After arguing with people on Twitter for a while today about how the Texas Rangers' situation in 2015 isn't hopeless, I've now been pointed to a piece by Dave Cameron in which he argues that the Rangers should consider trading Adrian Beltre and Yu Darvish, because their outlook for 2015 is so bleak.
I share some of his concerns, but don't necessarily agree with his overall conclusion. I'm probably going to write something in the next day or two about the overall outlook for next year, and thus am not going to delve too deeply into my disagreements with him here, but do want to take issue with one thing in particular:
The team had an Opening Day payroll of about $135 million this year, so if they keep Soria around or replace him with an equivalently priced free agent, they'll have about $18 million to spend this winter to get back to this season's budget number. Even if you think that number might rise somewhat -- and I'd say that's far from a sure thing, given the team's performance and how poorly the team has spent on big ticket items of late -- they're still going to need to spread their available cash around to get an outfielder to replace Alex Rios, acquire a new catcher, find a better first baseman than Mitch Moreland, and obtain at least a couple of decent starting pitchers to shore up the rotation. At minimum, they need five new core players, and even if they had $30 million to spend, getting five good regulars in the free agent market would be an unrealistic long-shot.
I think you can bring back Rios, roll with Robinson Chirinos and Chris Gimenez at catcher, keep Prince Fielder at first base, and use some combination of Michael Choice/Jim Adduci/Engel Beltre in a LF/DH mix with Shin-Soo Choo, and your payroll is at a similar level to what it is now. If you can find a viable starting pitcher, either via trade or through using the Matt Harrison insurance money to spend on a mid-level free agent, I think you end up with a team that should be in the playoff hunt, while keeping payroll at 2014 levels.
Of course, if you think that the new TV deal that kicks in next year means that payroll goes up to the $150 million range, then you could consider adding a Cliff Lee or a David Price as expensive, short-term starting pitching options. That would allow you to go with Yu/Lee or Price/Holland as your 1-2-3, fill in the #4 and #5 spots with internal options or cheap NRIs, and be in pretty good shape, overall.
You, and Dave Cameron, are welcome to disagree, of course. But I think it is way premature to write off the Texas Rangers for 2015.