It's January and Scott Boras still has some clients that could draw interest from the Rangers with a little more than six weeks before pitchers and catchers arrive in Arizona for spring training.
A quick refresher: It was early January of 2011 that the Rangers signed Adrian Beltre to a five-year contract for $80 million with a vesting option worth $16 million for a sixth year. Beltre became a greater option once the team lost out on the Cliff Lee sweepstakes. Boras represented Beltre in that deal, proof that the club and the agent can do deals in January.
Much of what the Rangers can do for 2012 is contingent on what happens with the Yu Darvish negotiations. The two sides have until the afternoon of Jan. 18 to get a deal done. If they don't, Darvish heads back to Japan and the Rangers don't lose the nearly $52 million posting bid.
Should Darvish not sign, the Rangers could certainly jump squarely in the middle of the Prince Fielder sweepstakes. And if you're Boras, you might as well wait for that Jan. 18 date now to see if you could have a potentially lucrative suitor in the mix. We've discussed Fielder many times this offseason on the blog. He's a left-handed power bat that could fill a position of inconsistency at first base. The financial commitment could mean that the club would have to choose between Hamilton and Fielder in terms of long-term deals, but that's part of the difficult decisions that face any front office.
The difference now, as opposed to a few years ago, is that the Rangers have an ownership group willing to spend some money to be sure the club extends its competitive window for as long as possible. That's one reason why the Rangers seem to be attached to just about every major free agent that is available. The other one is that the front office's philosophy is to check into everything.
So when they get on the phone with Boras, it's not a stretch to assume they discuss Fielder, reliever Ryan Madson and, of course, left-hander Mike Gonzalez. The club has asked for medicals on Gonzalez and remain interested. They could certainly use a situational lefty in the bullpen.
Madson is intriguing, in that he would provide more depth in the bullpen. The club has talked about bolstering that area in the hopes that it would give manager Ron Washington more options late in games and give him some insurance so they can stay patient with what is a young starting corps. Madson has 52 saves in the big leagues and is 30 years old. Texas has already signed Joe Nathan with the intent that he's the closer. But that won't stop them from looking at every conceivable option. And as Rangers fans (and media) discovered last offseason, the Rangers will stockpile talent -- even if it appears the role is undefined -- and worry about how everything slots later. That's how Mike Napoli joined the Rangers in late January as a part-time first baseman and third catcher. We all know how that worked out much better than anyone expected.
Gonzalez enjoyed his time in Texas, had surgery on his left knee this offseason and wants to return to the Rangers. The club has a need for left-handed pitching and Gonzalez got some key outs late in games for the club in 2011. We'll see if a deal could be worked out there.
For now, Boras is waiting. And so are the Rangers. We'll see if the two get together in a late offseason move. BTW, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick has a great piece on the fact that Boras still has some major clients on the market.