Inbox: Will the Rangers re-sign Napoli?
Beat reporter T.R. Sullivan answers Rangers fans' questions
Do you see the Rangers re-signing Mike Napoli? If so, will it be a long-term or short-term contract?
-- Matt G., Rusk, Texas
There are always teams that need catchers, and this offseason the Yankees and the Pirates are prominent among them. So are the Astros, who need a part-time catcher who can also play first and be used at designated hitter. They seem to have a spot tailor-made for Napoli. But Napoli is likely seeking a multi-year deal worth $10-12 million annually, and the Rangers aren't particularly eager to do that. They would like Napoli back under their terms and it remains a possibility.
The one drawback for Napoli is fighting the perception that he can't be an everyday catcher worth his possible asking price. Some teams like the White Sox are not convinced he is capable of handling the full-time demands of the position.
What would it take to get a catcher from the Blue Jays and which one would the Rangers want: J.P. Arencibia or Travis d'Arnaud?
-- Craig P., Lawton, Okla.
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The Rangers would definitely prefer d'Arnaud. Arencibia, who turns 27 in January, has some power but hit .233 last season and also walked 18 times against 108 strikeouts in just 347 at-bats. The Blue Jays want starting pitching, but you don't give up Derek Holland or Alexi Ogando for that. d'Arnaud is considered a top prospect, kind of like Jurickson Profar. The Blue Jays need a second baseman, the question is if either team has the stomach to make a one-on-one exchange of top prospects.
Though highly touted and talented, Profar and Mike Olt have yet to play a game at Triple-A. So why is it assumed that they should be in the big leagues next year?
-- Pablo G., Irving, Texas
Good point. Don Baylor was the Minor League Player of the Year at Triple-A Rochester in 1970 when he hit .327 with 22 home runs and 107 RBIs. But the Orioles had no room at the big league level so he spent the entire '71 season at Rochester. Sandy Alomar Jr. was two-time Minor League Player of the Year with the Padres because he was stuck behind Benito Santiago. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Rangers deciding that they don't have room at the big league level and that their top two prospects must at least start the season at Triple-A Round Rock.
What is the possibility that Robbie Ross will be given a shot this spring at making the starting rotation?
-- Ed H., McKinney, Texas
There are some that thought Ross should have gone to the rotation this summer when the Rangers got hit hard by injuries. Now that Ogando is going into the rotation, the Rangers will likely want to keep Ross in the bullpen, especially since they need left-handed relief. But it is an option that the Rangers have considered and may again in the future.
Why is the relationship between Josh Hamilton and the Rangers' front office so fraught? The entire team had a bad October.
-- Jaime G., Universal City, Texas
There does appear to be some unfortunate displaced aggression. The Rangers did not achieve their stated goal and it seems necessary to point the finger somewhere rather than acknowledge the obvious tremendous contributions. Hamilton is a great player with some obvious flaws and the time he missed in September because of his vision issues certainly rankled some. But it really comes down to the obvious. Hamilton is looking for a huge deal reflective of his talents and the Rangers aren't certain they want to go there. Both sides have their own goals and there likely won't be a convergence of interests.
Would the Rangers consider looking at options like Joakim Soria for the bullpen? With the losses to the bullpen, Soria would be a great guy to have in front of Joe Nathan, assuming he returns to form after Tommy John surgery.
-- Brad M., Abilene, Texas
Soria could be a terrific setup reliever if he does come all the way back from Tommy John surgery. He has always been a closer and may prefer to find a team willing to give him that role. But if he is willing to be a setup reliever, perhaps for one year, the Rangers certainly have to include him on their list.
If the Rangers do let Hamilton go, what about going after Torii Hunter for center field? He lives in Dallas, has a strong bat and can play the outfield better than most.
-- Janet M., Kilgore, Texas
Hunter is 37 and hasn't played center field regularly in two years. The Rangers need a center fielder. That said, Hunter certainly could be intriguing. Even at 37 he might be better defensively than some in center, possibly in a rotation with David Murphy and Leonys Martin. Hunter hits right-handed, while those other two are left-handed hitters.
To what degree are B.J. Upton's credentials overemphasized by the weak market he is in? There is no lack of power or speed, but he appears far too raw for the price.
-- Alex M., Carrollton, Texas
Upton is one of those cursed players who is looked upon as somewhat of a disappointment because his numbers aren't as good as his considerable talents suggest they should be. He has both speed and power but hits around .245 with over 160 strikeouts per season. He's usually good for about 20-25 homers, 75-80 RBIs and 35-40 stolen bases while playing very good center field. He's not as good as Hamilton, but similar in many ways: very talented but also quite frustrating.
If/when Hamilton signs with another team, would it be feasible to convert Olt or Brandon Snyder into an outfielder?
-- Ken B., Arlington
The Rangers have considered the possibility of using Olt in the outfield. Snyder has also played out there. At best, though, they would be a corner outfielder, and the Rangers are set there. They need a center fielder.
Do you think it might be better for the Rangers to look within their farm system instead of signing high-priced free agents? The A's proved you don't need to "buy" a championship.
-- Mary S., Greenville, S.C.
The Athletics certainly have a good farm system, especially when it comes to pitching, and they made a couple of good trades this past offseason. But they also made some good acquisitions through free agency, especially signing Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year, $36 million contract. A good farm system is a must, but any team that wants to contend has to supplement it with smart trades and free-agent signings. The key word is supplement. You can't rely on free agency year after year.
Would it seem like a good idea to look at someone like left-hander Francisco Liriano as a low-risk, high-reward type guy?
-- John C., Fort Worth
Yes. Liriano, 29, struck out 9.59 batters per nine innings last season, third highest among all American League pitchers with at least 150 innings pitched. He also allowed 8.21 hits per nine innings, 10th lowest. So the stuff is there. The problem was his five walks per nine innings, the second highest in the AL. If he could figure out some control, he could be a pretty good fifth starter in the Rangers' current rotation.
What are the chances of the Rangers going after David Price of the Rays? Rumor has it he will be traded.
-- Julie G., Fort Worth
Last summer there were all sorts of rumors about the Rays trading James Shields and it never came to pass. Price is even better than Shields and the Rays are a team that's trying to win next year. They almost assuredly are going to try and do so with the best left-handed pitcher in the AL leading their rotation.
Is there any thought about bringing back Ryan Dempster or maybe adding Kyle Lohse for the 2013 season?
-- Neal O., Hugo, Minn.
The Rangers are not expected to re-sign Dempster. Look for him in the National League next year. That's also where Lohse, 34, needs to stay after two excellent years with the Cardinals. He had a 4.88 ERA in his six years with the Twins and is a relative fly-ball pitcher. He is a much better pitcher now than when he was with the Twins, but he is mainly a strike thrower with relatively average stuff that's not getting any younger.
I have read about a number of scenarios if the Rangers do not sign Hamilton. One that peaks my interest is a trade for the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez. Is this actually a real trade option?
-- Carson C., Odessa, Texas
Gonzalez had a huge season for the Rockies in 2010 and was immediately rewarded with a seven-year, $80 million contract. Over the past two seasons he is hitting .350 with a .603 slugging percentage at Coors Field and .243 with a .421 slugging percentage on the road. He won a Gold Glove Award this past season, but it was as a left fielder. The Rockies probably have more interest in trading him than the Rangers do in acquiring him.
When discussing the failures the Rangers had down the stretch, people seem to be ignoring the absence of Colby Lewis. Do you think things would have gone differently had Lewis played a full season?
-- Mitchell R., Austin, Texas
Let's see. The Rangers lost the last three games started by Martin Perez and seven of the last eight started by Scott Feldman. They finished one game back of the Athletics.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.