The World Series will last no longer than Wednesday, which means that the annual off-season free-for-all begins this week.
Players on the cusp of free agency become free agents as soon as the last out of the Fall Classic is recorded. Teams have a five-day window to negotiate with their own free agents before players are able to sign wherever, whenever.
But there are also players who will receive qualifying offers so that if they sign with another team, their old team is rewarded compensation in the form of draft picks in the June draft.
The Texas Rangers have five free agents, but only Ian Desmond is likely to receive a qualifying offer. That one-year offer this off-season is worth $17.2 million.
The Rangers spent last week in Surprise, Ariz., to get a handle on what they plan to do.
They’ve already made one decision.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction to what has happened since the American League Division Series ended and what could happen going forward.
1. The Rangers are not going to exercise their club option on left-hander Derek Holland, likely ending the ride of a home-grown pitcher who had an up and down seven seasons with the Rangers but was a key part of two World Series teams.
The option is for $11 million with a $1.5 million buyout. The Rangers are going to use that money to upgrade the rotation — which won’t be easy — or, say, to help re-sign Desmond.
The Star-Telegram reported last week that multiple clubs had contacted the Rangers about a trade for Holland, who would come with two controllable years at a relatively reasonable price. (The Rangers also hold a club option for 2018 at $11.5 million or a $1 million buyout.)
Those interested teams are likely mindful of Jeremy Hellickson. He was traded last off-season by Arizona, albeit at a more affordable salary, to Philadelphia, where he enjoyed a rebound season.
A healthy Holland, one who has rediscovered some velocity, would be a candidate for a bounce-back 2017.
A source said that the Rangers would consider re-signing Holland for less money, and he would be open to at least listening. The Ohio native now considers the Metroplex his home, and he doesn’t want to leave.
Leaving, though, might be the best option for his career after some officials have registered concerns that his off-field activities are a distraction. Holland, of course, disagrees wholeheartedly, as do the players who have worked out with him in the off-season.
The whole change-of-scenery thing appears to be in Holland’s future.
2. Holland made $10 million in 2016, so the $8.5 million the Rangers are saving by taking him off the payroll will help their budget as they try to add starting pitching.
Here’s the catch: The free-agent market for rotation help is not good.
Rich Hill might be at the top of the class, and he’ll be 37 at the start of next season. He showed well this season, when he was healthy, and the Los Angeles Dodgers, who acquired him from Oakland at the trade deadline, are reportedly interested in retaining him.
So, that leaves Hellickson, Andrew Cashner, Jorge de la Rosa, Ivan Nova and possible Edinson Volquez, if Kansas City gives him the Holland treatment with the club option it holds.
The Rangers will again consider re-signing Colby Lewis and might be players if Shohei Otani is posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters, Yu Darvish’s old team. There’s been no word if that will happen.
Assuming he’s not, are any of those others guys a significant upgrade over Holland? An upgraded rotation is what general manager Jon Daniels pledged in the season postmortem.
A trade looks like the only avenue to a better rotation, but there’s another catch: Daniels doesn’t want to trade from a farm system that, while not depleted by trades, isn’t what it was two seasons ago.
Daniels could find himself trading from a deep pool of big-league relievers or one of their surplus infielders.
Elvis Andrus is a more attractive option for teams after his first career .300 season, but he’s also more attractive to the Rangers. Jurickson Profar is another possibility, and he’s young and showed that his shoulder his healthy.
But a reliever and a shortstop won’t be enough to get the kind of upgrade the Rangers are seeking.
3. Among other positions the Rangers were mulling last week was what to do in center field, where Desmond was a bright spot, where fellow bright spot Carlos Gomez has played almost his entire career and where Delino DeShields lost traction.
Daniels seems to favor Desmond, who impressed as much with what he did off the field an on it. The Rangers had no complaints about Gomez, who came with some baggage in August but was an exemplary citizen. DeShields is in Mexico trying to recapture the fire that turned him into a lineup catalyst in 2015.
Desmond won’t come cheap. Gomez will come cheaper, though he reestablished some of his value with his strong final six weeks. DeShields is cheap and under control contractually.
Daniels doesn’t expect the Rangers to be a player for Yoenis Cespedes, who made 61 starts in 2016 in center field and is perhaps the top free-agent position player.
The other position of particular concern is first base. Mitch Moreland isn’t likely to be re-signed, which would leave Ryan Rua and Joey Gallo as the front-runners to take over.
Some are bullish on Rua, who rebounded after a lost 2015, and some want to see Gallo open 2017 at Triple A Round Rock and force the Rangers to make a decision on him.
Maybe the Rangers will get sentimental and try to sign Mike Napoli. That might go down as the most popular decision Daniels would ever make.