Per reports from Joel Sherman and Evan Grant, the Rangers are discussing the possibility of moving Elvis Andrus, with Sherman saying "Texas would love to unload that deal," and Grant stating, "It's not so difficult to put a value on Andrus, even as teams are checking in on him. There is none."
This figures to be a common theme this offseason, that the Texas front office is desperate to rid themselves of Andrus's contract because -- holy crap! -- $120 million is a lot of money. Which it is, don't get me wrong. But when you stretch it over eight seasons it only equates to around $15 million per year, as I mentioned the other day, so it's never going to be as bad of a contract in reality as people on television will try to make you believe. MLB Network-types seem to think a guy like Jed Lowrie would be a better value at something like three years and $39 million, but you're still talking about $13 million a year. Elvis has the longer commitment, though it's not like the team paying him has to pay it in one big lump sum like it's the lottery or something. Let's face it: $15 million/year isn't very much money anymore. The Rangers shortstop has value; most of us understand that; at this point, though, he almost assuredly has more value to Texas than any other team in the league, which is why I don't think he's going anywhere this winter.
Evan also writes that free agent RHP Colby Lewis, whom the Rangers failed to strike a deal with before the free agency period got underway, is expected to return to Texas in 2015. It's hard to speculate on the preliminary figures that were tossed around, but having Cobra in the fold would be a positive in the sense that it will narrow the front office's focus moving forward.
Lastly, Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution opines that the Braves should trade C/DH Evan Gattis and both of the Upton brothers. We can forget about B.J., because the Rangers probably wouldn't have any interest in him even if he came free of charge, but Gattis and Justin Upton are both intriguing possibilities whom Texas are likely to be in on.
Gattis carries a lot of power and has a cool story attached, so it's natural why the public has an infatuation with him. Personally, he's never been my bag, notably because he doesn't have a true position and is pathetic at getting on base (lifetime .304 OBP). Yes, the slugging is there (.480 in 2013, .493 in '14), but how much would you be willing to give up for a backup catcher who can't play defense, who in two years has still yet to show he's anything more than a platoon hitter? In 606 career plate appearances against same-handed pitching, Gattis stands at just .241/.297/.469 (111 wRC+), compared to a dominant .295/.328/.548 (138 wRC+) in 177 PAs vs. southpaws.
Upton, on the other hand -- Justin, that is -- was famously on the Rangers' radar heading into the 2013 season, the winter they refused to part with either of Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar. He has only one year remaining on his contract, at a healthy $14.5 million, but he would easily satisfy Texas's offseason need of a middle-of-the-order corner outfield bat. Given the Rangers payroll predicament, I assume they would have to trade a player, or two, to shift some money around and be able to afford Upton along with a couple starters. If, however, we're talking about legitimate solutions for the minor roster issue they're faced with, they aren't likely to find a better offensive specimen this offseason.
Upton is only 27 and in the prime of his career. Last season he generated about four wins in route to strong a .270/.342/.491 (133 wRC+) triple slash line, and if Texas failed to strike a longterm deal with him they could always give him a qualifying offer after the season and recoup a draft pick. There's also the idea that John Hart -- Jon Daniels's mentor -- is now the Braves President of Baseball Operations, something I feel is worth noting as we move forward with future trade options. (The same holds true for dealing with A.J. Preller in San Diego.) Upton, like Ben Zobrist, is extremely valuable and won't come without a hefty cost. Joey Gallo, Jorge Alfaro and Nomar Mazara should remain off the table, particularly for these one-year rentals, but Justin Upton is the type of splash move that would help transform the Rangers back into the force they intend to be in 2015.