Did the Rangers take the wrong approach in their negotiations with Josh Hamilton?
-- Karl H., Oklahoma City
Forget all the he-said, she-said posturing. Hamilton said he was going to give the Rangers first shot at signing him? That was not his decision. The rules of free agency dictate that.
The Rangers had a one-month exclusive negotiating period with Hamilton once the season was over. Basically, they had all of October to launch a preemptive strike to sign Hamilton but did not choose to put on the full-court "press" that he alluded to in his news conference on Saturday.
The Rangers declined. Why? Well, they could have offered Hamilton a blank contract and asked him to fill it in himself. That really didn't appeal to them. They could have made a legitimate offer, but they had already made offers to Hamilton in Spring Training and those were rejected.
So what now? Keep making higher offers until he says yes? Or let him go into free agency, see what his value is and then try to compete for him in the free market that players so deeply cherish. They chose that route, and remember that nobody really knew what Hamilton's market would be, given all the factors involved: past performance, talent, age, injury history, personal issues. ... So many things to consider.
During the Winter Meetings, Hamilton's market was still a complete mystery. Remember two weeks ago? Teams were supposedly shying away from Hamilton. All of the teams that were supposed to be interested kept saying they couldn't afford him. The word was he wasn't going to get more than three years. That's all the Red Sox and the Phillies were willing to do.
At the Winter Meetings, the Rangers told Hamilton's agent, Mike Moye, they would be willing to go four years. At the time, that appeared to be the best Hamilton was going to do. Nobody else was willing to guarantee more than that.
But, during this whole process, Rangers Inbox readers were reminded there was always the possibility of one team coming out of nowhere, being smitten by Hamilton's talent and being stung by rejections from other free-agent targets. There was always a possibility of a team not being afraid of Hamilton's past and being completely confident in handling any issues involved. There was always a possibility of one team getting really aggressive toward Hamilton before it was all over.
The Angels were that team, and last week, they handed Hamilton a five-year, $125 million contract to sign. Moye could have gone back to the Rangers, but why? He had done his job. After what had to be an uncertain winter at times, he had procured a lucrative contract for his client in a city that is an easy sell for any family. Why go back and bargain with the Rangers when there was a possibility the Angels would not keep the offer out there too long?
In the final analysis, the Rangers had two choices with Hamilton -- bid against themselves at the beginning or bid against somebody else in the end. The first choice was not appealing. The second choice ended up not being there like they expected. For Moye, it was already "mission: accomplished," and the Rangers were no longer needed.
Is there any free agent out there who makes sense for the Rangers?
-- Ralph M., Fort Worth, Texas
Nick Swisher. He is a switch-hitter who can play first base, one of the corner-outfield spots or designated hitter. He makes a lot more sense than some of the other names being tossed about, including Michael Bourn or Adam LaRoche. The Rangers place a premium on versatility, and Swisher does seem to offer that. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Rangers make a run at him. They have talked about him internally.
I am terribly upset Michael Young is gone. Question is, the talk of moving Ian Kinsler to first base -- what is going to happen with Mitch Moreland? Sure don't want to lose him, too!
-- Claudene C., Big Spring, Texas
As of right now, Moreland is in line to platoon at DH with Mike Olt while getting some at-bats as a reserve first baseman and maybe in the outfield. He may fill a role similar to what David Murphy did the past couple of years before he won the left-field job.
Any chance of seeing Brian Wilson in a Rangers uniform next season? With the Giants non-tendering him, Texas could pick him up on a one-year deal and maybe get a good payoff, similar to Joe Nathan. He seems like he would fit in well in the Rangers' clubhouse.
-- Murphy K., Dallas
The problem there is, like Joakim Soria, you have another pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery who may not be ready for Opening Day. The Rangers are already taking a risk with Soria and may need more of a sure thing with the next reliever they sign. They probably need somebody who will be ready for Opening Day without a doubt.
At the very end of this past season, Texas fans saw hard-throwing right-hander Wilmer Font pitch a few innings out of the bullpen. I know that Font missed the entire 2011 season due to injury, but before that, he was a starter in the Minor Leagues. Do you think the Rangers will again try him as a starting pitcher?
-- Aaron R., Dallas
Font, who had Tommy John surgery in 2011, is not a candidate for the rotation, but he is somebody to watch for the bullpen. He had big strikeout numbers in the Minors, but with a corresponding high number of walks. The Rangers have a number of similar pitchers in the Minors, guys with big arms who have been around. As they did with Alexi Ogando a few years ago, it's time to hit on one again.
I sure hate to see Mike Napoli leave the Rangers, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia is out there and could make a nice replacement for the future. But I would like to see A.J. Pierzynski come to Texas. I think he could add a lot of leadership and power to the lineup. How do you see it?
-- Vergil R., Weatherford, Texas
Pierzynski is a left-handed hitter who would make a nice partner with Geovany Soto. He'll turn 36 at the end of the month, which is quite advanced for a catcher. He currently ranks 20th all time in games caught, but a two-year deal might form a solid bridge until some of the Rangers' top Minor League catchers like Jorge Alfaro are ready.
With Young now gone, and an apparent need for a utility player existing, any chance the Rangers make a run for a one-year offer to Mark DeRosa?
-- Spencer S., Salt Lake City, Utah
DeRosa is 37, he has had significant physical issues over the past three years and he doesn't play shortstop. Remember the Rangers require their utility infielder to be able to play shortstop.
With Zack Greinke off the market, will the Rangers entertain trading for Cliff Lee? Would he not seem the better option over R.A. Dickey in exchange for Olt?
-- Alex M. Carrollton, Texas
The Phillies are trying to win the World Series. They are not going to trade one of their top pitchers for prospects.