11/29/12 3:45 PM ET
Rangers put focus on significant rotation piece
Also seeking veteran relief help, answers to catching void
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
Catcher: The Rangers ended the season with Mike Napoli and Geovany Soto splitting time behind the plate. But Napoli is a free agent and Soto could be non-tendered if the Rangers can't work out a new contract with him by 11 p.m. CT on Friday. Even if they do, the Rangers will be looking for a second catcher to pair with Soto, whether it is Napoli or somebody else. The Rangers have interest in free agents A.J. Pierzynski and Russell Martin. Relief pitching: The Rangers need at least two veteran setup relievers in front of closer Joe Nathan. They have right-handers Tanner Scheppers, Wilmer Font and Justin Grimm, and left-handers Robbie Ross and Michael Kirkman but want some experience to go with that group. Left-handed bat: If Hamilton signs elsewhere, the Rangers will be losing some serious offensive production from the middle of their order. They prefer a left-handed bat to fit inside their top right-handed hitters: Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz. Switch-hitter Nick Swisher could have some appeal. Who they can trade
Middle infielder: The Rangers are loaded in the middle, starting with Andrus and Kinsler. Then there is Jurickson Profar, their top prospect, as well as Leury Garcia and Luis Sardinas, two other middle infielders in the Rangers' Top 20 Prospects as determined by MLB.com. If the Rangers do make a major trade, figure at least one of these middle infielders being a part of it. Julio Borbon: The Rangers' Opening Day center fielder in 2010-11 is still on the 40-man roster even though he spent all of 2012 in Triple-A. He is buried behind Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin. Nelson Cruz: He is a free agent after this upcoming season. If the Rangers sign Swisher or a left-handed bat, it could give them an opportunity to move Cruz to reinforce another area of need. Top prospects
Profar is certainly the most discussed prospect but the Rangers also have infielder Mike Olt and center fielder Leonys Martin who could be of interest to other teams. Cody Buckel has emerged as their top pitching prospect now that Perez is in the big leagues. Rule 5 Draft
Left-handed pitcher Chad Bell may be of interest to other teams. He was 8-7 with a 3.48 ERA at three levels this past season although he walked 37 in 80 innings at Triple-A Round Rock. First baseman Chris McGuinness, who was the Most Valuable Player in the Arizona Fall League, is also available. The Rangers did not take a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft in 2011. Big contracts they might unload
Michael Young is in the final year of his contract and is due $16 million. He remains the Rangers' primary designated hitter who can fill in at third, second and first. He is coming off a below average year. There may not be a lot of interest in him but the Rangers have listened in the past. Arbitration-eligible
Soto, Harrison and outfielder David Murphy are all arbitration-eligible. Harrison has two years to go before free agency and the Rangers are interested in signing him to a long-term contract. Payroll summation
The Rangers' payroll will likely be around $120 million but their ownership group has not been afraid to spend money in the right situations. The Rangers have sufficient financial flexibility.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.