Players Who Have Likely Played Their Last Game in a Rangers Uniform
With the offseason quickly approaching for every team in the majors, franchises will begin to figure out who will and who won't be back for the 2014 season.
The Rangers have a number of players who are entering free agency, or who could be used as trade chips in an effort to acquire other key pieces to next year's roster. Who are some players who suited up for Texas last season who likely won't be putting on a Rangers uniform in 2014?
All stats and info courtesy of MLB.com, ESPN.com, BaseballReference.com, FanSided.com, NBCSports.com, MLBTradeRumors.com and DallasNews.com.
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Outfielder David Murphy
This one should come as no surprise. David Murphy had an underwhelming season in 2013, something a player on a contract year can't afford to have.
An eight-year veteran of the league, Murphy hit just .220 last season for Texas, the lowest average of his career. In addition to his poor average, he only managed to drive in 45 RBI, 16 less than his 2012 total.
As it stands right now, the Rangers still have corner outfielders Alex Rios and Craig Gentry to go along with center fielder Leonys Martin. There is a very real possibility that Texas could bring back free agent Nelson Cruz as well, decreasing Murphy's chances of returning even more.
Since you won't find Nelson Cruz's name on this list, David Murphy looks to be the odd man out in what could already be a loaded Rangers outfield in 2014.
First Baseman Lance Berkman
I'm almost willing to guarantee that Lance Berkman won't be a Texas Ranger in 2014. After getting off to a hot start last season, injuries plagued the soon to be 38-year-old Berkman.
Texas does have him signed through the 2014 season with a club option of $12 million. Injuries aside, Berkman hit just .242 with six homers and 34 RBI, numbers that are not worthy of all the money he is due next year.
Texas can buy out Berkman's contract next season for $1 million, opening up a lot of cap room that could help bring in better, and healthier players. It may not even come to the point of Texas having to buy out Berkman's contract however, as retirement could be a realistic option for the veteran hitter.
Starting Pitcher Matt Garza
The Rangers traded away four players to get Matt Garza halfway through the season with the hopes that he would propel them into the postseason. Unfortunately for Texas, the move did not pay off and the trade will likely have been for nothing.
Garza is now a free agent and will be 30-years old at the start of 2014, making him one of the younger free agent starters on the market. He could draw a lot of attention from teams due to his age and the fact that he is still a solid pitcher for any rotation.
He has a career record of 46-49 with a 4.01 ERA during his six years spent as an American League pitcher. Compare that to his 21-18 record with a 3.45 ERA as a member of the Cubs, a National League team, it wouldn't be surprising to see him pitch somewhere in the NL next season.
Garza went 4-5 with a 4.38 ERA during his time with the Rangers, which is nowhere near what they hoped for when trading for him. Unless they can get him back for a reasonable price, don't expect Texas to give Garza another shot with the team next season.
Closing Pitcher Joe Nathan
Joe Nathan posted a 6-2 record with a 1.39 ERA last season with the Rangers while converting on 43 of his 46 save opportunities. That being said, the Rangers may opt to let Joe Nathan test the free agent market this offseason.
As it stands right now, the Rangers are set to pay Nathan $9 million next season, but his contract remains another one that could be bought out.
According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, Nathan is looking for a multi-year deal that Texas isn't willing to give Nathan at the moment.
Should the two sides be unable to reach an agreement on an extension, Nathan could wind up pitching elsewhere in 2014.
Shortstop Jurickson Profar
Shortstop Jurickson Profar was the Rangers' top prospect just a year ago. Profar played in 85 games for the Rangers last season, hitting .234 with six homers and 26 RBI. Now the former top prospect could be Texas' biggest trade chip heading into the offseason.
Texas made a long-term commitment to shortstop Elvis Andrus last April, signing him to an eight-year, $120 million deal. With Andrus' deal in place, and no other place for Profar to permanently play at this point, the Rangers could look to deal him for the right player.
One place the Rangers could send Profar is Tampa Bay. Texas could make a huge splash in the trade market by sending Profar, and likely other players to Tampa Bay for starting pitcher David Price. Price is a dominant lefty who won the Cy Young award in 2012 and has everything Texas needs to help fill their rotation.
In addition to Andrus and Profar, the Rangers also have shortstop Luis Sardinas in their minor league system. Sardinas is currently ranked as the second best prospect in Texas' organization, and while he may not be called up next season, he'll be in the majors soon enough.
A player of Profar's caliber can't spend too many more seasons in a utility role, and the Rangers realize that. While questions still remain as to whether or not Texas will or will not trade Profar, one thing remains certain. If they do deal him to another club, they'll receive a solid player in return, and fill a gaping need in their rotation, or on the field.
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