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With Cliff Lee gone, what’s next for the Rangers?

Dec 14, 2010, 1:42 AM EDT


First, a little perspective about what the Rangers actually offered Cliff Lee. Though they wouldn’t guarantee a seventh year, they were reportedly willing to offer $23 million per season over six years with a vesting option for a seventh year that would have brought the value of the entire deal to $161 million. It wasn’t more guaranteed money than what the Yankees offered, but no matter the final tally, the Rangers clearly wanted this guy. They didn’t get him.

With that out of the way, it was refreshing to hear that even after lengthy and ultimately unsuccessful negotiations, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels gave Lee credit for not chasing the most money possible (via Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram):

“Let’s give the guy some credit. How many people criticize players for running after the last dollar?” general manager Jon Daniels said. “Cliff didn’t do that. He made a decision for other reasons, and I have to respect that.”
This is still a tough blow for an organization who clearly wanted to retain him, but I have a feeling this could end up being a blessing in disguise for the Rangers in the long run. Still, where do they go from here?
  • They could explore the trade market for a starting pitcher. We already know that Matt Garza and Zack Greinke are available. The problem? They will cost premium prospects in return. While the Rangers’ farm system has produced excellent talent in recent seasons, they aren’t anywhere near as deep as they have been in the past. It won’t be a slam dunk to outbid teams for either pitcher.
  • Also known as the elephant in the room, the Rangers could move Neftali Feliz into the starting rotation. Feliz set a rookie record with 40 saves this past season and posted a sparkling 2.73 ERA and 71/18 K/BB ratio over 69 1/3 innings. He has a chance to be much more valuable as a starting pitcher in the long run, but will the Rangers be willing to move him next season? The bullpen might not skip a beat if Alexi Ogando or Frank Francisco is moved into the closer role. The Rangers could even consider signing Rafael Soriano.
  • Sign Adrian Beltre. Why? Because he’s the best player available, that’s why. Yes, he is represented by Scott Boras, so it’s not like they’ll get him for cheap, but Beltre is coming off an MVP-type season where he batted .321/.365/.553 with 28 home runs and 102 RBI. He’s also one of the best fielding third baseman in the game and an obvious improvement over Michael Young at the hot corner. If the past is any indication, Young probably won’t be very happy with having to move positions again, possibly to first base/DH duty this time, but the Rangers could continue to explore a trade in the months leading up to spring training.
There’s no easy answer here, but please don’t count the Rangers out for 2011 already. It’s not like the Angels have gotten any better this offseason, aside from adding a pair of left-handers to their bullpen. And plus, while Lee didn’t stay with the Rangers, he didn’t go to the Yankees, either, which has to be worth something. Right?
  1. iamthedoublestandard - Dec 14, 2010 at 2:17 AM

    Yeah Jon Daniels, let’s give Lee credit for recognizing that he couldn’t win it all on your ballclub. What an insult. He was willing to take less for a team that has won in recent memory than for one where he was just at the WS. You want to give credit even though you were slapped in the face? Here’s a guy that by shunning extra money and a close ride home basically doesn’t think he can win Texas. Why else take less money? ‘Thanks Cliff for thinking that we’re not good enough.’ That should have been the quote.

    • gt929 - Dec 14, 2010 at 4:11 AM

      I just don’t see it as “couldn’t win it all with Texas.” More like, “my chances are just as good or better with Philly, and if I happen to falter at times, I won’t crash the whole team.” In regards to the Yankees, it’s like, “if I happen to falter at times, the whole of Yankees Universe won’t be screaming for my head.”

      • iamthedoublestandard - Dec 14, 2010 at 4:19 AM

        Yeah… I don’t buy that.

    • angrycorgi - Dec 14, 2010 at 9:02 AM

      That’s a stupid assumption. You’re just pissy because the NY sources are coming out talking like weak children that got all their toys taken away and Texas knows how to deal with it. Unfortunately, in New York class is like nuclear weapons…everybody brags about having some, but nobody’s seen any actually used there in 60+ years.

  2. Jeremiah Graves - Dec 14, 2010 at 2:37 PM

    Isn’t it possible that Cliff Lee just got himself hooked on Philly Cheesesteaks during his stint with the Phillies in ’09 and realized that as good as Texas BBQ may be, it’ll never match the artery clogging greasy wonder that is a cheesesteak?!


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