Free Agent Strategizing, Texas Style

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C.J. Wilson is going to want a lot of money as a free agent.

Presumably, he’ll have his eyes on an $100 million payday, but that’s not going to happen. I’d expect something closer to the deals A.J. Burnett and John Lackey signed with the Yankees and Red Sox ($82.5 million over 5-years). Undoubtedly whichever team signs Wilson will hope for better results than Burnett and Lackey have provided.

In an interesting side note to the Wilson free agency wheel, the Phillies declined the 2012, $16 million option for Roy Oswalt and are paying him a $2 million buyout. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has said he’s open to discussing a new contract with Oswalt, but that’s not going to happen. They have to worry about re-signing Ryan Madson and signing Cole Hamels to a long-term deal; plus they need a bat more than they need pitching.

So how do the Oswalt-Wilson maneuverings connect?

Here’s how: the Rangers aren’t getting into a bidding war for C.J. Wilson especially after the doom and gloom surrounding their loss of Cliff Lee and that they won another pennant without him. They’re said to be interested in Yu Darvish and CC Sabathia, but what would make more sense and be in line with their philosophy is to sign Oswalt—who is a Nolan Ryan favorite; is still a great pitcher when healthy; would love to go to Texas; and wouldn’t demand a 5-year contract—shift Neftali Feliz into the starting rotation; pay for a closer like Heath Bell or Francisco Rodriguez; and spend the money that they’ll offer Wilson (figure around $65 million) on two pitchers to fill three holes instead of using all that money to keep one.

The Rangers would have competition for Oswalt, but he’s often spoken about not playing for that much longer nor having interest in the big city and accompanying aggravation, expectations and attention; Oswalt was reluctant to go to Philadelphia, he’s absolutely not going to want to go to New York and he’s not going to want to go to Boston. He probably would prefer to stay in the National League as well, but would make the exception to go to Texas.

The Rangers have done well with players like Josh Hamilton and a manager, Ron Washington, who’ve had personal problems; they could handle and corral K-Rod or deal with Bell’s quirky personality; and they’re nervy enough to take an established closer like Feliz and move him, once and for all, into the starting rotation just as they did with Wilson.

They’ll be just as good or better and won’t be spending all that money on one player while still having other holes to fill and it would fit right into their budget.

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