I want to start off by first saying that I believe in Mitch Moreland and the Rangers should give him every chance to lock-up the starting spot for a long time coming. Before last season a concensus of Baseball Amercia writers were asked who the Rangers first baseman would be in 2014, this is when it was Chris Davis and Justin Smoak competing for the position. The concensus had Mitch Moreland over those two, so no reason not to beileve in the guy.
However, with all that said...
Let’s assume for a minute that Moreland takes some major steps back this season at 1B and by the All-Star break is batting .240 with little to no power and too many strikeouts, and even struggling with the glove. And Chris Davis has been promoted at least once, and again displays great defense, but no power and ability to hit anything other than a fastball. Here are a few ways Texas can go:
1) Michael Young (Internal) – this will all depend upon what we see from him at first base during Spring Training. If he can make a smooth transition as he has from 2B to SS and SS to 3B, then Mr. Ranger would be a very positive option. It would again put the Face of the Franchise back in the field on a regular basis. Other benefits are that we would not be subjected to having to witness Davis back in the Majors to "swing-n-miss" a whole lot. Also, this move would not cost the team another dime at all, not saying we are payroll strapped, but saving money is saving money. Finally the team would then go to a "DH by committee", which could inadvertently allow Hamilton and Cruz to spend more time DHing and likely staying healthier.
2) Albert Pujols (Free Agency) – stop laughing at me, because I know that was your initial reaction. Here’s the thing about him, I don’t see St. Louis pulling off the extension during the season, meaning Pujols and his agent are going to make the 2011 offseason what Cliff Lee and his agent were to 2010. True, if the Cards fall apart this season and are out of it by late July and don’t think they can afford him in free agency, they could trade him. However, that would likely be Public Relations Suicide for the front office, so not going to happen. It has already been rumored that Pujols is going to command approx. $25-28MM, even possibly $30MM a season. Can the Rangers afford him? Very likely. Will it cost us re-signing some other bats? Yes, definitely. But how can you pass up the most dangerous hitter in baseball? You can't. Possible - yes…going to happen - no, I seriously don’t think Texas signs Pujols.
3) Prince Fielder (Trade / Free Agency) – Milwaukee just got Zach Greinke so this trade possibility for now is sitting right around 0%. But come late July, if the Brewers new found pitching rotation can’t get the job done in the NL Central and they deem the playoffs aren’t going to happen this season, that trade probability jumps to right around 90%, if not 100%. The Brewers know they can’t afford to keep Fielder, their offense is being built around Ryan Braun, not Fielder, and they are going to have to pay a lot to keep Greinke, plus Fielder wants out. If he goes to free agency, and even if traded Fielder probably will test the market to maximize his dollar, then look for him to wait until he sees what Pujols gets to make his decision. Signing Fielder is likely to cost between $22-25MM a season depending upon what Pujols gets. So signing him would be considered a consolation prize to Pujols…40+ HRs (maybe more at our Ballpark) and 120+ RBI, I’ll take that consolation prize.
4) Billy Butler (Trade) – the Royals have already gotten a handful of prospects for Greinke and if they determine it is time to sell off all veteran presence and start a 5-year plan over, then Butler’s stock might never be higher. He is a potential .320 hitter, 25-30 HRs, 100 RBI every year type first baseman that in the right hands would become a franchise staple. Personally, I’m very high on this young man and he would be an immediate upgrade short and long term for Texas via trade. Going to cost an arm and a leg, but if signed to a long term extension we would not need to worry about any infield position for the next five years. Trade package would likely start with Tanner Scheppers or Martin Perez, Engel Beltre or Mitch Moreland, and Robbie Ross or Miguel de los Santos.
5) Yonder Alonso (Trade) – hear me out on this one. Three years ago we made a similar trade with the Reds, they had a surplus of outfielders and needed pitching. We needed another outfield bat and had a pitching prospect we were growing tired of, so Texas got Josh Hamilton and the Reds got Edinson Volquez. Right now the Reds have the defending NL MVP Joey Votto playing 1B and they have one of the top 1B prospects in all of baseball in Yonder Alonso. More than likely they will be trading one of them, and soon. If Cincy traded Votto, to anyone, it would likely be Public Relations Suicide, trade away a young, franchise, MVP first baseman…no way they do that. My guess is that they will work out an extension for Votto. So why not take a shot at Alonso right now, he won’t be MLB ready till 2012, but is going to be the next Votto or Fielder, if not Pujols, if he can reach his full potential. So here is my idea, call up CIncy and say Yonder Alonso for Tanner Scheppers, straight up, right now…who walks away from that table.
Just some thoughts…