Note: As part of our "Hot Stove Talk" series, which looks at issues, players and trades the Texas Rangers could consider this offseason, we'll also take a look at some positions on the club and assess whether general manager Jon Daniels and his staff should upgrade them at next week's Winter Meetings.
Today's position: Left field
Let's face it, with the trade of Ian Kinsler to Detroit for Prince Fielder, left field now becomes the club's biggest need to fill this offseason. Daniels and his staff acquired the power bat for the middle of the lineup that they desperately needed, but the GM made it clear last week that he's still seeking some offensive help.
David Murphy, who arrived at spring training as the every day left fielder last season, has departed for Cleveland. The Rangers have Craig Gentry, Leonys Martin and Alex Rios in the outfield and would like to add another bat to that group.
The good news: They've still got some choices. The bad news: It likely won't come very cheap. Expect to hear the Rangers' name tied to the remaining outfield free agents at next week's Winter Meetings. That list includes some big names, like Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury. As we've discussed on this blog this offseason, Choo makes sense in that he gets on base and hits well against right-handed pitching . ESPN.com's Sweet Spot blogger David Schoenfield has made the case that Texas needs Choo. The question becomes cost, of course. Choo could be looking at a six- or seven-year deal, maybe similar to Jayson Werth's $126 million over seven years that he got from the Nationals. And Choo would cost a draft pick, though the Rangers would get one back if Nelson Cruz signs elsewhere.
This is a club that doesn't enter into long-term commitments lightly and just traded for one in Fielder. I can't see the Rangers offering seven years for Choo, but let's see where the market goes.
Ellsbury is another name that should command bigger bucks and it might be at a premium because he can play center field. With Martin showing he can handle the position, the Rangers could decide to just focus in on those who play mainly corner outfield in hopes that the cost might not be as high.
Carlos Beltran continues to search for a new home and is garnering interest from a wide range of teams, according to reports. That's not surprising. To me, Beltran is very attractive because he gives this team another bat that they need and would be on a shorter-term deal.
What about Cruz? He's still out there, though could be seeking a four-year deal worth $75 million or so. Would you pay that? I'm leery going four years for Cruz and it has nothing to do with PEDs. He's been on the DL a lot and turns 34 next year. I'm concerned he might break down. But the advantage to Cruz is that he's a player the Rangers know and he's clearly comfortable here.
There's also Nate McLouth, who intrigues the Rangers. He could be another affordable option, though he doesn't have the power numbers of some other possibilities.
Those are the kinds of decisions -- and that's just the free-agent pool, perhaps there's a trade deal that could be made -- that the front office will be exploring next week in Orlando.
What would you do about left field?