Recently the Rangers traded away Justin Smoak and prospects for Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe. Even though Smoak was hitting a poor .203, he was still their future so they need a first-baseman for this year and possibly the next. Here are 5 intriguing options to consider...
According to mlbtraderumors.com the Rangers were, "Interested in a righty bat." While this is true and Lance Berkman is a switch-hitter, but how often do you have a former .300 hitter and all-star on the market for cheap. Yes, Berkman is hitting .250 this season and he hit .274 the last, but their is hope for Lance yet. Lance has a .372 OBP this season, and an .820 OPS. Both of which are above the MLB average and would be improved hitting in the all-star like Rangers line up. For example, you hit Lance 7th in the order behind guys like Vlad, Hamilton, and Cruz you have multiple RBI chances and you have to get pitched to based on the runners on base. Under Clint Hurdle I think Lance would perform greatly, but you may ask what return for Lance? He is in the last year of his deal so likely he will be on the block. The possible return could include Kasey Kiker and Zack Phillips. Who are pitchers in the AA/AAA, and we all know of the Rangers deep system. Even after the Smoak trade they were still #1 with ease according to Baseball America. The case has been made for Lance, and now for the 4 other targets.
The Cubs have Derrek Lee on the block, and the interest for him is shallow at best. He is having the worst season of his career hitting just .244, but like Berkman he has light at the end of the tunnel. He hit .306 last year with 31 long balls and 111 RBI's. He has a .333 OBP currently, and would have a lot of pressure taken off playing in Texas everyday. He is still an elite defensive player, and hitting 7th would enable him to just hit at the plate. He wouldn't be that 3rd or 4th hitter with the Rangers, and he would love that. There is nothing like the Chicago media riding you for poor performance, and your nut job starting pitcher ripping you for not diving at an unplayable ball. Alright, now I am going to move away from Carlos Zambrano, and analyze his trade value. Like Berkman, he is a free agent after this year and his value is way down. It was rumored on mlbtraderumors.com that the Cubs were on the verge of a fire sale so possibly the Rangers could get him for cheap. Perhaps the Rangers offer Engel Beltre and Guillermo Moscoso then see what happens. This in my opinion is the best option for the Rangers, and I think Ranger fans would hail him as their best defensive first-baseman ever.
The Rangers interest in Jorge Cantu is no secret, but at what price? He is hitting .261 at this point with 10 home runs and 53 RBI's. He has never been a big home run hitter, but his strength is hitting guys in with runners in scoring position. Which Jorge is very good at. He had 100 RBI's last year and 95 the year before. His downside is his weak .311 OBP, and his lack of power at first-base. Yet the Marlins really like Cantu, he is in the final year of his deal, and wouldn't give him for anything less than a top 7 prospect return. Which is a price the Rangers will balk at, unless the Marlins come down. Keep a close eye on the Cantu situation.
Ty Wigginton has been a life-saver for the Orioles this season. He has filled in for Garrett Atkins, Brian Roberts, and Miguel Tejada at some point this season. He plays 5 positions on the field (1B, 2B, 3B, LF, and RF) , and is a Ron Washington type player who can fill in anywhere. He is a righty-bat which the Rangers covet, but is he too average for Texas? He is hitting .248 with 14 HR's and 45 RBI's, but those are very close to his career averages and you wonder if he's destined for a bad 2nd half. He would come at a cheap price, but would he be the perfect 7 hitter? He is in the final year of his contract. His likely return would include Omar Poveda and Marcus Lemon who are very affordable for Texas, but they have high upside. Their issues are talent right now and lack of consistency. Another situation to keep an eye in Baltimore.
This option may be a creative and cheap one, but is somewhat possible. Tejada is barely 5 foot 9 in tall so he's not your prototypical 1st base option, but he can still drive in runs. So far this season he is hitting .272 with 7 HR's and 35 RBI's, but he has missed time on the DL and has hit high in the order. His OBP this season is .311 with a lackluster .368 SLG %, but he is an RBI machine so he would fit greatly in the 7 spot. He is also in the last year of his deal. The Orioles are asking little for Tejada so I may not even need to name a name (It could be a player to be named later), but I'll name a name. Pedro Strop would be the return for Tejada possibly. Strop throws hard, but has little control. Sounds like a solid fit for Tejada.