Vacation is over just as baseball business is about to pick up. Might as well get going after the biggest off-season story has been all but settled and with four days of the annual winter meetings directly ahead.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from the past few weeks.
1. MLB and the players association hammered out a tentative collective bargaining agreement Wednesday night, hours before the 2011 CBA was set to expire, somewhere in Irving but most likely the Four Seasons at Las Colinas.
After all the drama and threats of a lockout, at least according to reports, not much appears to have shaken the core of the game from the 2011 CBA to 2016, at least according to reports.
The owners/commissioner caved on an international draft, and if you listened closely you heard cheers from the front office at Globe Life Park. All teams will be capped on international spending but at roughly the same amount, reportedly.
Free-agent compensation is getting a face-lift, though not until next off-season. Qualifying offers remain in place, and teams will not lose first-round picks for signing players who refuse qualifying offers.
26 Consecutive years, since 1995, without a work stoppage MLB will have had at the end of the collective bargaining agreement that was reached Wednesday night
The luxury tax will increase, but that only affects a handful of teams.
The owners also couldn’t nix the silly September rule that allows roster to expand to anyone on the 40-man roster.
Everything else is cosmetic, though not insignificant. Trumpets are blaring after a report stating that the All-Star Game will no longer decide home-field advantage for the World Series. That’s six years too late for the Rangers. There will also be schedule changes that allow for more days off. Those take effect in 2018.
The knee-jerk takeaway here is that both sides ultimately realized that they have it pretty darn good and to mess with a good thing would prove foolish. MLB is a $9 billion industry, and the game is arguably at its most popular in years because of the Cubs winning the World Series.
The agreement comes just in time for the winter meetings, which will go on as scheduled next week in National Harbor, Md., just outside (by a matter of feet) Washington D.C. The Rangers will be there looking for ...
2. A top starting pitcher, a starting center fielder and a first baseman. Each affects the others.
The Rangers are willing to dump resources (players in trade and cash for inherited salary) for an ace, but the field is small and once again starts with Chris Sale. His salary the next few years is actually ridiculously affordable, but others who might be had aren’t so affordable.
Still affordable and available are Colby Lewis and Derek Holland, and they won’t look too bad in a shaky free-agent market for pitchers if the Rangers miss out on an ace.
Ian Desmond and Carlos Gomez aren’t going to be too affordable and could be beyond the Rangers’ means with or without an ace coming into the fold. The Rangers are looking elsewhere for a center fielder, and two interesting names are Andrew McCutchen and Billy Hamilton.
McCutchen is a former National League MVP with Pittsburgh, where Rangers manager Jeff Banister got to know the All-Star. He also comes at a reasonable salary for the next couple seasons, and to get him might cost a suitor a big-leaguers, a headlining prospect and another lower-tier prospect.
Billy Hamilton posted career-highs in batting average (.260), on-base percentage (.321) and stolen bases (58).
Hamilton, meanwhile, is a defensive whiz who showed more at the plate for Cincinnati than he had previously in his career. He can also fly around the bases, though he would not be the best candidate to lead off as he is limited offensively.
Those duties will fall to Shin-Soo Choo, as long as he’s healthy, and certainly not a first baseman. That position seems to be getting overlooked this off-season after the shortfall in production that has hampered the Rangers there.
Mitch Moreland developed into a solid defender and has some power, but not enough of it and certainly not enough of it on a consistent basis. Like Desmond and Gomez, he’s a free agent, and there are a few attractive first basemen available to replace him.
Edwin Encarnacion tops the list. He might break the bank, but if the Rangers can’t find an ace, they might have to overwhelm with offense. He can overwhelm, but his contract could become a hindrance that might prevent the Rangers from extending ...
3. Yu Darvish, who can become a free agent after next season and who the Rangers want to keep in the fold with their inability to develop a starting pitcher.
Well, they have helped developed some, who they have then traded to other teams. Kyle Hendricks, Tanner Roark, Jerad Eickhoff and Jake Thompson would look pretty good in the Rangers’ rotation right about now. So would Alec Asher, for that matter.
But then the Rangers wouldn’t have had Cristian Guzman (for Roark) and Ryan Dempster (for Hendricks), and wouldn’t have Cole Hamels (for Asher, Eickhoff and Thompson).
Anyhoo, the Rangers sense that Darvish wants to remain with them and might do so at market value. Market value for a pitcher of his caliber is $30 million a year, and the Rangers might have to go there even though they already have a few bad big contracts on their payroll.
Without Darvish, the Rangers would enter next off-season with a rotation of Hamels, Martin Perez, TBA, TBA and TBA. A nice season could push Andrew Cashner, signed last week for one year and $10 million, out of their price range. Cashner, though, is said to be thrilled to be with the Rangers and would be a candidate to re-sign.
Business is about to pick up.