When is Yu Darvish going to sign? What are the Rangers waiting for?
-- Scott M., Fort Worth, Texas
It seems obvious -- reading all the signs -- that Darvish wants to return to the Rangers. The problem is the Rangers keep saying that it is "unlikely" that they'll be active at the top of the free-agent pitching market. Certainly the term "unlikely" leaves wiggle room, and the tedious dance continues with Rangers fans left tantalized by the wait.
Despite all other factors being tossed about, Darvish could be the one keeping the free-agent market from moving. He is the top starting pitcher on the market, and those guys usually sign in November. If Darvish were to sign, it could break the inertia. But he may be waiting to see if the Rangers blink first.
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I read that the new ballpark will have turf instead of grass. Is this true? If so, how will this affect the recruiting effort of Adrian Beltre-caliber players?
-- Brandon H., Ada, Okla.
That decision has not been made. The preference is for grass, but necessity may force another decision.
Triple-A Round Rock's contract is coming up in 2018, and the Nolan Ryan family is a big part of the ownership group and they have a strong affiliation with Houston. Will we most likely see Round Rock move to the Astros' organization? And if so, with the upgrades to Frisco and its distance from Arlington, would it be in line for being the Triple-A team?
-- Theron D., Lampasas, Texas
That decision can't be announced until September, but it is a foregone conclusion that Round Rock will go back to the Astros. They are currently affiliated with the Fresno Grizzlies, so you can draw your own conclusions.
Minor League franchises are owned and set, and they cannot arbitrarily move from Double-A to Triple-A without a corresponding move. Round Rock made the move in 2005 because the Ryan-Sanders group bought Triple-A Edmonton, moved it to Corpus Christi and made it a Double-A franchise to replace Round Rock in the Texas League. That opened a Triple-A spot in the Pacific Coast League for Round Rock. There are a lot of moving parts to be considered when lining up Minor League affiliations.
With all the talk about the Rangers' farm system being "depleted," are there any pitchers penciled in to be called up in 2018 who could actually make a tangible impact whether it be in the bullpen or as a starter?
-- David M., Grand Forks, N.D.
Texas' farm system is far from depleted, it is just thinner than usual at the top end. That could change this year as Yohander Mendez, Ariel Jurado, Nick Gardewine and Connor Sadzeck are among the young arms expected to be at Triple-A Round Rock. There are a number of other young pitchers in the system who could emerge this season, a list that includes right-handers Hans Crouse, Kyle Cody, A.J. Alexy, Michael Matuella and Jonathan Hernandez, and left-handers Brett Martin, Joe Palumbo and Cole Ragans, among many others.
With Beltre being close to the end of his career and making it known he wants compete for World Series title, do you think he would request a trade at the Deadline to go to a contender?
-- Matt G., Rusk, Texas
Beltre and the Rangers go into the season with the intention of contending for the postseason. If Texas falls out of contention early, all bets are off.
I'm content with our rotation and we can always upgrade at Trade Deadline if we're in position to win. Wouldn't money be better spent adding a consistent right-handed bat or a premier closer or both?
-- Jesse O., Fort Worth
Veteran closer Greg Holland would be a really nice boost for the Rangers right about now.
What do you think of Jacoby Ellsbury? He still has three years on his contract and the Yankees said they would pay at least half of that. He's a decent player in my opinion and is a veteran center fielder. Would a trade be worth it?
-- Ruben C., El Paso
No way. Delino DeShields is nine years younger, far more affordable and is a right-handed hitter. DeShields and Ellsbury had similar offensive numbers last year. DeShields had slightly better metrics on defense, and overall his career is on the rise, not on the downside. DeShields needs to be Texas' center fielder.