Kauf Drops: No Time for Joshing Around

by Todd K | Posted on Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Josh Johnson - Atlanta Braves v Miami Marlins

Image: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

By Todd Kaufmann

Sr Columnist

tkaufmann@sportspagedallas.com

Well, the predictable happened earlier this morning as Cole Hamels decided he was not going to test the free agent waters, perhaps because the deal put in front of him from the Philadelphia Phillies was enough to want him to stick around.

Hamels and the Phillies agreed on a six-year $144 million deal with an option for a seventh year. A deal that I never saw being turned down just because the young left-hander wanted to see what he could get on the open market.

With all that being said, it’s time for the Texas Rangers to move on and look for the option that was always in front of them in the first place.

We can talk about Cliff Lee all we want but we’re just wasting our breath. Sure, the Rangers had scouts in Philadelphia but I think most of us jumped to the conclusion a little too fast. There are players like outfielder Hunter Pence that they could have been watching, a player who helps the Rangers not only in the lineup but also defensively.

But before there can be a Hunter Pence in Texas, the Rangers will look for a pitcher who can slide into their rotation and automatically make them stronger.

According to reports this morning, and rumors that had been circulating for the last few days, the Rangers are apparently talking to the Miami Marlins about their right-hander, Josh Johnson. The last piece that could be sold off in what has been a fire sale for the club, something they and their fans should be used to seeing by now.

This team needs a starter that can make a difference, a guy who can come in for more than two months and give you the kind of performance you would expect from a young, talented pitcher.

The pitchers on the market don’t just stop with Johnson, you have guys like Zack Greinke, James Shields, Francisco Liriano, and, as of recently, Ryan Dempster who looked more than on his way to the Atlanta Braves. Except, apparently Dempster didn’t want to go to Atlanta so he sat on the trade until the Cubs realized their veteran wasn’t going to budge.

There’s too much concern about Greinke’s anxiety problems for him to make any sense here in Arlington, Shields hasn’t exactly been the kind of pitcher he has been before but, come playoff time, maybe that could change, Liriano still has concerns over his shoulder despite striking out 25 hitters over his last two starts, and Ryan Dempster is about the last person Texas would get interested in mostly because of the return the Cubs will be asking for.

Josh Johnson is the one player that makes sense for this rotation going forward. He’s young, controllable past the 2012 season, and he’s a guy the Rangers can sign long term and still have him as a somewhat young right hander.

At this point, Texas may try to pull off the deal without having to give up third base prospect, Mike Olt. Mostly because they would rather keep him in order to send him to Philadelphia to bring Pence back to Texas.

The only concern at this point is whether or not the Rangers want to use Martin Perez in any kind of a trade, especially the way his last few starts have gone. They may be wondering if they can send Derek Holland and possibly Neftali Feliz in a deal to try to hang on to a young pitcher who has shown he belongs.

Where does that leave this team just six days away from the trade deadline? It leaves them with two moves still to make in order to put this team into a position to stay in front of the Los Angeles Angels and a position to not only go back to the World Series but also to do something they haven’t ever done.

Win.

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