Is J. D. About to Say Merry Christmas Mr. Washington?
Last year at the winter meetings, Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels' main goal was to pawn off some of John Hart's excess baggage. Perhaps, you recall, the Rangers weren't keen on Alfonso Soriano at second base with Ian Kinsler on the rise. Hart failed to trade Soriano at the deadline in 2005 when the "second baseman's" value had peaked, so Daniels was left to get what he could. Thus, we got the Brad Wilkerson blockbuster, emphasis on the BUST.
If reports out of the first day of Major League Baeball's winter meetings are any indication, this year's activity will be much better. It is now almost certain the Rangers have agreed to retain the services of Vicente Padilla for three more years for a total of $34 miilion, with a club option for a fourth. This begins the 2007 stabilization of the Rangers rotation as the team's top two starters from last season will remain with the team and continue to learn how to pitch in Bad Credit, No Problem Field.
The second bit of intrigue involves manager Ron Washington's number one Christmas wish. The Rangers apparently are, by far, the front runner for free agent Barry Zito. Evidently, the joy of baseball-ville has touched Tom Hicks and opened his wallet which is usually two sizes too small to appreciate the joy of baseball present. Reports are the Rangers are offering a whopping 6 years at $102 million dollars. Interesting considering the Rangers closed their eyes while Millwood signed his five-year contract last winter. But that truned out to be a pretty solid deal.
If the Rangers can, in fact, close this deal, suddenly they may have a top American League rotation. Zito, despite the expert's free agency dissection, is an ace. Millwood and Padilla are solid middle of the rotation guys. Robinson Tejeda is an up-and-comer with great stuff as a fourth starter. Then, the Rangers can fill the fifth spot with any one of a number of prospects looking to fight for a major league roster spot.
If all comes to fruition, "Merry Christmas Mr. Washington!"