I was going to wait to post this, but I figured I'd go ahead and do it now...
To reiterate and edit from a post about a month ago on the salary situation for the team next year...
The following players are under contract for 2007:
Kevin Millwood -- $10.5 million
Mark Teixeira -- $9.4 million
Hank Blalock -- $4.75 million
Michael Young -- $3.5 million
That's $28.15 million. Add in the $7 million or so for ARod, and the team is at around $35.15 million.
The Rangers have two significant arbitration-eligible players...Brad Wilkerson and Akinori Otsuka. Assuming Evan Grant is right, and the Rangers and Wilkerson both want Wilkerson back next year, the Rangers are looking at about $4 million for Wilkerson and $3 million for Otsuka.
That gets the payroll to $42 million.
The starting catcher, second baseman, and DH are likely to be Laird, Kinsler and Botts, and those three, combined, are going to be at around $1.2 million.
You are going to have 6 more bullpen guys. My choices would be to go with Littleton, Francisco, Feldman, Benoit, Wilson, and Rheinecker. For those six, you are talking about probably $2.2-2.5 million, combined
That gets the payroll to a little under $45 million, with centerfield, a corner outfield slot, 4 rotation spots, and the bench to fill.
The Rangers don't seem likely to go out and spend big in the free agency market for the bench, and I think you are probably looking at some combination of Josh Rupe, Robinson Tejeda, Edinson Volquez, and John Koronka for the #4 and #5 slots...that would seem to bump the payroll to $48 million, tops, leaving a corner outfield slot, CF and the remainder of the rotation to fill out.
For a corner outfield slot, as I've said repeatedly, I'd like to see the Rangers go out and get Gary Sheffield from the Yanks, and exercise his $13 million option for 2007. That allows the Rangers to play Sheffield every day, splitting time between right field and DH, with Wilkerson, Nelson Cruz, and Botts splitting the other two slots.
That gets payroll to $61 million.
I'd then go out and try to moneywhip Jason Schmidt on a short-term deal...say, 2 years, $30 million, with a $17 million 2009 vesting option, that requires something like 55 to 60 starts in the previous two years, giving you insurance if his injury problems crop up again.
Then get one of Padilla, Eaton and Wells to stick around...my preference would be Padilla, at something like 3 years, $20 million, although if Eaton accepts arbitration, or if Wells wants to come back on a cheap deal, that would be fine, as well.
Let's say you sign Padilla and Schmidt, for those prices...that gets you to $82 million for 2007, including the ARod money.
That leaves centerfield...and if Torii Hunter really wants to come back home that badly, you can give him a 2 or 3 year deal at $7-8 million per year, that gets payroll to around $90 million. Or you can see if GMJ wants to come back at around $4 million. Otherwise, you can have Fab 5 Freddy out there in center, hitting 9th, for the major league minimum.
So that gets you a 2007 payroll of $82-90 million, depending on what you do in CF. And it gets you a team that should be a division contender in the A.L. West.