#38 / Designated Hitter / New York Yankees
Mar 06, 1977
The Rangers are in spending mode this offseason, and have apparently set their sights on trying to add both Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez, who would solidify the Rangers' rotation and catching, respectively.
That being said, there are a few other holes that will need to be addressed, and if both Lee and Martinez were to be signed, the available cash to fill those holes won't be great. And even if you don't sign both players, you still want to spend money wisely, and it may be that the Rangers can fill holes with lower priced free agents who can given you solid production.
One of the Rangers' holes, of sorts, is the DH position. Vladimir Guerrero is a free agent, and may or may not be back. One of the things that we've discussed here is the possibility of not having a full-time DH who is limited to playing just DH, but instead, using multiple players in that role, allowing the team more flexibility. David Murphy, for example, could play every day against righthanded pitchers, and could DH many of those games, but could also play the corner outfield spots, allowing the team to give Nelson Cruz or Josh Hamilton a day off from the field.
In order for that to work, however, you'd also need to have a platoon partner for Murphy, someone like the recently departed Jeff Francoeur who could be your DH against lefthanded pitching.
Enter Marcus Thames. Former Ranger Marcus Thames, as a matter of fact...he was acquired from the New York Yankees in exchange for Ruben Sierra in 2003, then cut loose after the season. Thames spent the 2004-09 seasons as a part-time outfielder with the Tigers, and then spent 2010 with the Yankees.
We should be clear on Thames limitations -- he's not a good defender, being limited pretty much to left field. He's not a good baserunner -- in 604 career games, he's 3 for 12 on the basepaths. But what Thames does do is hit lefties -- he has a career .264/.333/.505 mark, including a .300/.352/.454 line last year.
And if you are looking for someone to share the short side of a platoon role with David Murphy, Thames would be a very good fit. He's not likely to be looking for (or getting) a full-time job anywhere, and he's probably signable for something around the $900,000 for one year he got from the Yankees in 2010.
He allows you to play David Murphy every day against righthanders, while giving you some flexibility off the bench against lefties.
If you go with this plan, you will probably want to keep Craig Gentry on the roster as your 5th outfielder, but it isn't as if the Rangers really need 2 backup infielders anyway (as we discussed at great length during 2010).
So...just someone to keep an eye on and think about as the offseason progresses.