Offseason questions: Who plays first base?

Let's continue our look at seven offseason questions the Rangers face as the hot stove gets going.

Today's question: Who plays first base?

The Rangers have certainly shown a willingness, under this new ownership group, to spend money when necessary. When Cliff Lee decided to head to Philadelphia last season, the Rangers didn't simply put that money under the mattress. They spent it on third baseman Adrian Beltre, who won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger Award this week. He signed a five-year, $80 million deal with a vesting option for a sixth year at $16 million last January.

But the Beltre signing doesn't mean that every offseason the Rangers will be making at least one big splash in the free-agent pool. Pitching remains a priority and if the Rangers spend big bucks this winter, it would probably go to the mound first. But Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said he'll do whatever he can to make the club better, so expect Texas to at least check in on the first-base options, which include Prince Fielder and possibly Albert Pujols. And if the right deal is there, the Rangers would certainly bolster the lineup if they could land either player.

However, Daniels made it clear earlier this week that the priority is retaining the club's core group of players. Guys such as Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and others will be eligible for new contracts in the coming years and the team needs to do what it can to retain them.

Daniels hinted that first base might be a position filled internally. That means Mitch Moreland remains the leading candidate. And one thing that usually trickles out this time of year are injuries that players tried to keep hidden during the postseason (so pitchers wouldn't exploit them). In Moreland's case, that was right wrist soreness.

"He was dealing with it the whole second half," Daniels said. "He'll be re-evaluated this week. He was seen by a couple of people and they felt like extended rest would help. That can't happen in-season. We still have confidence in Mitch. There are still things he has to get better at, but I don't think the second half is a fair indication of what he can do."

Moreland, 26, batted .259 with 16 homers and 51 RBIs in 134 games in 2011. His average dipped in large part because of a rough September. Moreland hit .167 (8-for-48) and that slump carried over into the playoffs. He was 3-for-29 (.103) in nine postseason appearances in 2011.

When Moreland isn't at first, for example against tough lefties, Mike Napoli could play over there if he's not behind the plate and Michael Young can as well. Napoli and Young aren't as good defensively as Moreland at that position, though.

First base has not been a major offensive producer like it was back in the days of Mark Teixeira manning the position. The Rangers have tried several young players, but no one has managed to seize the position to the point where they've had a breakout year. If the Rangers don't want to spend the big bucks on one of the major free agents at that spot, don't be surprised if they fill internally and see what happens.

What would you do about first base? Would you pay for Fielder, for example, and risk losing members of the core in future years? Do you keep the status quo and just deal with it like the club did in 2011?