The Cincinnati Reds' Homer Bailey might be another realistic trade option for the Rangers.
According to this October 14 article by Robb Hoff of Yahoo! Sports, a Rangers-Reds trade for Bailey might be "best for both teams."
Much has changed on the Rangers' side of things since October 14. At the time Hoff wrote this piece, he suggested that the Rangers could acquire Bailey in exchange for second baseman Jurickson Profar and center fielder Leonys Martin. This was, of course, well before Texas traded incumbent leadoff man Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers and hauled in feared slugger Prince Fielder.
Now that the Rangers have opened up a full-time spot for Profar after Kinsler's departure, I don't see him in a potential deal for Bailey at all. Quite frankly, I don't see Martin in it either.
But the Rangers' need for another starter is still front and center, even after adding Fielder and leadoff man extraordinaire Shin-Soo Choo.
Let's take a look at what acquiring Bailey could mean for the Rangers' rotation, as well as what it might take to land him from the Reds.
Bailey, 27, will be a free agent after the 2014 season. He's pitched in Cincinnati for the entirety of his seven-year career. He had a solid 2012 season and an excellent 2013 season with the Reds, a year in which he threw two no-hitters. This season, he'll make just north of $9 million in his final year of team control, according to Hoff.
Last season, he went 11-12 with a 3.49 ERA in 209 innings. Ignore the wins and losses. In my mind, that is nearly a meaningless stat for a pitcher. It's largely a measure of how good an offense is. Earned run average and opponents' batting average are the two most revealing stats for how effective an individual pitcher is. In addition to his 3.49 ERA, right-handed hitters only hit .205 off Bailey in 2013, while lefties hit .264.
He allowed 181 hits in those innings, while striking out 199 and walking just 54. Bailey's top two attributes are his durability and control, while featuring above-average velocity. He's made 65 starts in the last two seasons, and has only walked 106 in 417 innings. That is elite control.
Bailey also has an impressive 3.46 strikeout to walk ratio over the last two seasons. That will translate perfectly to the AL.
The one noticeable flaw with Bailey is his susceptibility to giving up home runs. But, pitching in Great American Ballpark, one of the NL's premier launching pads, he's only allowed 46 long balls in those 417 innings over the last two seasons. That's actually a solid rate.
Bailey has a four seam fastball and a wicked two seam fastball in the 94 to 97 mph range, accompanied by a slider with sharp tilt and sweeping break. He's also got a big curveball and a sneaky splitter. Both his stuff and velocity are above average. He's one of those guys that is just tough to hit, and could give the opposing lineup fits any given night.
How does he fit in the Rangers' rotation?
He could immediately step into the No. 4 spot behind Matt Harrison to help break up the order of lefties. Martin Perez is an ideal No. 5 starter right now, considering his age. He would be more comfortable as the No. 5 starter.
Bailey is a horse, who eats innings and doesn't get hurt. I believe he has the stuff and velocity to succeed in the AL after spending his entire career in the NL. He wouldn't be another Ryan Dempster cross-league failure. Dempster hit 89 mph on his fastball. Bailey routinely hits 95 to 96 with sharp movement. Plus velocity counts for a lot.
Two more things about Bailey. One, he's a native of LaGrange, Texas. I'm willing to bet that he definitely has interest in pitching in his home state. Hoff even reports that Bailey never seemed too excited to pitch in Cincinnati and that he and the Reds didn't seem too eager or optimistic about signing him to an extension.
Secondly, Bailey is a guy that could likely be locked up long term for a reasonable price—somewhere in the Matt Harrison range of six years, $57 million. That should be a ceiling value for Bailey though. I can see him commanding around or right at $10 million per year, if he were to pitch well for the Rangers this season.
But what would Bailey cost the Rangers?
As Hoff reported, Cincinnati and Bailey likely weren't on the best terms. He believes that the Reds would have no problem shipping off Bailey, as Tony Cingrani and Aroldis Chapman could be ready to join Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos and Mike Leake in their rotation.
But it would obviously be in the Reds' best interest to trade Bailey now and get something in return, rather than just play him out till 2015 when he's a free agent and could decline Cincinnati's qualifying offer.
Hoff suggested, before the Rangers carried out their offseason business, that Texas give up Profar and Martin.
"No way," is what Texas GM Jon Daniels should be saying to that proposal. Bailey is talented, but that is too much to let go for a guy who has only had two solid years as a full-time, 32-start starter.
The thing to keep in mind here, is that Bailey won't require a huge package. Therefore, Daniels has even more depth and lateral room to put together a smaller package that appeals to Cincinnati. The smaller the deal needs to be, the more options Daniels has.
How about this deal:
Texas trades Luke Jackson and Luis Sardinas, while taking on Bailey's full 2014 salary, and gets Bailey.
That's just one possibility, but it's a fair deal in my mind. Remember, Texas would only be getting Bailey for one season, so he shouldn't be able to command too much from the Rangers. This is a move that shouldn't cost the Rangers any current starter in the rotation.
The Reds get two high-end prospects as well as salary relief in return. Jackson could be in their bullpen by the end of next season or the start of 2015. Sardinas provides infield depth. The added bonus for them, is that Bailey's departure potentially leaves a door open for Chapman in the rotation.
Texas gets a good pitcher for 2014 to add to an already great rotation. Daniels can easily slap a qualifying offer on Bailey after the season, and at least get a first round draft pick if he signs elsewhere. But I really believe Bailey will have interest in an extension with the Rangers, especially if they win the World Series in 2014.
He is a Texas boy after all.
With Bailey in the mix, here is what the Rangers' rotation would look like next season.
I would love to have Bailey in Texas' rotation. That's a nice balance of righties and lefties, with heat all around. It's also a group that is very controlled, yet aggressive. Each of these guys tend to attack hitters without fear, and all of them have quality stuff.
This rotation would slide in just behind Detroit's as the second-best in the AL.
If you're still a bit skeptical, check out those above highlights from Bailey's July 2 no-hitter against the San Francisco Giants.
I think this would be a very realistic possibility for a deal. Daniels, like he should with all other options, should take a good look at this.
What do you think of this possible deal? Would you want Bailey in the Rangers' rotation?
*All stats and contract info courtesy of baseball-reference.com