Could the Rangers land Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka?
Even as spring training nears, there are still rumors swirling around every major league team as to moves it might make or players it might sign. One of the most difficult things to do as a fan is making the decision on whether you should believe the rumors you are hearing regarding your favorite team.
Could the Texas Rangers be a big player in the sweepstakes for Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka? Will they sign somebody else to the rotation following the injury to Derek Holland? These are questions that some fans are wondering as the offseason draws to a close. Here is a look at how much some of these rumors should or shouldn't be believed.
Rangers Signing Masahiro Tanaka: Sell
The Rangers are certainly interested in 25-year-old pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, but I can't imagine them signing him at this point.
According to David Waldstein of The New York Times, Tanaka could garner a deal worth over $100 million. Keep in mind that even though he has played seven seasons of professional ball in Japan, Tanaka is still a rookie in the majors.
Offering a contract of $100 million or more to a player who is unproven at the major league level is a major risk, and while some teams in the majors will take that risk, Texas seems unlikely to do so.
The Rangers will already have a top-tier rotation in 2014, but the loss of Derek Holland will hurt them early on. While Holland is out, the Rangers might wish they had a guy like Tanaka in their rotation, but once he returns, Holland should be able to contribute to the team's success like he has the last five seasons.
Rangers' Interest in Jerome Williams: Buy
Gerry Fraley of The Dallas Morning News reported the other day that the Rangers might be interested in right-handed pitcher Jerome Williams as a replacement for Derek Holland. Believe that the rumors about Texas being interested in Williams are true, but go a step beyond that and assume that the Rangers might be interested in a number of starters to fill the void left by Holland.
Williams isn't the prettiest option when it comes to looking for help in the rotation, but he's an option nonetheless. He is 42-47 in his career and has an ERA of 4.35. He has never posted more than 10 wins in a season, and his best ERA came in his rookie season (3.30).
There are other free-agent starters who could be better options over Williams. Bronson Arroyo, A.J. Burnett and Jon Garland are still out there and would likely be of more use than Williams, but they could come at a higher cost. Look to see what Texas does regarding the injury to Holland, but a move of some sort appears likely.
Rangers' Interest in Mark Reynolds: Sell
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that the Rangers are interested in veteran infielder Mark Reynolds.
The signing of Reynolds seems improbable, mostly because Texas would likely use him as a role player off the bench. It's not hard to figure out what a team gets when signing Reynolds. He is a high-strikeout, low-batting-average type of player.
Aside from Masahiro Tanaka, which player would you most prefer the Rangers to sign?
Not only does Reynolds strike out a lot, but he also strikes out at record-setting pace. In 2009, he set the major league record for 229 strikeouts in a season, beating the previous record of 204 strikeouts in a season, which was also set by him.
He does average 33 homers and 93 RBI a season, but from a bench role, he may prove ineffective. With Texas already being solidified at third base and first base, his best bet at making the starting lineup would be as a designated hitter, where he would likely compete with Mitch Moreland for that job.
Should Reynolds mean nothing more to Texas than a bench player, expect the organization to look elsewhere. A player with as high a strikeout ratio as Reynolds and a .233 career average has a greater probability of not coming through in pinch-hit opportunities than he does at capitalizing on them.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.
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