By: Josh Clark
DALLAS (105.3 The Fan) – The Rangers head into the off-season with not many holes to fill. Texas will need a starting pitcher, which could be Colby Lewis or Yovani Gallardo, but what they need the most is a right-handed bat to help balance out their lineup. Where is that bat going to fit into the order? That’s for Jon Daniels and his staff to figure out.
Here are some of the offensive names you could see the Rangers targeting this winter:
1. Jonathan Lucroy (MIL/C) – Jonathan Lucroy could be the Rangers number one target this off-season. The problem is that Lucroy is still under contract with the Milwaukee Brewers. Lucroy’s contract carries him through 2016, although the Brewers have a club option for 2017. The catcher spent most of last season on the disabled list, however, the year prior he led the National League in doubles with 53. He has a career .282 batting average and would be a nice addition to the 5th or 6th spot in the Rangers order next season.
The Brewers named 30 year-old David Stearns as their new General Manager in September. Stearns is the youngest GM in baseball and could be looking to make his imprint on the organization. The team did trade outfielders Gerardo Parra and Carlos Gomez and also dealt Mike Fiers and Jonathan Broxton, but those trades were made in July by Doug Melvin. It’ll be interesting to see what Milwaukee does with Lucroy since they seemed to fill a lot of holes already with those moves. But if the 29 year-old catcher is made available, which it seems he is, The Rangers will surely be one of the suitors.
2. Byung Ho Park (Nexen Heroes/1B) – The 29-year old first-baseman was posted by the Nexen Heroes of the Korean Baseball Organization on Monday. Teams have until Friday to make a bid on Park. The team with the highest bid gets 30 days of exclusive negotiating rights with with him. Jon Daniels did mention they could look to “swap out some left-handedness for right-handers” in his interview with Ben Rogers and Skin Wade on 105.3 The Fan. The move would make sense here, seeing that Moreland is a left-handed hitter and Park is a righty.
The Rangers will also be interested in bringing back Mike Napoli, although, I don’t see Napoli back as a platoon with Moreland at first base. Park had back-to-back seasons with at least 50 home runs. He hit a career-high 53 in 2015, while batting .343. He was also a two-time MVP of the KBO.
3. Justin Upton – (OF/SD) – The Rangers have always been enamored by Upton, they just haven’t ever sealed the deal for him. They were interested in trading for him when he was traded from Arizona to Atlanta, and they were interested in acquiring him when he was traded from Atlanta to San Diego. Upton is finally a free agent and can be the middle of the order right-handed bat the Rangers need. The move would allow Beltre to move back in the lineup to take some of the pressure off of his aging shoulders. The cost will be very steep, though. Jon Daniels said he expects the payroll to be near where it was last year, so Upton or Yoenis Cespedes may not be in the cards.
4. Austin Jackson (CHI/OF) – Jackson fills two needs, he’s a center-fielder and is right-handed. Getting Jackson would allow the Rangers to move Delino DeShields to left-field, although, rising star Lewison Brinson could push the club to consider calling him up early into next season. It’s a tough choice for the front office. For what it’s worth, Daniels said, “If we do our jobs well and we stay healthy, I’m hoping none of those guys can make the roster on day one,” regarding Brinson, Nomar Mazara, Jurickson Profar and Joey Gallo.
5. Yasiel Puig (LAD/OF) – Puig will bring baggage along for the ride wherever he ends up. Put him in the Rangers clubhouse and he’ll have a good chance to settle in. His potential is there, he just gets injured a little too much. The Dodgers may look to finally deal him this off-season. With Zach Greinke opting out of his contract, L.A. would be looking for starting pitching that could help them immediately. Would the Rangers part with Martin Perez or Derek Holland in addition to some prospects for him? Would the Dodgers take that? We’ll see if they match-up in the off-season.
It will be a very interesting and exciting off-season for the Rangers, as they appear to be back in contention for a World Series after a brief bump in the road in 2014.
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