Apropos of something: Norm Hitzges will be running Ron Washington, Nolan Ryan, and Eric Nadel through the house during today's Norm-A-Thon at 8:30 a.m., 1:10 p.m., and 4:50 p.m. CST respectively, so be apprised of that and prepare for some awkward Josh Hamilton/off-season discussion or some such:
● Jim Bowden believes the Rangers should trade Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt, and Martin Perez to the Marlins in exchange forGiancarlo Stanton and Ricky Nolasco, suggesting that Stanton would help replace the power void left behind by the departures of Josh Hamilton and (probably, though not definitely) Mike Napoli, that Stanton is high on the Rangers' list of targets (as are Carlos Gonzalez and Justin Upton), and that Texas might actually pull the trigger on a Profar trade if it meant netting a talent of Stanton's caliber and controllability (ESPN.com)
[This proposal is, in one sense, a throwback to the summer of 2010, when the Rangers reportedly offered Florida their three best prospects in exchange for Josh Johnson and were immediately rebuffed. Two and a half years later, Johnson has been moved north of the border (and, for the record, averaged only 125 innings across 2011-12), the target is now Stanton, but the same basic premise remains in place -- deal from the very top of a loaded system for a controllable, game-changing talent whose projection justifies the exorbitant prospect cost. I don't think there's any great reason for us to expect that Stanton will be dealt yet this winter (indeed, the entire collective of national baseball scribes has insisted for weeks that Stanton will stay put), but let's assume for the sake of discussion that Bowden's proposal has some basis in reality.
Nolasco, at $11.5 million for one year, is a pricey but usable back-end starter with a higher floor than Martin Perez/Justin Grimm/et al. but an established trend of underperforming his peripherals by nearly a full run per nine innings over the last four seasons; from a salary/performance standpoint, Nolasco adds little to nothing in the way of value, meaning that this essentially boils down to four years of Stanton for six years each of Profar/Olt/Perez. That's four years of an established young star on a Cooperstown-esque trajectory for eighteen combined years of could-be, might-be, but-aren't-yet stars -- keeping in mind, of course, that the median outcomes on Profar/Olt/Perez are probably something like an above-average to All-Star shortstop, a solid-average corner infielder, and a No. 3-4 starting pitcher. I love dreaming on prospect ceilings as much as the next guy, but you can't mold a roster or a long-term plan based solely on best-case-scenario upside, because it's not all that often that the best-case scenario actualizes.
The thing worth keeping in mind here is that while the Stanton trade rumors probably won't gear up in earnest yet this winter, the day is likely coming when they will gear up in earnest, and that speaks to one of the advantages of holding firm on your prospect cache -- doing so can open up a window of opportunity to acquire a potentially generational talent later, a theory which becomes easier to buy into with Stanton once you look around and recognize there aren't many organizations with the ammo necessary to make a legitimate run at someone of Stanton's pedigree. To tell you the truth, I don't really like talking about this Stanton thing much because it has such a huge pipe-dream vibe about it, and, frankly, I don't think Bowden's proposal is heavy enough from the Rangers' end ... but to the extent that Bowden's proposal has some basis in reality, yes, I'm pulling the trigger on that deal. It hurts like hell, but you do it.]
● Jon Heyman says that the Diamondbacks' recent signing of Cody Ross could mean that a Justin Upton trade is "back in play," though an Upton trade would apparently require a sales pitch from the front office to owner Ken Kendrick, who is an Upton fan; the thought process here is that either Upton or Jason Kubel will be moved to alleviate Arizona's outfield logjam, and that Upton could end up being dealt over Kubel because Upton stands to recoup a lot more value; for what it's worth, Heyman says "there's a belief [Kevin] Towers would still trade Upton if Texas was willing to give up ... Elvis Andrus ... or Jurickson Profar (though there's no indication the Rangers are about to relent on either of those two)" (CBSSports.com)
[There have been reports hither and yon about the Rangers maybe, maybe relenting on the Diamondbacks' asking price for Upton, but I can't envision a scenario where Profar -- the more valuable of the Rangers' twoshortstops to most trade partners -- is tossed into the pot for Upton, and the problem with the Andrus-for-Upton idea is that Texas didn't offer Andrus before, and still isn't doing it now, while Towers seems perfectly content going into the season with Didi Gregorius as his starting shortstop. The idea here, then, is that the Rangers will have to be the ones who blink, who elevate their bid for Upton above and beyond its previous high because their contingency plans didn't work out and because their sense of urgency is such that they now feel compelled to pay more for Upton than what they've previously valued him as being worth.
Could it happen? Yeah. But it's going to take some imagination, some compromise, and a greater show of faith in Upton on the part of the Rangers than what their bids thus far seem to indicate.]
● While the Red Sox' reported preference is to complete a deal with still-free-agent Mike Napoli, they have also engaged free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche in some level of talks, and could conceivably move on from Napoli if they cannot complete a reworked agreement with "protective language" guarding against Napoli's balky hip situation; in turn, Napoli's representatives have reportedly been in contactwith at least one other team since negotiations between the two sides hit a roadblock; Ken Rosenthal speculates that if negotiations should break off altogether, "Napoli would go back into the market and likely accept a shorter, cheaper deal, perhaps from his former club, the Texas Rangers" (FOXSports.com)
[This, as Rosenthal and others have noted, is likely a three-way leverage play, as both the Red Sox and Napoli look to strengthen their respective bargaining positions by bringing other parties into the mix, while LaRoche attempts to put the screws to the Nationals and extract his desired three-year offer. For the sake of discussion, though, let's say that the Red Sox and Napoli ultimately do end up breaking off negotiations, and Napoli re-enters the market. The Napoli-to-Texas scenario isn't completely implausible based on the information we have available to us at this stage, but it presupposes two things: (a) the Rangers see enough value in Napoli as a 1B/DH-exclusive player to issue a new bid that the Napoli camp finds worthwhile, and (b) the Rangers are okay with purchasing what seems to be damaged goods. It's hard for me to believe that both (a) and (b) are true, and while it's fun to dream of 2011 Napoli coming back and capturing our hearts again, the ship, in all likelihood, has sailed.]
● Gerry Fraley writes that there is "growing enthusiasm" within the organization about Colby Lewis's recuperation from flexor tendon surgery, and suggests that Lewis could possibly return in May, "about six weeks ahead of an early projection"; for his part, Jon Daniels cautioned that "it's still a little premature to say he's officially ahead of schedule [...] May is a possibility but we want to get him back once and get him back for good when he comes back. Overall it's definitely positive news but as we all know it's better to be cautious and make sure there are no setbacks.
(Anthony Andro, FOXSports.com)
[At this point, I'd rather see Texas roll out Darvish/Harrison/Holland/Ogando/Perez on Opening Day and bank on Lewis heroically riding to the mid-season rescue -- even with my continued trepidation with respect to his health -- than commit a largesse to Kyle Lohse, whom Jim Bowden believes could be in line for three years, $45 million and whom Texas apparently isn't interested in anyway. I'm pretty sure I would also prefer that over having anything to do with Aaron Cook or Chien-Ming Wang, whom Fraley mentioned as back-rotation possibilities on Wednesday; non-roster invites are one thing, but that wouldn't be a pretty scene even out of the No. 5 rotation spot.]