Inbox: Should Rangers re-sign reliable Nathan?
MLB.com beat reporter T.R. Sullivan answers Texas fans' questions
I know we have options for the closer next year, but why wouldn't the Rangers want to keep Joe Nathan locked up for the next few years? He is the most reliable closer in the league.
-- Brad S. Burleson, Texas
Nathan's reliability is second to none, but he is looking for a multiyear deal and the Rangers are philosophically opposed to signing closers to big contracts. That appears to be a trend in baseball, as clubs are finding creative ways to fill the closer's role. The Tigers and the Red Sox went to the American League Championship Series with two former Rangers setup relievers as their closers. Few people really thought Joaquin Benoit and Koji Uehara could handle that role. That said, there is no question about Nathan handling the role, even if he does turn 39 in November.
The Rangers seemed to be so high on Neftali Feliz being a starter in 2012 until he got injured. Now that he's recovered, it seems like they're not interested at all in him starting. Why not? I thought he looked good in '12.
-- Brandon S., Texarkana, Texas
The Rangers can't keep bouncing Feliz and Alexi Ogando between roles. The Rangers were at their most successful when Feliz was working out of the bullpen, and that's where they need him most right now, especially if Nathan is not coming back. The Rangers have five quality starters if you include Ogando, and he has shown he belongs in the rotation. Feliz serves the Rangers best as a reliever, even if either Joakim Soria or Tanner Scheppers ends up as the closer.
If you had to name three big free agents the Rangers will get, who would they be? I know the Rangers love Brian McCann.
-- Ethan M., Rockwall, Texas
McCann would certainly be on that list and so would Nelson Cruz. They would need one more bat, either at designated hitter or in left field. Kendrys Morales would be a candidate at designated hitter, although the Mariners want to bring him back.
At points during the season it seemed like the Rangers were way too heavy with right-handed batters at the top of their lineup. What are the chances of the Rangers signing or trading for a big left-handed bat?
-- Jacob P., Hebron, Texas
The Rangers really could use a left-handed bat in the No. 3 hole. The free-agent list is loaded with left-handed hitting outfielders who could be attractive: Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Curtis Granderson, Shin-Soo Choo and Raul Ibanez. The most interesting one is Beltran. He will be 37 in April, but he is a switch-hitting outfielder with a reputation for being a great teammate. If Beltran can be signed to a two-year or three-year deal, the Rangers might jump on that.
Would the Rangers consider making a run at Granderson? Coming off an injury-filled season he might come a little cheaper than in years past, and he would be a great fit in left field and in the middle of the lineup. Plus, he's a great locker room guy from what I hear.
-- Brad M., Abilene, Texas
The Rangers will consider everybody and much depends on contract demands. You could look at all these outfielders and rank them, but would you rather have Beltran on a three-contract deal or Ellsbury on a seven-year deal? Length of contract can be much more important than average annual salary. Granderson has fallen into a low-average high-strikeout hitter, but if he's healthy, he can provide middle-of-the-order power. Beltran still seems the most desirable outfielder on the market.
What are your thoughts on sending Ian Kinsler to the Dodgers for outfielder Matt Kemp?
-- Andy A., Arlington
The Dodgers aren't going to do that. If they are interested in moving one of their high-priced outfielders, it would be either Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford. The Rangers shouldn't be interested in Crawford, but Kinsler for Ethier is interesting to think about. They are the same age, have almost the same amount of service time and both have four years and an option left on their contracts. Their offensive numbers are similar in many respects, although Kinsler's speed advantage is obvious.
What do you think about a trade of Matt Adams of the Cardinals for Jurickson Profar? Adams seems blocked by Allen Craig at first base and by Oscar Tavares, Jon Jay and Matt Holliday in the outfield. He would provide Texas with power and Profar would provide the Cards with a shortstop that they seem to be constantly searching for.
-- Will T., Fouke, Ark.
No way. Adams may not be much of an upgrade over Mitch Moreland. If the Rangers trade Profar, they need to get a clear-cut impact player in return.
Wondering why Ryan Rua was selected for the Arizona Fall League and promoted to Double-A and Joey Gallo was not. Both appear to be potential power hitters, and Gallo is ranked our fifth- highest prospect and Rua is not in the top 20.
-- Chuck B., Richardson, Texas
Rua is 23 and Gallo is 19. Rua -- like Kinsler and Moreland -- was a 17th-round pick who has been a big surprise coming through the system. The Arizona Fall League is a good place to see how he handles advanced competition and if he is the real deal after his 32-homer season in the Minors.
If it was a fair foregone conclusion that David Murphy would not be back next season, why wasn't he traded at the Deadline so that at least the Rangers had something to show for the loss?
-- Keith G., Hamilton, Texas
Think back. As July 31 approached, the Rangers were looking for offensive help in the outfield and not looking to trade it away. They also knew that Murphy had a tendency to finish strong, so there was still hope he would snap out of his slump. It's doubtful they would have received a top prospect in return if they did trade him.
Why was the injury to Yu Darvish concealed from everyone at the end of the year? Everyone was bashing Darvish for the all the walks and wanted to blame Ron Washington for letting him go all the extra innings in the first half of the year.
-- Jimmy S., Port Orchard, Wash.
This is not the NFL, where clubs are required to disclose injuries. Most clubs, including the Rangers, don't like talking about injuries unless their hand is forced. So, there are occasions when a manager will make a questionable move and be criticized for it when there are unknown extenuating circumstances that forced the move.
Past history suggests that the Rangers have traded away players right before they start to flourish, as in the case of Chris Davis. Knowing that related to Moreland's history, are the Rangers more likely to wait while he develops?
-- Chris B., Port Charlotte, Fla.
Prior to this past season, when he hit 53 home runs, Davis had played in 436 games for the Rangers and Orioles. In those 436 games, he had a .258 batting average, a .310 on-base percentage and a .466 slugging percentage. Moreland, including 2013, has played in 442 games with a .253 batting average, a .318 on-base percentage and a .440 slugging percentage. Moreland is six months older than Davis.
Not sure what this means, but Moreland has gone on the disabled list in the middle of the season in each of the past two years. His combined numbers before the injuries included a .273 batting average and a .525 slugging percentage. After the injuries, he hit .210 with a .366 slugging percentage.
If the Rangers don't re-sign Matt Garza, might they look in-house for starting pitching? Would they give Scheppers, Robbie Ross and/or Feliz a chance to compete for a starting job in 2014?
-- Aaron R., Dallas
Scheppers and Feliz are closer candidates. Ross was given a chance to start last spring, but the Rangers decided he would be more valuable in the bullpen. They'll probably give him a similar chance again next year, but it's still likely he'll end up in the bullpen unless there is a run of injuries.
Are there any rules regarding a player's participation in winter ball? It does not seem as many players play winter ball today as in the past.
-- Gerald K., Houston
Winter ball is mainly to help young players to speed up their development in a highly-competitive environment, and the Rangers have a number of them down there. Many years ago, veteran players went to the Caribbean to earn extra money. Obviously they don't need to do that anymore.
What is Colby Lewis' status for next season?
-- Darrin K., Red Oak, Texas
He is a free agent and unsigned. The Rangers may sign him to a Minor League contract and bring him to Spring Training, but he is not retiring. He'll be in camp with somebody next season.
I read that another young Japanese pitcher was planning on coming to the U.S.through the posting system and that he was the next Darvish. Do you think the Rangers would be interested in bidding for him? I think if he is like Darvish, he would be well worth it.
-- Mary W., McKinney, Texas
The Rangers have done their homework and scouting on Masahiro Tanaka. They may put in a posting bid, but they don't have the same high opinion of him as they did with Darvish.
Could you please give a shot out to "westmojo," a long-time MLB.Com reader and Rangers fan? She is undergoing chemotherapy treatment. We miss her on the daily Ranger message boards.
-- Tommy H., Glen Rose, Texas
Indeed. Consider it done.
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.