Well, well, well. It appears as if the Texas Rangers aren’t just trying to fill out their rotation with a reclamation project or the best of what’s left after the best available starters have been snatched up.
They have talked with the Arizona Diamondbacks about a trade for former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke. The catch is that the Rangers would want Arizona to take on Shin-Soo Choo and the $62 million he’s owed the next three years to help ease the weight of the $138.5 million Greinke is owed the next four years.
Greinke is 34. He’s still an elite pitcher, and the Rangers could use one of those going forward. The farm system isn’t close to producing major-league help, and the Rangers could have Cole Hamels for only one more season.
But if the Rangers are looking at ways to get Greinke, it seems reasonable to assume that they have looked at ways to get other big-name starters. They might not have to trade Choo to do so on a couple of them.
Here’s a look at four, starting with Greinke. The Rangers would be better with each one, but which one should they pursue?
1. Greinke: As was noted above, the right-hander is 34. That’s a lot of pitches and a lot of innings. He’s owed $138.5 million over the next four seasons. Holy smokes.
But the Rangers apparently don’t see as much risk as expected. Greinke is noted for how well he takes care of himself, is a great athlete and is a student of the game. Those characteristics lend themselves to maintaining performance.
While Greinke can veto a trade to half of the 30 MLB teams, the Rangers aren’t one of them. Why? For one, they made a serious play for him at the infamous 2012 winter meetings. Then, there’s this: Mrs. Greinke is a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.
The deal would cost the Rangers their best on-base man, Choo, and presumably multiple prospects. The Rangers could try to pry a reliever out of the Diamondbacks or ask them to take on just a little of the remaining money owed to Greinke.
2. Yu Darvish: Logic says that a Darvish-Rangers reunion is possible. The free-agent right-hander likes living in Dallas, he likes the Rangers, the Rangers like him, they know each other well, and he sells tickets.
The money? It’s either all there or mostly there or could be there. Remember back to spring training for a moment. Ray Davis, the man with the most money in the ownership group, said he would be willing to approve a contract at market price.
(Jon Daniels should have gotten that on tape.)
The Rangers wouldn’t have to trade Choo to make this happen.
Oh, but what about those World Series starts? Darvish doesn’t have any, uh, guts, right? Maybe. But he’s also a smart guy, has experienced the worst pitching of his career at the worst time, and might be better for it the next time he’s in the postseason.
3. Jake Arrieta: There are some in the Rangers’ war room who like Arrieta, the former TCU star from Plano East High, more than Darvish. Maybe it’s the differences in their postseason careers.
The Rangers just don’t like Arrieta as much as agent Scott Boras currently does, at around $200 million. That is likely to come down, but probably not enough for the Rangers to pull off the deal without trading Choo.
Arrieta, like Greinke and Darvish, is a known gym rat who treats his body as a temple. The righty will be 32 in March, but doesn’t appear to be trending downward.
4. Chris Archer: One of the most club-friendly contracts in baseball was signed by Archer in 2014. He is owed $6.25 million in 2018 and $7.5 million in 2019 with club options at $9 million and $11 million in 2020 and 2021.
The Tampa Bay Rays are listening to offers on the right-hander, but as of Monday the Rangers hadn’t reached out to see what it would take to get the two-time All-Star who is one of the top strikeout pitchers in baseball.
It would take prospects, lots of prospects. Start with Jurickson Profar, who might not be a prospect anymore but would likely become the Rays’ starter at second base, and then throw in some top pitching prospects.
The Rangers are a little gun shy when it comes to trading prospects. There are exceptions, and Archer and Greinke would fall into that category.
Choo could stay put in a deal for Archer.