Dayn Perry is a baseball writer for CBS Sports dot com, and someone whose opinion I hold in high regard.
Yesterday, Perry gave a particularly bleak outlook for the Rangers looking into the future, noting, among other things, "they'll be paying [Prince] Fielder $114 million for his deep decline phase," Shin-Soo Choo owning "one of the five worst contracts in the game," and Elvis Andrus's "ill-advised pact, which will pay him through 2023."
Jeez. Say it ain't so, Dayn.
Now, it isn't like this is the first time we have come across this line of thinking; if it were Randy Galloway or some reactionary national columnist responding to Texas's miserable 2014 campaign, it wouldn't be worth the space I'm writing on. Dayn Perry, though -- to put it colloquially -- has street cred. The guy knows his baseball and doesn't mess around with traditional school of thought.
On the one hand I'm taken aback, but that's probably an emotional response more than anything. This is my favorite baseball team he is talking about. I thought the consensus among those with two eyes was that last season was an aberration for the Rangers and they'll be back on track once half their roster isn't injured. But, that Perry is attacking Texas where it really hurts -- not through injuries, mind you -- and directing his lens through the contracts of Fielder/Choo/Andrus being albatrosses, is a fully rational criticism.
With that said, I disagree with him.
Yes, Prince Fielder's deal is an anchor. The Rangers owe $114 million on his contract through 2020, an average annual value of $19 million. At the current price of WAR, he has to produce about 18 wins over the next six years to justify the deal, roughly 3 WAR/season. It's realistic he never makes it there, but I'm not ready to write off his career after an injury-plagued 178 plate appearances in Texas last season. That, and the Rangers have proven they don't need a first baseman to make it to the World Series. (If they can get there with Mitch Moreland and Michael Young in consecutive years, they can make it with anybody.)
Shin-Soo Choo, too, was hurt in 2014. He had a bum ankle and got bone spurs removed from his elbow almost immediately after his season ended. Perry contends: In essence, they're paying Choo as though his post-prime spike season of 2013 was sustainable. It wasn't, and he somewhat predictably came hurtling back to earth in 2014.
That isn't a fair statement. Through May 6th -- Choo's only fully healthy month-plus of the season -- he batted .370/.500/.554 (194 wRC+), which, although not reflective of what we should expect from him by any reasonable measure moving forward, is more indicative of his capabilities than the .213/.298/.331 (75 wRC+) triple slash line he produced after that date, post-injury. The Rangers are going to eat a lot of money on his contract over its last couple seasons, but that was the original point: They're paying him for the short-term, for their championship window.
Elvis Andrus remains one of the more polarizing Rangers, if for nothing else that he isn't an offensive specimen and for some people are shocked by this fact. I've written it numerous times that Texas isn't paying Andrus to be an impact force in the lineup. They invested in him for everything other than his offense. Some look at $120 million like it's a lot of money, but stretched over eight years, it really isn't. Especially not now.
Still only 26, Elvis is getting into his money seasons ($15 million AAV) where he is being paid as a +2.5-win shortstop. He is never going to hit even 10 home runs in a season, nor will he drive in as many as 80 runs. That doesn't make him a bad investment. Over the last two years Andrus has delivered basement-level offensive production (.267/.321/.332 [79 wRC+]), and even that has been worthy of +4.1 fWAR.
In 2018 and 2019 Andrus has opt-out clauses in his contract; there's a far greater chance he exercises one of them to cash in more money, as opposed to the common logic -- that he is some sort of anvil dragging down Jon Daniels and Texas's payroll.
Dayn Perry is an exceptionally bright man with valid points where the Rangers are concerned. In this instance, though, he misses the boat. Money is an issue for Texas this winter, but with the FSSW television money flowing in it's less of a problem than it would be for most teams in MLB.
Also to keep in mind is where the Rangers sit on the win curve. What Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo do on the field in 2019 and 2020 is less important than what they do in 2015, and '16, and '17, where Yu Darvish is under contract and Derek Holland and Martin Perez follow.
There's a chance Texas look ugly by the time Fielder and Choo's contracts are ready to expire. But Jon Daniels acquired them knowing that full well. They're here to win a World Series before Yu Darvish leaves town, something that will justify all the money they won't be worth way down the road.