Okay, at this point, I think it is fair to assume that GMJ and Mark DeRosa are not likely to re-sign. Given that, 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
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. 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 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 6 more bullpen guys to go with Otsuka. My guess is that the Rangers will go with Littleton, Francisco, Feldman, Wilson, Mahay, and either Loe or Rupe. Those six will come in at about $3.5 million, combined. Robinson Tejeda seems slotted in a rotation slot, at about $400K.
That gets the payroll to about $47.5 million, with centerfield, 3 rotation spots, and the bench to fill. That assumes, though, that you are going with a Wilkerson/Cruz/Botts corner OF/DH alignment...I think the Rangers will probably want to add another bat to that mix.
Looking at the bench, I think the Rangers are likely to go with Freddy Guzman, or some similar fast guy who can pick it in center, for a bench slot. They seem to be leaning towards bringing Miguel Ojeda back as the backup catcher...that fills two slots for about $1 million. The last bench slot, you'd probably want a righty-hitting guy who can play all three infield spots and spell Blalock at 3B against lefties. Budget $1-1.5 million there, and you are now at about $50 million.
If the Rangers are willing to go $80-85 million on their payroll, that means you have $30-35 million left to spend on a centerfielder, a bat, and 3 starting pitchers, although you may want to stay in house for the 5th starter -- going with, say, Josh Rupe or an NRI like Kip Wells.
The primary options for centerfield would seem to be someone like Dave Roberts, at $3 million per year for a couple of years, or sticking Freddy Guzman out there for a season. I don't think Guzman would be great, but if he could get you a .330-.340 OBP (and he's shown good on base skills in the minors) with plus defense, then I think he'd be an acceptable option.
For your bat, you could get in the Gary Sheffield sweepstakes, or you could pursue someone like Moises Alou on something like a 1 year, $5 million deal, or Craig Wilson on a similar contract. Wilson is younger, and I'd probably be willing to go 2-3 years on a contract with him.
Let's say you go with Dave Roberts and Craig Wilson...that should leave you about $22 million to add starting pitching. Say, Vicente Padilla and Jason Schmidt. Or Jeff Suppan and Andy Pettitte. Or a trade for Brad Penny (although I'm not sure what the Rangers could offer for Penny that the Dodgers would want, unless they were willing to part with Otsuka).
Anyway...if you could put together a team like this:
I think you've got a very solid lineup, top to bottom, three quality starting pitchers, and a good young pen.
I think this is doable. And I'd like the Rangers' chances of being a playoff contender with something along those lines.