it wasn’t fully clear where Napoli would get all his at-bats.
That’s not what the Rangers had planned, though, and whether Texas is in on Oswalt (if that’s true at all) because they want Harrison to give them a more valuable left-handed relief weapon than they think they can find on the open market, or because they have a deal lined up to take advantage of the very healthy trade market for controllable starters, or because they aren’t counting on having another absurdly healthy year from the rotation and want more quality depth there, we know this much:
Whatever the immediate plan is, the Rangers have mapped things out several steps ahead of it.
And for what it’s worth, I’m not buying that the Strauss report is anything more than his own speculation, at least as far as the Texas offer is concerned. Hard to believe that Oswalt, given his apparent interest in Texas (and lengthy relationship with Nolan Ryan and Mike Maddux) and his back issues, wouldn’t have already grabbed it.
Jon Heyman (CBS Sports) says Oswalt has already rejected Detroit’s overtures, hasn’t responded to Boston’s offer, and may be considering Cincinnati as well – though the Reds’ non-roster deal with Jeff Francis would seem to shut that door. He adds that for Oswalt to sign with Texas, he’d have to do it “at their price” since “he’s not really a fit.” (Does $7 or $8 million plus incentives sound like a club-friendly deal?)
Ken Rosenthal (Fox Sports) includes Washington, Cleveland, and Milwaukee as interested parties.
Incidentally, recall that the Phillies declined to offer arbitration to Oswalt, a Type A free agent, and accordingly he won’t cost a draft pick to sign. In fact, no Type A’s remain on the market now that Prince Fielder has signed.
Ben Rogers (ESPN 103.3 FM) hears that the Rangers and Dodgers were the two clubs that Scott Boras gave final shots to on Fielder once Detroit put nine years on the table.
Koji Uehara’s veto of an apparent deal to Toronto (one of six teams on the no-trade clause he negotiated with Baltimore) is disappointing. The Jays have one of the game’s best farm systems and thus, theoretically, they’d be more willing to part with Prospect X than if that same player were in the Orioles system, for instance. (One Japanese outlet suggested the Jays return for Uehara would have been an unidentified minor league position player.)
Also, a little trade leverage is lost when one less interested club is involved – though according to T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com), Uehara continues to draw “considerable interest from other teams.”
Toronto signed Francisco Cordero only after the Uehara deal, whatever it was, fell through.
Sullivan adds that teams are asking about Feldman but Texas would probably have to pick up part of the $7.1 million he’s due in 2012 (which counts the $600,000 buyout to void a $9.25 million option for 2013) in order to deal him. Seems like that wouldn’t make much sense for the Rangers unless the salary relief or the return were significant. He fills an important role here.
Karl Ravech (ESPN), who says Oswalt will choose Texas or St. Louis, has the Rangers along with the Red Sox as the finalists for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, an interesting suggestion in that the Rangers have been linked to Cuban teenagers Jorge Soler (an outfielder) and Gerardo Concepcion (a lefthander) but not as far as I can recall to the 26-year-old Cespedes. (Again, though, the Rangers almost never betray their intentions on these things.)
Rosenthal and others have the Cubs and Marlins at the top of the list for Cespedes, who was officially declared a free agent yesterday (though he still needs a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control before he can negotiate with clubs), while Danny Knobler (CBS Sports) hears that the outfielder doesn’t want to play for Miami (which MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro hears is untrue). Jim Bowden (ESPN/XM) ranks the Orioles and White Sox behind the Cubs and Marlins as his most likely destinations.
According to Jesse Sanchez (MLB.com), Concepcion’s top suitors appear to be the Rangers, Yankees, Cubs, and White Sox, while the Marlins, Phillies, Giants, Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Royals have shown interest as well. Baseball Prospectus’s Kevin Goldstein projects him as a back-of-the-rotation type.
MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects list, published last night, includes Jurickson Profar (7), Perez (29), Mike Olt (43), and Leonys Martin (89).
Baseball America’s top 10 Rangers prospects: Darvish, Profar, Perez, Olt, Martin, Ramirez, righthander Cody Buckel, catcher Jorge Alfaro, third baseman Christian Villanueva (who saw some instructional league time at second base), and second baseman Rougned Odor. Righthander Matt West would have been 10th had Darvish not signed.
BA’s Best Tools:
Best Hitter for Average Profar
Best Power Hitter Olt
Best Strike Zone Discipline Profar
Fastest Baserunner Leury Garcia
Best Athlete Jordan Akins
Best Fastball Darvish
Best Curveball Perez
Best Slider Darvish
Best Changeup Miguel De Los Santos
Best Control Buckel
Best Defensive Catcher Kellin Deglan
Best Defensive Infielder Profar
Best Infield Arm Garcia
Best Defensive Outfielder Engel Beltre
Best Outfield Arm Akins
Goldstein pinpoints Olt and Tanner Scheppers as two prospects who saw their stock rise this winter based on performance and scouting reports.
John Sickels ranks Toronto’s farm system as the best and the Rangers third, but he said he’d have Texas at number one if he counted Darvish as a prospect. Sickels has Seattle fourth, Oakland 10th, and Los Angeles 18th.
Nearly 11,000 people attended Darvish’s press conference in the Sapporo Dome on Tuesday, during which he said: “I want people around the world to say that Darvish is the world’s best pitcher.”
I’ve recommended the Joe Sheehan Newsletter to you before and will do so again, this time in order to shoehorn in some very cool things he said in Monday’s edition, in which he featured five baseball books he’s got on his coffee table, including this one:
The Newberg Report: 2012 Edition. If there was a Jamey Newberg and a Scott Lucas for every single team, that would be amazing. As is, there are just the two, and the work they do covering the Texas Rangers and the team’s farm system is fantastic. This book is a collection of Newberg’s work over the previous year, as he follows the Rangers with the passion of a fan and the mind of an analyst. This isn’t a dispassionate breakdown, although his MLB.com work – also included here – tends to lean a bit more towards the neutral. In the collected Newberg Reports, you get great information about 17-year-olds you’ve never heard of playing in Instructional League . . . and the visceral excitement that comes from watching your team’s future stars as baseball embryos. For someone who has never shied away from invoking the language and the emotions of a fan in his own work, Newberg’s heart-on-sleeve writing is what makes the Newberg Report work.
There’s original material as well, including an exhaustive ranking of the top 72 prospects in the Rangers’ system and an in-depth look at the team’s challenges in assembling its 40-man roster. Angels, Mariners and Athletics fans may not get quite the kick out of the book that others do, but believe me, the bound edition of the Newberg Report is not just for fans of the Texas Rangers.
By the way, so much good new stuff at Scott’s website. You should give it some of your time.
Florida signed utility infielder-outfielder German Duran to a minor league deal. Righthander Michael Schlact signed with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the independent Atlantic League.
How would Rangers history have changed if Pudge Rodriguez hadn’t walked into Doug Melvin’s office on July 31, 1997, and prevented the deal that would have sent him to the Yankees for rookie catcher Jorge Posada and Class A righthander Tony Armas Jr. (and possibly Class AA lefthander Eric Milton) hours later?
That’s what I thought about when I saw clips of Posada’s retirement presser yesterday. That, and he and Jorge Fabregas both look like Victor Rojas.
Hopefully I’ll feel better whenever Roy Oswalt chooses between Texas and St. Louis, and I can weigh in with a little more energy, and substance. I’m not sure yet whether I want this supposed competition to turn out differently from the World Series, but I do feel pretty sure that if the Rangers are hoping to land the righthander, it’s likely part of a bigger plan that’s laid out on a whiteboard that none of us can see and perhaps that none of us have fully visualized.