At the December Baseball Winter Meetings in Dallas, the Los Angles Angels made the biggest splash in the MLB. Arguably, they acquired the best player in baseball and a top-10 pitcher in a matter of 48 hours. Suddenly, the Texas Rangers were no longer considered the top team in the AL West, and certainly were not in line for a third straight World Series appearance.
Unlike previous ownership who often made impulsive and costly moves acquiring players, this set of owners and management remained patient and targeted top Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish. After weeks of mostly quiet and dull negotiations, both sides agreed to a six-year, $60 million dollar contract, which totals about $110 million once you add the negotiating fees. If Darvish lives up to his vast highly-acclaimed potential, this will be a steal for the Texas Rangers. The Rangers already have Colby Lewis, also a foreign product, who is currently slated as the top pitcher in the rotation. Throw in Darvish, a surging Holland, a solid Harrison and an explosive Feliz, and you have a strong rotation. Who needs CJ “chokes in October” Wilson?
The next move the Rangers make is sign Prince Fielder to similar numbers as the Darvish deal. I anticipate a five-year deal worth $100-115 million dollars. Although there has been strong backlash about this deal because it would essentially prevent Josh Hamilton from signing next year, this is a deal the Rangers must make.
The leadership, defense and intangibles that Hammy provides are undoubtedly crucial to the Ranger’s success, but his increasing age and frequent injuries will ultimately doom him. After what Hammy has gone through over the last ten years, I will absolutely not doubt his ability to have a strong (or even stronger) career from here on out, but a young and potent Prince Fielder is the best choice for the Rangers.
With a starting rotation of Lewis, Darvish, Holland, Feliz and Harrison, and a starting lineup of Kinsler, Andrus, Hammy, Fielder, Young, Beltre, Nelly, NA-PO-LI and Murphy, the Rangers are geared for their first World Championship this October. Kudos to Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan for remaining competitive and aggressive in the market to improve their team, a group of guys coming off of back-to-back World Series appearances.
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