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Looking, again, at the payroll situation

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With the latest signings and departures, I thought I'd re-visit a couple of earlier posts from the previous couple of months on the salary situation for the team next year, and what the Rangers could conceivably do with their available money...

The following players are under contract for 2007:

Kevin Millwood -- $10.5 million

Mark Teixeira -- $9.4 million

Hank Blalock -- $4.75 million

Frank Catalanotto -- $3.5 million

Michael Young -- $3.5 million

Ron Mahay -- $1.25 million

Miguel Ojeda -- $450,000

That's $33.35 million. Add in the $7 million or so for ARod, and the team is at around $40.35 million.

The Rangers have two significant arbitration-eligible players...Brad Wilkerson and Akinori Otsuka. The Rangers are looking at about $4 million for Wilkerson and $3 million for Otsuka.

That gets the payroll to $47.35 million.

The starting catcher and second baseman are likely to be Laird and Kinsler, and those two are looking at about $400K apiece. Jason Botts and Nelson Cruz will likely both be on the team, at around $400K apiece.

You are going to have 5 more bullpen guys to go with Otsuka and Mahay. My guess is that the Rangers will go with Littleton, Francisco, Feldman, Wilson, and either Benoit, Masset or Loe. Those five will come in at about $3.5 million, combined, somewhat less if the Rangers don't bring back Benoit. Robinson Tejeda seems slotted in a rotation slot, at about $400K. The Rangers seem committed to going with a fifth starter from within the organization -- Josh Rupe would be my guess, although Kam Loe and John Danks are also possibilities.

That gets the payroll to about $53.5 million, with centerfield, 2 rotation spots, a backup outfielder, and a backup infielder still needed.

I'd guess that Freddy Guzman will be the backup outfielder (remember, you've got Cat, Cruz, Wilk, and Botts splitting four slots, so the backup outfielder really just needs to be able to backup center). Ramon Vazquez got an NRI, and seems like the leading choice to be the backup infielder, although the Rangers could make a push for someone like Rich Aurilia, who could platoon at third base. Let's say that there will be $1.5 million allocated to those two backup slots (although I think that's high)...that gets us to $55 million.

If the Rangers are willing to go $80-85 million on their payroll, that means you have $25-30 million left to spend on a centerfielder and 2 starting pitchers.

For centerfield, the Rangers seem to be looking for someone like Kenny Lofton or Jay Payton on a one year deal, although I think the team is leaving open the possibility of going with Cruz or Guzman out there. But if the Rangers snag, say, Lofton, that's probably one year at $4-5 million.

You've still got $20-25 million for two starting pitchers. And my guess, at this point, is that the Rangers' ideal scenario would be to bring back Vicente Padilla and go get Barry Zito. Barring that -- and I think Zito is a longshot, but I also think that the Rangers are going to end up offering him something in the neighborhood of 5 years, $70 million, which at least gets them in the running -- I think we see the Rangers look at Ted Lilly, and resume the Jon Garland trade talks.

But this would end up with a team looking something like this:

Cat DH
Lofton CF
Young SS
Teixeira 1B
Blalock 3B
Kinsler 2B
Wilkerson LF
Cruz RF
Laird C

Rotation:

Millwood
Padilla
Garland
Tejeda
Rupe

Pen:

Otsuka
Francisco
Littleton
Wilson
Feldman
Mahay
Benoit