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Inbox: Sorting through free-agent, trade possibilities

Will the Rangers tender catcher Geovany Soto or will they let him become a free agent to avoid an arbitration hearing?
-- Paul F., Fort Worth

Look for the Rangers to try and work out a new contract with Soto before Friday's non-tender deadline. The Rangers aren't eager to go to arbitration with Soto, but at this point they can't afford to drop a catcher unless they strongly believe they have a real shot at free agents A.J. Pierzynski, Russell Martin or Mike Napoli. Giving up Soto for nothing would also seem ill-advised, especially after the mystifying decision to re-work the trade with the Cubs and giving away pitcher Barret Loux.

It seems that Josh Hamilton is not getting as much interest as everybody expected. Is his price going to come down to a point where he could end up back in Texas?
-- Barbara M., Oklahoma City

Right now there is a whole lot of posturing going on in regards to Hamilton. There are many teams interested, but right now people are suggesting that Hamilton's asking price is too high for their budgets. That will change as the offseason evolves and clubs start reacting to moves made by their competitors. Remember, Prince Fielder didn't sign until Jan. 25 last winter, and he still got a nine-year, $214 million deal from the Tigers. It still seems likely that somebody is going to make a serious play for Hamilton.

Do you think there is a possibility that Texas makes a deal for Giancarlo Stanton? Obviously he is displeased in Miami. I don't know that he could play center field, but he would replace a lot of the offense Hamilton takes with him.
-- Bret B., Oklahoma City

If the Marlins are willing to trade Stanton, the Rangers should muscle their way to the front of the line and bring Jurickson Profar with them, or any other prospects they need to seal the deal. Stanton would be a huge acquisition -- as big as Hamilton was five years ago -- but the Marlins aren't likely to trade him. Stanton is 23 and four years away from being a free agent. Additionally, the Marlins are under too much scrutiny after their controversial trade with the Tigers. But if they do trade him, the Rangers will want him.

If the Rangers do not re-sign Napoli, do you think that reacquiring Jarrod Saltalamacchia would be a good idea?
-- Robert L., Fort Worth

No. The Red Sox have catching to trade and will have more if they sign Napoli. There are also those within the Rangers organization who like Saltalamacchia. But his time with the Rangers didn't end well a few years ago, and re-acquiring him would probably aggravate raw wounds on both sides, even though he has improved considerably since his departure.

I fail to understand why the Rangers would refuse to trade Elvis Andrus for Justin Upton. He is a free agent in two years, the club has obvious shortstop depth, and although Andrus is a premier infielder, his offensive skills are mediocre, an area in which Upton could provide a substantial lift. Any insight?
-- Alex M., Carrollton, Texas

The Rangers are interested in at least two free-agent outfielders, Nick Swisher and B.J. Upton. If they could sign one of those two, they wouldn't have to give up Andrus for anybody. If the Rangers are left out once the top free-agent outfielders have signed, they may have to re-visit their discussions with the D-backs. But if a team is in a "win-now" mode, trading a proven frontline shortstop is risky. It's also harsh to describe Andrus' offense as "mediocre."

Whatever happened to Omar Beltre? After his back problem I never heard about him.
-- Aaron G., Arlington

According to Rangers officials, Beltre is not playing anywhere. He was never able to overcome his back problem that derailed a once-promising career.

What is the real impact if a player like Hamilton were to buck the Players Association and stay in Arlington for less money, just because this is where he wanted to play?
-- Keith G., Hamilton, Texas

It's doubtful that the union would complain. No. 1, they understand that Hamilton is a unique case. No. 2, part of the right to be a free agent is the right for a player to decide where he wants to play. Players in the past have taken less money because location was more important to them. Certainly that can be disconcerting to the union, but doubt it would be an impediment in the unlikely event that's what Hamilton really wants to do.

One name I haven't heard for the outfield is Michael Bourn. Unlike most of the players out there, he plays center field, which is something the Rangers need. Have they made any attempts at all in signing him?
-- Zach F., Amber, Okla.

Rangers officials have indicated privately they don't expect to get involved in Bourn. That could change, but Bourn is a top-of-the-order player and the Rangers prefer somebody who can hit in the middle of the order.

Why don't the Rangers just go out on a limb and get Pierzynski? I know he's 35 and will cost roughly $6-8 million, but a two-year deal would save the hassle now of any trades.
-- William E., Longview, Texas

A two-year deal for Pierzynski would hardly be going out on a limb. The Rangers would definitely do a two-year deal for Pierzynski if the price is right, but right now it's likely that the asking price involves a 3-4 year deal. He is 35 and coming off one of the best years of his career. But he has been the starting catcher on some really good teams, including one that won the World Series in 2005.

What is the level of interest the Rangers have with Nick Swisher? I believe Swisher would be a great fit in the Rangers locker room.
-- Gene K., Dallas

Zack Greinke is the Rangers No. 1 free-agent target. They also need to save some money to address the catching situation. But Swisher interests them because he is a switch-hitter who can play both first base and a corner-outfield spot. He is also consistently good for 20-30 home runs and 80-90 RBIs per season.

My family and I would like to know why you do not consider Craig Gentry a good candidate for center field. We think that if he was given a chance, he would do very well. What does Leonys Martin have that Gentry does not?
-- Angela B., Arlington

The Rangers are an organization that places a high value on physical tools above all else and they view Martin as having a higher upside, especially offensively. Gentry has the speed and defensive ability, but the Rangers seem to have concerns about his ability to hit well enough to merit playing every day, especially against right-handers. But if a team can win a World Series with Angel Pagan in center field, certainly somebody could use Gentry as their everyday center fielder.

I know this is far-fetched, but would the Rangers consider turning Profar into a center fielder? He has good speed and power.
-- Marcus G., LaFeria, Texas

As a general rule, it is easier for young outfielders to be converted to infielders than the other way around. There are exceptions to all rules but the Rangers certainly haven't forgotten their ill-fated attempt to use Joaquin Arias in the outfield because there was no room in the infield. He ended up hurting his shoulder, and that proved to be a huge setback to his career.

I've read that the Rangers are considering moving Ian Kinsler to the outfield and have Profar at second base next season. Since Profar has been a shortstop in the Minor Leagues, is there any reason to believe the Rangers might be best served by having Profar at shortstop and Andrus at second base?
-- Aaron R., Dallas

Shortstop is more important defensively than second base, so it would seem logical, under that scenario, that Andrus remain at shortstop.

Who would you like to see on this Rangers' ballclub this spring?
-- Ernest F., San Antonio

Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson and Josh Gibson would make for a very entertaining spring.

Texas Rangers, Elvis Andrus, Omar Beltre, Craig Gentry, Zack Greinke, Leonys Martin, Mike Napoli, A.J. Pierzynski, Jurickson Profar, Geovany Soto