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Another outfield possibility for 2007

I've talked before about the possibility of the Rangers targeting Gary Sheffield as a trade acquisition this offseason, given that the Yankees aren't likely to exercise his $13 million option for 2007.

However, with the pickup of Victor Diaz, and the fact that they are supposedly committed to bringing back Brad Wilkerson in 2007, it seems like the chances of adding Sheffield to a corner OF/DH mix that also includes Nelson Cruz and Jason Botts would be slim. The Rangers would seem to be more likely to bring someone like Matt Stairs in as an insurance policy for those guys, rather than committing to a big dollar corner outfielder like Sheffield.

However, the Rangers also have an issue with centerfield, given that Gary Matthews, Jr., is a free agent, and given that he's likely to be looking for a big payday.

I don't know that the Rangers are going to want to commit big dollars to Matthews, long-term...if they can get him for 3 years, $12 million, then I think they'd be willing to do that, but for more years, or for somewhere along the lines of $6-8 million per year (as some have suggested GMJ will command), I have to think the Rangers would prefer to pass, instead of running the risk of locking themselves into a guy who, for most of his career, has been a good 4th outfielder, not a starting-caliber player.

With Arlington native Vernon Wells scheduled to hit the free agent market after 2007, and there being significant questions about whether Toronto will be able to re-sign him, the Rangers may decide they are better off with a short-term solution in centerfield for next season, and then make a run at Wells.

And a guy who might fit the bill as a short-term solution is Torii Hunter of the Twins.

Hunter has a $12 million option for 2007, but it is commonly believed that the Twins won't exercise that option. And The St. Paul Pioneer News is reporting that the Twins want Hunter to take less than $12 million per year to sign an extension -- which he isn't likely to do -- while Hunter wants a no-trade clause as part of an extension -- something the Twins aren't going to do.

So...given that the Rangers are at $42 million with guys under contract, ARod, and the Wilkerson and Otsuka arbitration cases for 2007, they could probably afford to add Hunter for $12 million for 2007 if GMJ leaves.

And given that the Twins would get nothing for him if they decline his option and can't get him to sign an extension (other than possibly draft choices, although I've seen a couple of folks indicate that a team that declines an option on a player to make him a free agent doesn't get picks -- if anyone knows for sure about that, please let me know), they'd likely be willing to trade him.

Would it be worth giving up a fringey prospect -- a Kevin Mahar or an Anthony Webster or a Travis Metcalf -- to get Hunter here for one season, and pay him $12 million to patrol centerfield next year?

I think so...