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KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 1: Rick Porcello #48 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on October 1, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Thursday, Dec 20 at 4:11 PM
There's an image one could take for the Texas Rangers offseason that seems fairly apt: a line of dominoes falling. All the moves the Rangers whiffed on can be seen this way. Going back as far as the Toronto Blue Jays picking the pockets of the Miami Marlins, leaving them with simply a home run statue and one guy to make it light up.
Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton both sign in Los Angeles, while the proposed four-team deal that would have made Upton switch to Ranger red ended up as a three team swap with Arizona getting Didi Gregorious, Upton going nowhere, and Texas left holding the bag. All that makes up for a disastrous offseason by any standards, but what if one move could be made to set a string of dominoes the Rangers way? There is reason to believe the move exists, and the rumors about it are currently swirling.
That crucial first domino could be Texas dealing for Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Rick Porcello. Porcello, the former first round pick, is on the block now that Detroit has inked Anibal Sanchez to a five year deal for around $80 million. Detroit now has a wealth of starters and a Porcello trade could return some prospect currency to their system. This could have big upide for the Rangers for several reasons.
Porcello is only 23, is not free agent eligible until 2016, and would more than likely come at an affordable cost for a middle of the rotation starter. Porcello's numbers are a bit ugly, however a decent amount of that can be chalked up to being a young ground-ball pitcher playing in front of a putrid Detroit infield defense. Porcello would have room to grow in Texas, with a great defense and outstanding pitching coach to help bring him along. Player cost wise could be two minor leaguers, more than likely position players. That would make the Opening Day 2013 rotation in some order: Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Rick Porcello, Derek Holland, and Alexi Ogando.
Which is where Colby Lewis comes in. The bulldog right hander is on track to return from elbow surgery this summer, and would arrive to a crowded rotation situation. Current projections have him ready by July, which oddly enough is when the non-waiver trade deadline hits on the 31st. That means right as the team would need to move a starter to make room for the Colbra, the avenue to do so would naturally present itself.
Cutting to the chase, Holland's name has been thrown around as a possible trade piece this winter. A team-friendly contract, lots of potential that at times is tapped and other times isn't, Holland is the perfect candidate for a change of scenery. He'd be a very nice chip to put in a deal, and with Lewis ready to re-assume a roster spot Holland's presence wouldn't necessarily be missed. The question becomes, though, what could the Rangers get with a Holland-centered deal?
That's where the crystal ball aspect of this idea gets murkier. Without knowing who is contending at the time of the trade deadline it's almost impossible to declare who would be available. One possibility would be that the Kansas City Royals could find the need for another starter, and might be willing to dangle a couple of players to bring in one. It's conceivable to see that Holland could be flipped to the Royals for a Billy Butler or an Eric Hosmer type, assuming Dayton Moore is still into the whole “trading a bright future for a mediocre now” idea.
Bringing in either one of those, Hosmer especially, could fill a hole at DH which right now is scheduled for a carousel of Mitch Moreland, David Murphy, and possibly Mike Olt. The possibility could even exist a series of catastrophic events befall Arizona, putting them in need of starting pitching. Texas has made no secret of coveting Justin Upton, and if the need for a starter came up Arizona GM Kevin Towers might furiously try to make up with Jon Daniels to fill a need. While the specifics are obviously unknown, the potential is expansive and that's all Daniels seemingly needs to improve his club.
The final domino would fall at the end of 2013, however the Rangers finish up. Following with the narrative above, Holland is gone. Lewis' deal is up, and could seek greener pastures elsewhere. Yet, the Rangers aren't out of luck because sitting at Round Rock refining himself all year has been top pitching prospect Martin Perez. He wasn't forced to come up to the big club, possibly Volquezing his progress. So if Lewis leaves, the hole for a fifth starter is easily plugged with Perez taking the spot after another year of maturity and development.
Meanwhile, two of the team's starters are now under 25 and controlled by the club for a good while. In the process, you've also picked up a piece of strong import to the club that fills a big hole at one position. All because in December or January, one trade was made. This is the nature of baseball, and this is the exact sort of move that reeks of Daniels. It blends short-term improvement with a more long-term perspective. Most importantly however, it would throw the switch the other way on this whole Offseason Apocalypse Disaster 2012 Spectacular that has befallen the Metroplex. It can all be fixed with one trade, or if you will one push of a single domino.