Ken Rosenthal's latest Inside Dish list the Rangers as potential suitors for two big names this offseason -- Manny Ramirez, who the BoSox are apparently going to be trying to deal, and A.J. Burnett, who will be a free agent.
I've talked about Burnett at some length, and think he'd be a longshot, plus, given his injury and performance history, overpriced.
Ramirez, though, is very intriguing...particularly if, as Rosenthal suggests, the BoSox would be willing to pick up some of his contract and/or take salary back in return.
Ramirez is getting up there in age, and whoever picks him up would get his age 34-36 seasons, which means a fair amount of risk. But Ramirez is an elite offensive player, a guy who gets on base and hits for power, a guy who would be the type of middle-of-the-order bat that would compliment Blalock and Teixeira quite nicely.
Ramirez is owed $57 million over the next three seasons, and Boston is going to have to subsidize his contract to get someone to take him. But the Rangers were supposedly willing to take him in exchange for Alex Rodriguez, before those talks broke down, and John Hart had Ramirez in Cleveland, and has long been a Manny fan.
Manny is definitely not a Buck-type player, but he'd probably fit better with Buck than Alex Rodriguez, for example, did. ARod butted heads with Buck over control and influence issues. Manny isn't going to want to have the influence Alex did...he wants to show up, play (most of the time), and be left alone. He's much like Soriano in that regard...he's going to hotdog from time to time, drive you nuts with his lack of hustle, but he'd probably mesh better with Buck's personality than an alpha-dog like ARod did.
So what would be a good fit? Just speculating here...but how about sending Alfonso Soriano and Phil Nevin to the BoSox for Manny and Jon Lester, with the BoSox picking up $5 million on Manny's contract in 2007 and 2008?
By dumping the useless Nevin and his $9 million 2006 salary on the Red Sox, the Rangers would be getting Manny for, in essence, $10 million in 2006...the same amount Soriano is likely to get in arbitration. That means that you can plug Manny in at DH or RF, and Kinsler at 2B, ultimately more than replacing Soriano's offense with Manny's offense, and upgrading your second base defense in the bargain.
You are still on the hook for $14 million for Manny for 2007 and 2008, but the total deal, over a three year period, is about the same as the Rangers were willing to commit over that period of time for Carlos Delgado, who isn't as good a hitter as Manny is. And unlike with Delgado, you don't have to negotiate DH vs. playing the field.
Lester gives you another solid, high-upside arm for the pen, and the addition of Ramirez allows you to move either Jason Botts or (more likely, because of the greater trade value he'd command) Adrian Gonzalez in the pursuit of pitching help this offseason.
Soriano makes sense for Boston because they have a gaping hole at 2B right now, and adding Soriano would be a perfect way for Epstein and Henry to gig King George in their ongoing psychological battle with the Yanks.
And finally, Manny's deal expires after the 2008 season, which means he's off the books in time for the Rangers to spend big to re-up Mark Teixeira.
If you bring in Manny, you have an anchor for the middle of the lineup, can go young with Kinsler at 2B, Laird at catcher, Nix in CF, and either Botts or Gonzalez at 1B (with Teixeira moving to RF) or DH, and still have plenty of cash (assuming the payroll is bumped up to the $65 million range) to add 2 or 3 quality starting pitchers.
This makes way, way too much sense, so it probably won't happen.
But damn, that would be nice...