Ten quick things:
1. FORGET YU: Most in the national media thinks Texas is, at worst, one of three teams with the best shot at bringing Yu Darvish to camp in two months. Gotta say, I’m not seeing it.
As I said yesterday, while C.J. Wilson’s Angels contract didn’t seem that outrageous, I have faith that the Rangers had sound reasoning to not go to five years at $15.5 million annually on the proven lefthander. Are they going to commit at least that many years to a pitcher who hasn’t faced a big league lineup and hasn’t worked on an American rotation schedule and hasn’t regularly used the differently sized Major League ball?
Let’s assume they would – and believe me, from what I’ve seen of and heard about Darvish (limited), I’d love to see him here. But assume Texas would be willing to give five (or more) years to the 25-year-old, even though you might conceivably argue that his younger body might not include a younger arm than Wilson’s, and that there’s no way he’s better conditioned than Wilson and that there’s no basis for believing he’d be as suited for Rangers Ballpark as Wilson proved he was. Assume length of contract is not an issue.
Let’s say that the scattered reports that Darvish will demand $20 million per year are baseless and untrue, and that he wouldn’t even expect Wilson money. Let’s say what’s important to Darvish (who makes just under $6.5 million per year in Japan) is that he gets more than Daisuke Matsuzaka got five years ago from Boston – six years and $52 million ($8.67 million AAV). Let’s call it six years and $60 million. (Even though ESPN’s Jim Bowden predicts Texas will sign him for four years and $75 million.)
And let’s say Texas, not wanting to go 5/77.5 for Wilson (and again, as we discussed yesterday, there’s absolutely no reason to assume Wilson would have taken a mere match from the Rangers), would go 6/60 for Darvish. He’s younger, the AAV is lighter, they might even think he’s a better pitcher right now. Let’s say (1) 6/60 is a number Texas is comfortable paying Darvish and (2) 6/60 is a number Texas believes Darvish would take, and (3) the Rangers really, really want Darvish here.
OK, now what bid are you going to seal to feel confident that you’re the club that gets that chance to negotiate with Darvish until late January?
More than the $51.111111 million that Boston posted for the Matsuzaka rights?
The unusually inactive Yankees are downplaying interest, but their rotation needs are arguably greater than the Rangers’, and they have added incentive to make sure that the Blue Jays (as heavily rumored as anyone on Darvish) don’t get him. Yankees GM Brian Cashman said yesterday: “I am ready to rock and roll. The Yankees are open for business.” Mm-hmm. Kevin Goldstein (Baseball Prospectus) expects the similarly quiet Red Sox to be in the mix.
Call it $40 million. Might not be enough in the sealed bid process, but let’s say that’s the number Texas thinks it would take, and that the club is right.
As Evan Grant (Dallas Morning News) wonders, “If Rangers wouldn’t go to $80 million on C.J. Wilson, why would they go to $100 million total investment on Darvish?”
Grant “expect[s] a bid from [the] Rangers on Darvish, just expect[s] it to be middle of [the] pack.” Me, too.
Trading for a proven number two type, using part of a deep prospect inventory to secure two or three years of a far more predictable commodity, seems like a more likely plan for Texas, which Grant pointed out will commit millions this winter to a number of arbitration-driven raises (Elvis Andrus, Nelson Cruz, Mike Napoli, Matt Harrison, Mike Adams, David Murphy, and Mark Lowe are eligible) plus Ballpark improvements.
Take a look at what the Rangers’ payroll stands to be this year, at this moment, before additions. It projects (via those arb jumps) to be over $110 million. Paying (hypothetically) a $40 million posting fee plus the first $10 million or so of a long-term contract right away seems unlikely to work.
Would like to be wrong about this, but I don’t see the Rangers playing real big on Darvish.
2. NEXT OF KINS: There are reports this morning that the club has been in talks with Ian Kinsler about a long-term extension that would keep him here beyond 2013, when the club has the option right now to pay him $10 million after paying him $7 million in 2012. There have been various rumors of a club interest in extending Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli (whose club control expires after 2012) as well, but the Kinsler story is the first to describe what appear to be actual discussions.
Says Kinsler: “I want to stay here. I was drafted by the Rangers, and I want to be a Ranger. You never know how long it’s going to take. I think the sooner the better for them, and the sooner the better for me.”
3. MUCH MOORE: Love what the Rays did with young lefty Matt Moore, he who has to his credit all of 19.1 big league innings, more than half of which came in the series against Texas in October. Five years, $14 million, plus 2017 and 2018 and 2019 club options that can push the deal to eight years and $39.75 million (or more, based on workload incentives).
4. ANOTHER THING THE ANGELS DID TO THE RANGERS ON THURSDAY: When it became clear on Wednesday night that Wilson was going to sign with the Angels, it set Texas up to end up with the 19th pick in the June draft, forfeited to them by Los Angeles. With the Angels signing Pujols as well, that pick instead goes to St. Louis, and Texas gets Los Angeles’s second-round pick, which will probably end up somewhere in the range of 70th to 75th overall. Texas still gets a supplemental first-rounder, maybe around number 34, but man.
19/34 vs. 34/70.
5. KING’S RANSOM: ESPN’s David Schoenfield wrote a column suggesting Seattle ought to trade Felix Hernandez, who will be a free agent after 2013, with almost no chance of the Mariners being contention-competitive in the two intervening seasons. It’s a conversation I’ve struck up a few times myself in the past week.
He’s the one guy (well, he and the unavailable Clayton Kershaw) who I’d allow the other team to pick its choice of any three Texas prospects for. We could haggle over prospects four and five and six.
I’d hope that Seattle ownership would let GM Jack Zduriencik move King Felix, but it’s probably unlikely. And even if ownership would be open to the idea, the fact that Justin Smoak hasn’t quite lit things up (even though Blake Beavan has been pretty solid) doesn’t help if the question is whether it’s OK to trade with Texas and keep Hernandez in the division even though that’s one of the two teams you’re chasing.
6. CBA: F: We’ve talked about this already, and I’m sure I’ll get into it more later on, but let’s say next winter, there’s an opportunity to trade (as an example) Jurickson Profar, Neil Ramirez, Jordan Akins, Tanner Scheppers, David Perez, and Nomar Mazara for Kershaw. Forget the merits of the deal for a second.
Under the new CBA, the next Profar and next Ramirez and next Akins (if he even chooses baseball) and next Scheppers and Perez and Mazara are going to be a lot less likely to be scouted and signed by one organization, so a few years from now, an effort to trade for the next Kershaw is necessarily going to take a deeper bite into of a franchise’s farm system.
The result of the changes in draft and international expenditures is that, in order to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox, there are going to be fewer alternatives to simply spending like the Yankees and Red Sox, which most clubs can’t even think about doing. Going forward, it’s apparent that smart, tenacious, creative scouting as a way to beat the monoliths will be less rewarded. Better off to have the deep pockets that market shares and geography help to ensure. As far as competitive balance is concerned, Major League Baseball is choosing to become the NBA.
7. BOOK RELEASE PARTY: The book release party for the 2012 Bound Edition is this Wednesday, December 14, from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at Sherlock’s Baker Street Pub & Grill in Arlington (254 Lincoln Square, a few blocks west of Rangers Ballpark). The private party will be non-smoking – definitely kid-friendly.
Those of you who have preordered should have received your books by now, or certainly will before Wednesday. You can still order books online at any time, and we’ll also have plenty of books on hand at the party.
This year, we are NOT requiring that you buy a book in order to get autographs at the event. Derek Holland will be with us, and we might have another surprise guest or two that night. Time permitting, I expect we’ll do Q&A in addition to autographs. I’ll update you when I can.
8. BOUND EDITION SHIPMENTS: If you haven’t ordered books yet and are thinking about buying some to give as holiday gifts, they’re now shipping within a day or two of your orders.
10. MAY 29, 2010:
Unfortunate for the Angels.
Unfortunate for the Rangers.