Once again illustrating that it's criminally easy to find something compelling to write about during this bustling period in the off-season timeline, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi report that the Texas Rangers are interested in free agent designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero, whose base contractual demands could apparently sit in the $3-5 million range. Not terribly surprising, but definitely something worth mulling over.
That interest harmonizes with the leave-no-stone-unturned philosophy that the front office seems to have adopted, as evidenced by the number of different players/agents that the Rangers have touched base with throughout this week's proceedings in Chicago, but the one thing we're left to ponder is what that "interest" -- which was, of course, relayed by an unnamed source -- really means in this context.
If, for example, a source learned that Jon Daniels and Guerrero's agent -- exactly whom that is, I'm not sure -- chatted for two minutes and then dispersed, does that brief conversation constitute "interest"? The point is that it's prudent to subdue our natural tendencies to overreact whenever eye-opening but vague rumors like this one crop up, because it's far likelier than not that it will end up going nowhere.
And what if it does end up going somewhere? If you operate off the assumption that a non-reinforced Rangers squad would field, say, a .275/.335/.450-hitting amalagamation of players at the designated hitter spot in 2010, and that this hastily assembled group would amass 1½ wins above replacement over the course of a full season, then what you're probably needing to get out of Guerrero in a similar number of plate appearances (say, 600 or so) in order to attain one additional win in the standings is .300/.350/.480-caliber production -- doable, certainly, but dicey given the physical problems that seem to be afflicting him. If you crave a two-win improvement, cross your fingers for a repetition of the .303/.365/.521, 27-homer campaign that Guerrero enjoyed in 2008.
There was, in fact, a time when he could be relied upon to generate some real surplus value above and beyond his paygrade, but the elite-level bat has been emasculated by the atrocious defense in recent years; then again, Guerrero wouldn't be acquired with the intention of playing him in the field, so if you're at all confident that an age-35 Guerrero can rebound offensively on the basis of his enormous baseball talent, then snagging him at a discounted price makes some sense.
That's also the only way it makes any sense, because such a signing would entail considerable risk -- lack of defensive flexibility, age/injury concerns, slumping walk rates, reduced pool of funds to acquire additional talent -- and if the Rangers can't lessen their chances of getting burned by laying down only $3-4 million before rolling the dice, then they would probably be best served by pursuing alternative means of bolstering the lineup.