If the rumor circulating baseball is true, and the Florida Marlins are considering making Dontrelle Willis available, the Texas Rangers cannot afford to sit on it. They must act. We're talking about a 25-year-old lefthander with 65 career victories for a terrible team. He won't come cheap. But the Rangers must act, and here's why.
With the exception of Eric Hurley, the farm system is not producing. Edinson Volquez has flopped so far, Thomas Diamond is out with Tommy John and the celebrated trio of Kiker, Main and Beavan is at least three years away. The main rotation is a collection of fifth starters, overhyped underachievers and journeymen castoffs. Forget the next Nolan Ryan. Ranger fans are praying for the next Oil Can Boyd, that's how desperate the situation has become. Kevin Millwood is a pretty solid innings eater, but in reality is a Number 2 starter at best. Vicente Padilla is as hit and miss as any of his random pitches. Brandon McCarthy is trying too hard to be a pre-Boston Josh Beckett with all his blister problems. Simply put, when your best starter this year has been Mike Wood, you need an upgrade.
And so, you might ask, what will it cost? There are several combinations of what might be needed to get a deal done, all roughly adding up to an arm and a leg. But if you're as bad as the Rangers are, you bite the bullet and do the deal. With that in mind, here are some scenarios that might allow Dontrelle Willis to end up in a Rangers uniform.
1. Volquez (who still has some trade value and would be welcome in Miami), P John Koronka, OF Nelson Cruz, 3B prospect Johnny Whittleman and C prospect Taylor Teagarden. This would allow Florida to also move Miguel Cabrera and allow Aaron Boone to play 3B until Whittleman is ready. Do not offer Hurley, but if they ask for Kiker, do it.
2. Volquez, Hank Blalock, 1b prospect Chris Davis and Teagarden. Florida can wait a couple more months for a better Cabrera deal while Blalock rehabs, then watch him step in when Cabrera's gone.
3. Use some of the prospects from a Teixeira trade. Depending on where Teixeira goes, the Rangers could end up with some combination of Nick Markakis, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Chuck James, Hayden Penn, Adam Loewen, Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera, Jon Lester, Craig Hansen, Brandon Moss, etc. Depending on who it is, the Rangers could even offer John Mayberry, Jr. The Marlins will want a long-ball threat, especially if they have to deal Cabrera, and Mayberry is hitting them so far this year. Perhaps an offer of Mayberry, Chris Davis (another power source), Teagarden and Volquez along with another pitcher (Joaquin Benoit, C.J. Wilson) would be enough. An intriguing option is seeing if the Marlins would take Diamond as part of the deal and bank on his recovery from surgery. If so, it could be a heck of a deal for both sides.
The Rangers have stated that they feel they need to grow their own ace. In Hurley, they might indeed have one, and the prevailing theory in Arlington is that the time has come for the Rangers to blow up the team and start anew. This would seem to preclude acquiring any big ticket items like Willis. However, remember that Willis is only 25 and could anchor the Rangers rotation for the next decade or longer. Can you imagine a rotation of Willis, Hurley, Millwood, McCarthy and Padilla/Hughes? Now if only the bats would wake up.
I know what you're thinking. None of this looks nice. Many of the prospects I just listed will likely go on to bright futures. Teagarden is the Rangers best catching prospect, Mayberry its best outfield prospect (though that could change if Markakis comes on board) and Davis one of its best power hitters coming up. Not to mention Volquez, who could still become a good major-league pitcher. But the fact is if you want talent, you have to give talent. Jon Daniels has shown he is not afraid to make deals. Will he make the right one this time?