The stove is just now getting warm as Major League Baseball heads into the winter months, when teams start to try to piece together what they think will be the magical combination to get them to the pinnacle.
For the Texas Rangers, it is an offseason of intrigue, with holes to fill and different options for how to fill them. Right fielder Nelson Cruz turned down his qualifying offer, left fielder David Murphy comes off the books as a free agent along with catcher A.J. Pierzynski and relief pitcher Joe Nathan is already flirting with Detroit to fill its closer vacancy after holding the position with the Rangers for two years.
There are options galore for General Manager Jon Daniels and the Rangers’ front office to pore over. Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann is on the open market and can be had for the right price. Former Ranger and fan favorite first baseman Mike Napoli is also back on the market after winning a World Series during his one-year contract with the Red Sox. Former Cy Young winner and the man who slayed the Rangers 2013 season, David Price, is rumored to be moved out of Tampa Bay this winter, as well as the young, hellacious slugger Giancarlo Stanton down in South Beach. Center fielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo — the list of moves to improve Daniels‘ baseball club does not suffer from brevity.
Here is one that hasn’t been discussed much, but I believe deserves at least a little bit of thought. Knowing that Daniels and the Rangers’ front office is mostly comprised of ninjas, I highly doubt that I’d be the first one to pitch it, but the Rangers should check in with the Minnesota Twins about first baseman Joe Mauer. Hear me out.
The Twins, well, they aren’t good. And they aren’t going to be good for a while. They’re in the process of building one of the most impressive farm systems comprised in years, but they aren’t there yet. Meanwhile, Mauer will be making $23 million a year to hit in the middle of a lineup that is sure to be dreadful. The Twins have pretty much sold off all of their other big league commodities in the name of building the farm system, and Mauer doesn’t really fit their current business model.
It was recently reported that Mauer would move from behind the plate to full time at first base in 2014. Who knows if that was his call or the club’s, but either way, he fills a position of need. If he could catch 80-100 games per year in the remaining five years of his contract and split the rest of the time at first base or designated hitter, it is a win. If he wants to move out to first base permanently, it is still a win because that position has also been a bit of a revolving door for the Rangers for more than a decade.
He’ll cost a lot in prospects — make no bones about it. I would personally rather see Stanton in a Rangers jersey for the price that Mauer will cost, but it is something to consider. Now we wait to see if Daniels will. His opinion is the only one that really matters anyway.