Offseason Moves Texas Rangers Should Have Made Going into 2013
The offseason that followed the 2012 season could have cured some of the problems the Texas Rangers have faced since the start of the 2013 campaign.
The club in Arlington seemed to be a front-runner to sign almost every high-profile free agent that winter, but nothing happened. More housekeeping was done—buying players they needed rather than wanted. For example, signing A.J. Pierzynski was arguably the best move the organization made that offseason, solidifying the weakest position on the team.
Looking back, the Rangers surely could have opened up the checkbook and now be in a different situation than they are. It is easy to speculate about what could have been at this point in time, but one can’t help but wonder if Texas would have closed on some of today’s premier players.
There are a few big names, in particular, that could have changed the course of the team’s recent struggles with pitching and injuries.
Signing RHP Zack Greinke
Possibly the biggest name on the free-agent market at the time was Zack Greinke, who seemed to be packing his bags and moving to Arlington.
It seemed like such a sure thing, that CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported that the Los Angeles Dodgers, who eventually signed Greinke, were feeling discouraged because the right-hander liked the Rangers’ sales pitch.
It didn’t work that way, and the 30-year-old has been nearly unbeatable in Los Angeles. Greinke is 22-5 with a 2.50 ERA since putting on a Dodger uniform, and his 1.121 WHIP is the lowest of any club he has pitched for.
Imagine just one year removed from signing Yu Darvish, the Rangers added Zack Greinke to the rotation. That would have been a solid one-two punch. Add Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando, and those four would have made a pretty good rotation last season, especially considering how many starters the club went through in 2013.
Greinke’s success last season only haunts the club after being one game shy of making the postseason. It also hurts knowing that having Greinke probably would have kept Jon Daniels from trading the farm for Matt Garza.
Re-Signing C/1B Mike Napoli
Bringing back Mike Napoli for a third season would have made more of a solid rotation in the lineup for manager Ron Washington.
Napoli has played first base and DH’d for the Boston Red Sox since signing with them last January. He did DH in Texas but also split time behind the plate with Yorvit Torrealba and Geovany Soto. Napoli only played in 108 games but still managed to hit 24 homers and drive in 56 runs in 2012.
Playing in Boston added a boost to the 32-year-old’s career. He did strikeout a career-high 187 times but also had career-highs in RBI (92), doubles (38), hits (129), runs (79) and walks (73).
This season, Napoli is off to another impressive start, already accumulating five homers, nine doubles and 22 RBI in 39 games.
Re-signing Napoli would have given the Rangers an extra option behind the plate and at DH. He and Pierzynski could have split time at each spot and had a bat on each side of the plate. In 2014, Napoli would have continued to be a bright spot at the catching position, which has once again become the weakest position for Texas.
Like Greinke, Napoli seemed to be coming back for at least another year with the Rangers. Since he didn’t, the club has had four different catchers sign at least one one-year contract.
Trading for OF Justin Upton
While some of his best years statistically were in Arizona, the 26-year-old is still hitting the long ball and scoring runs. He isn’t the greatest defensive outfielder, yielding a .969 fielding percentage but would have fit in well as the DH for the Rangers. Moreover, Upton would have been under club control until the end of the 2015 season.
The trade didn’t work out for Texas but did work for the Atlanta Braves. The former No. 1 overall pick in 2005 has 37 homers and 90 RBI since joining the Braves and earned a career-high 75 walks in 2013.
Upton also had a career-high 161 strikeouts in 2013, but his other numbers are something the Rangers could have used that year. Had the club been able to strike a deal for the Virginia native, he would have been the team leader in runs, walks and OBP.
Having Upton would have been a solution to what the Rangers faced during last year’s campaign. The club saw Nelson Cruz get suspended for 50 games, David Murphy never performed and Lance Berkman barely played.
Signing RHP Kyle Lohse
Kyle Lohse didn’t sign with the Milwaukee Brewers until just a few days before the 2013 season and turned out to be one of the best acquisitions the Brew Crew made.
Just a year removed from a 16-3, 2.86 ERA campaign with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012, the Brewers signed Lohse to a three-year, $33 million deal. He finished his first season in Milwaukee with an 11-10 record but had a 3.35 ERA and a career-low 36 walks.
The 35-year-old continues to pitch well this season, too. So far, he is 5-1 with a 2.88 ERA and is on pace to set a career-high in strikeouts.
Lohse is nowhere near the premier pitcher that Greinke is but would have been another solution to the same problem. He made at least 30 starts for the third-straight season last year and could have been one of three pitchers in the Texas rotation to make that many starts.
The best part is that he would have come relatively cheap. The California native would have been paid more than most of the Rangers starters, but his contract pays out just $11 million per year. Considering the lucrative deals that most pitchers sign nowadays, Lohse would have been a bargain.
Again, finding healthy starting pitching was the biggest issue for the Rangers last season and adding Lohse would have added solid depth to the rotation.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com
You can follow Trey on Twitter @treydwarren