Why Nolan Arenado could be the perfect investment for the Rangers when they move into their new stadium

Here’s another edition of #EvanHelpUs…

ME: Short answer: No. Technically, the teams have six months to complete the deal from the time it was made (November 2). That gives the Rangers plenty of time to look at minor leaguers in spring training and perhaps into the start of their regular seasons.

The original deal was Smyly and a player to be named later to the Rangers in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Essentially, the deal allowed the Cubs to pick up Cole Hamels’ 2019 option and still keep some degree of salary relief from the Rangers only if they decided not to pick up Hamels’ option. In picking up the option, the Cubs forfeited a $6 million payout towards Hamels’ buyout. By sending Smyly, who will get $7 million, to the Rangers, it makes the money wash.

I would assume the level of prospect the Rangers get may depend on Smyly’s health. He’s returning from Tommy John surgery. While the prognosis is now optimistic, there is still some risk involved. If he has a significant setback, I could see the Rangers getting a better prospect. If he is healthy and can be counted on, then I’d suspect the second player may be much less.

ME: Yes, the outfield is crowded. But, man, what a tough second question. Used to be simple: Chicken Parmesan was the go-to, but I feel like I’ve trended more towards Roman cuisine in recent years. Went through a phase where all I would order was Carbonara. (In Rome, I took my wife to three spots I found in article on Best Carbonara in Rome). If done right, Bucatini Amatriciana, though, can really blow everything away.

Bucatini, those long hollow strands, when cooked in Italy gets this texture that is both firm and chewy all at once. Then you add the smoky savory saltiness of guanciale or pancetta, the earthiness of pecorno cheese and the acidity of a light tomato sauce and man, it just pops in your mouth. Which brings me to another favorite: Saltimbocca, which literally translated, means “pops in your mouth.” I went through a long Saltimbocca love affair. I prefer chicken to veal for a number of reasons, but that chicken cutlet, thin slice of prosciutto, preferably a bit of sage, cheese and a white wine sauce. Oh, man.

Come to think of it, my ideal Italian plate and the Rangers’ outfield situation are both pretty crowded.

ME: The thing that separates the A’s and Rangers in this comparison is that the A’s have a much better track record of evaluating and developing pitching. It’s that simple for me. The Rangers have not done a great job in this area; it’s been the single-biggest flaw in the Jon Daniels’ Era.

It also seems that because the A’s don’t have a long-term window of opportunity, they are more willing to turn their roster over more quickly, which means being willing to trade guys earlier in their service more motivated to trade players earlier in their time clock towards free agency, which brings greater return. Just remember, the A’s had three consecutive 90-loss seasons before this year’s surprise 97-win season.

ME: I expect the Rangers will be willing to make a significant investment or two as they head into the new stadium and Nolan Arenado would be a perfect fit. He will be 28 as the Rangers head into the new stadium for 2020, still a good age for a big investment. He’s a super defender with great pop and, by all accounts, a respected leader in the clubhouse. The biggest question on Arenado is his home and road splits (as is this case for virtually every Colorado hitter). He’s got a 1.008 OPS at home for his career; .842 on the road.

The Rangers, however, are going to have to invest in more pitching, too. They can’t expect that they will grow a championship rotation by 2021. They are going to have to supplement it from the outside. Adding one guy for 2020 and one for 2021 might do the trick.

ME: Don’t see the Rangers having much interest in Pence, at least not in a significant role. Yes, he’s a right-handed hitter, but, I think if they are creating at-bats for a right-handed outfielder, it very well might be homegrown Scott Heineman. Heineman might just have the same intensity level as Pence, so you might call him something of a Hunter Pence starter kit.

As for Derek Holland, the Rangers are maintaining contact with a number of the remaining free agent pitchers, including him. I think they will make another starting rotation addition before camp starts. Holland, Shelby Miller and Martin Perez all remain options. But the market has slowed down and it might again be late January or early February before that class of pitcher signs – unless it is a deal that a club views as below market value.

ME: As mentioned above, the Rangers maintain some level of interest in Perez. I think it would be a mistake to just turn their back on him. He’s left-handed, 28 and still has the ability to get better. Yes, he can be – and has been – quite frustrating. But he’s also quite tantalizing.

ME: The news cycle never stops now. That’s one big “obstacle.” You are constantly checking rumors and chasing the transaction wire. It can and does interfere with your personal life. Can’t tell you the number of times we’ve had dinner interrupted by a text or call that changes the evening for my wife and I. She puts up with it. But it does put a strain on the family element.

So does Twitter, partly because I’m so addicted to interacting with readers. I see Twitter and social media as both a real boon and a real hindrance. But I still go back to what I read in 1994 about “the information super highway” and how it might change journalism. There was an anecdote in the story about how in the future people might be able to instead of calling 900 lines for information, might be able to reach out to the reporter directly. That’s what Twitter does, but it also allows us to have group conversations as well. It allows me to gauge to some extent what customers may be interested in that night. It is, like everything else, a tool.

ME: They have maintained contact with Adam Ottavino, too. Here’s the issue I see: He’s going to get a multi-year relief deal. If the Rangers sign him, it’s because they’ve outbid the rest of the market. If they sign him, it’s also going to be with at least an acknowledgement that they could use him as a trade chip come July.

OK, well, if you are a buyer come July are you going to want to part with a significant prospect or two AND pick up the contract cost? If you are willing to do that, why not just pay the extra money now and not have to surrender any prospects? That’s the part that doesn’t add up for me about Ottavino ending up in Texas.

But, from the Rangers’ standpoint, it makes a lot of sense to continue to monitor his market and pounce if there is an opportunity.

ME: I think the last thing I read on Keuchel indicated he was still seeking a five-year deal. I just don’t see the Rangers in a position where they think a five-year deal for a 31-year-old lefty is a wise investment right now. You figure the next two years are not contending years. And those are the best years you’d presumably get from Keuchel. By the time you are ready to contend again, he’s 33 and has over 1,500 major league innings logged on that arm (which caused him to miss time in 2016-17).

Keuchel’s WHIP was over 1.3 last year, the highest since 2013. His strikeouts per nine innings fell below seven. I like Dallas Keuchel a lot, but there are a lot of numbers that are trending downward. Think he makes more sense on a front-loaded deal for a team that can contend now. Doesn’t seem like things match up for where Keuchel is in his career and where the Rangers are in their rebuild.

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