Shin-Soo Choo has now emerged as the Rangers' top free agent target
Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News first reported in a tweet that free agent catcher Brian McCann was on the verge of signing with the New York Yankees.
He eventually posted about the development of the deal here.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports later reported that the deal was finalized for five years and $85 million with a vesting option for a sixth year that could make it $100 million.
Source: McCann deal with #Yankees is 5/85 with sixth-year vesting option that could bring it to 6/100.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 23, 2013
Well, that was quick.
I didn't expect this deal to get done for another week or so.
Regardless, Brian McCann, who was believed to be the Texas Rangers' top free-agent target this winter, is off the table. Grant reported that McCann had ruled out the Rangers prior to engaging in serious talks with the Yankees.
Grant also said in his blog that general manager Jon Daniels was convinced that catching prospect Jorge Alfaro is close enough to starting every day for the Rangers. He is seen as being two to three years away.
According to this tweet by Grant, the Rangers now have narrowed their focus in search of bats.
This puts Choo, Beltran squarely in the #Rangers sights. And I'll have some "smaller" names as targets for rounding out roster in column— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) November 23, 2013
The show must go on for Daniels and his front office. Texas still needs at least two more bats.
So what should the Rangers do now?.
1. Sign Shin-Soo Choo
I detailed why the Rangers should sign him in my last piece, but now he is more important than ever. He will be expensive; Jay Jaffe of SI.com predicted a possible five-year, $100 million deal.
But this club needs an outfielder, and Choo is the best option.
He could immediately take over in right field, moving Alex Rios to left, where I think he's capable of playing well.
Signing Jacoby Ellsbury might be the more glamorous option, but Texas already has Leonys Martin patrolling center field. Plus, Ellsbury is likely to be even more expensive than Choo. I'll pass there.
2. Sign Jarrod Saltalamacchia at catcher
Obviously, since McCann is off the market, the Rangers have a deficiency at catcher. It's a hole that needs to be filled. As I said in my last piece, Geovany Soto is a capable backup but does not have the capacity to be a No. 1 catcher on a contending team.
I'm suggesting that the Rangers bring back Salty.
Last season with the Boston Red Sox, the lefty hit .273 with 14 home runs and 65 runs batted in, per ESPN. He finished with 40 doubles and a respectable on-base percentage of .338.
The major plus for Salty is his age—he's only 28 and is in prime position to receive a three- or four-year deal.
Over the last two seasons in Boston, Salty has rediscovered his power stroke. He would be a great fit in Arlington with his tendency to pull the ball to right field. Although the catching market is particularly thin after McCann has been signed, Salty shouldn't be too expensive.
3. Sign Carlos Beltran
He was a key piece of the remarkably clutch and efficient St. Louis Cardinals offense last year. Even at 36, he is producing very nicely. His 24 home runs and 84 RBI last season seem to suggest that he is aging well. He is still relatively rangy in the outfield.
He is an attractive option for the Rangers because of his ability to field a demanding position. His power will translate well to Arlington, and with the exception of that awfully taken called third strike in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, he has a history of coming up big in key moments.
He's an all-around threat at the plate, and along with Adrian Beltre, he will provide another strong veteran presence in the lineup.
I'll assume the Rangers get all three of these guys. They definitely have the cash, and now that McCann is off the market, they have a sense of desperation as well. Here's a projected lineup for 2014.
RF: Shin-Soo Choo
SS: Elvis Andrus
LF: Alex Rios
1B: Prince Fielder
3B: Adrian Beltre
DH: Carlos Beltran
C: Jarrod Saltalamacchia
CF: Leonys Martin
2B: Jurickson Profar
As you probably noticed, this leaves out Mitch Moreland. Daniels has said he plans to keep Moreland with the club, but I wonder if this would make him available for a trade.