Getting the Gang Back Together -- Darren Oliver

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 24: Darren Oliver #28 of the Texas Rangers pitches in the eighth inning during Game Five of the MLB World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 24, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

I saw the following tweet from Jon Paul Morosi that got me thinking:

The Rangers, of course, wanted to bring Darren Oliver back for 2012...however, they wanted him at a much lower contract figure than what he got from the Blue Jays. Oliver is getting $4.5 million this year, and has a $3 million club option for 2013 that includes a $500,000 buyout.

Here's Oliver in 2012:


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Darren Oliver 2-2 38 0 0 0 1 1 34.2 23 5 5 2 9 34 1.30 .92

We've talked before about how the Rangers' need -- or at least, could use -- another reliable lefty reliever. The lone lefthander in the bullpen that Ron Washington has any trust in right now is Robbie Ross. Ross has been terrific this year, but Ross also just turned 23, has never had to hold up over a full major league season, and is currently tied with the Twins' Anthony Swarzak for the most relief innings pitched in the American League this season. Ross is on pace for 85 innings this year -- a heavy load for any reliever.

So one has to be concerned about whether Ross is going to be out of gas come October. You'd also really prefer to have your postseason bullpen loaded with two lefties, rather than just one, and while there's some talk that Derek Holland might end up in the postseason bullpen, that would be because of his struggles as a starter, which doesn't provide for a lot of confidence. If not Holland, your other internal options are Michael Kirkman and Martin Perez, and I don't think anyone is really wanting to have them facing Prince Fielder in a tie game in the 8th inning of ALCS Game 7 with two on and two outs.

So we come back to Oliver, who has been nails once again this year, who is already in the Ron Washington Tree of Trust, and who is even subject to a pretty reasonable team option for 2013. If, in fact, the Blue Jays are selling, Oliver is a player who will likely be in demand. Relievers are hard to get a gauge on in terms of trade value...Oliver would cost more to acquire in trade than Michael Gonzalez did (when the Rangers sent an about-to-be-out-of-options Pedro Strop to Baltimore for him), and less than Mike Adams (Robbie Erlin/Joe Wieland) and Koji Uehara (Chris Davis/Tommy Hunter) did. Maybe something like Luke Jackson for Oliver?

I don't know...I don't have a good read on the trade market at this point. But I think this is something to keep an eye on, and if the Blue Jays really are sellers, I'd expect the Rangers to be hot and heavy on Oliver.

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