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11/07/10 12:01 AM ET
After Lee, Rangers weigh free-agent options
Front office aware of needs as period to negotiate opens
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Left-handed ace Cliff Lee is still the Rangers' highest priority, and they say they want to re-sign designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero.
Lee may be tough. There are already reports that the Yankees are going to move quickly on him. But there are plenty of other free agents out there for a club boldly professing to have the financial resources to be aggressive this offseason. Texas can now officially begin talking to all free agents, and for once, the team doesn't have to choose from the second tier.
Here are 10 free agents the Rangers will at least consider signing:
-- He is a switch-hitting catcher who can also play first base and be used as a designated hitter, and he hit .302 with 20 home runs and 79 RBIs in 127 games for the Red Sox in 2010. Martinez, who will turn 32 in December, doesn't have a great throwing arm but works hard on his defense, blocks balls well and works well with pitchers. He is also a strong clubhouse presence. It may take a four-year deal to sign Martinez, and the Tigers are among the teams high on him.
-- The Rangers are among the teams that have put in a bid for the 28-year-old Japanese right-hander, who has been posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters. He was 10-9 with a 2.82 ERA in 28 starts this season and was the best pitcher in Japan in 2008, when he was 21-4 with a 1.87 ERA. Japanese pitchers have a mixed record in the Majors, but Colby Lewis made a successful transition this past season after spending time in the Far East.
-- Beyond Lee, Garland may be the best of an average group of free-agent pitchers. He was 14-12 with a 3.47 ERA pitching for the Padres, but his road ERA was one run higher than at home. Garland, 31, was 60-38 with a 4.27 ERA from 2005-08 while pitching for the White Sox and Angels, so he has had success in the American League.
-- He had his best year to date with the Blue Jays, hitting .281 with 20 home runs and 66 RBIs in 118 games. The Rangers came close to signing him last year. Defensively, Buck, 30, is considered adequate.
-- Possibly the best power hitter available on the free agent market, Konerko hit .312 with 39 home runs and 112 RBIs for the White Sox this past season after being plagued by an injured thumb the previous two years. He is still an adept defender who probably isn't interested in a full-time gig as a designated hitter. The Angels and D-backs are likely to be interested in Konerko, a big-time team leader with the White Sox.
-- The former Grand Prairie resident was superb for the Yankees as a setup reliever, posting a 0.69 ERA in 24 games after being acquired from the Indians. He had a 6.30 ERA for the Indians in 2010 and was on the disabled list twice. He may seek a job as a closer but could be the power arm the Rangers seek to replace Frank Francisco.
-- This is the kind of guy the Rangers like to take a chance on. He won 22 games and a National League Cy Young Award with the D-backs in 2008 but has missed almost two complete seasons because of right shoulder surgery. He won't replace Lee, but the Rangers are always intrigued by the availability of former impact players.
-- Dunn's strikeout totals are staggering, but all of his other offensive numbers are quite desirable. Since the beginning of the 2002 season, he has struck out more times than any other hitter -- 362 more than the next guy -- but he has also walked more than anybody, and only Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols have hit more home runs in that span. A native of Houston, Dunn played exclusively at first base in 2010 but can also play the outfield.
-- Glaus hit .240 with 16 home runs and 71 RBIs in 128 games with the Braves this past season. He is 34 and could have one or two good seasons remaining as a designated hitter. A career third baseman, Glaus made one token appearance at the hot corner last season, spending the rest of the time at first base. He could complement Mitch Moreland at first while being used mainly as a designated hitter. He's another strong presence in the clubhouse.
-- Crawford may be the best all-around position player on the market. He has been a left fielder for most his career, but his speed would play well at Rangers Ballpark. If the Rangers don't re-sign Guerrero, they could add Crawford, use David Murphy at DH and Julio Borbon as a fourth outfielder. They would lose power but gain athleticism.