First, a correction from the last Inbox. I was wrong about pitcher Mark Prior. He is not signed for next season and is not guaranteed to be with the Rangers next spring. That is still to be worked out, and he could end up signing with another club. I misinterpreted what was said about Prior when he originally signed.What is the possibility of bringing Kerry Wood back to his hometown? -- David Hernandez, Dallas
That's a good name, and the Rangers do have interest in Wood.
The possibility of a homecoming might have taken a big hit when the Rangers offered arbitration to reliever Frank Francisco, though. They expect Francisco to accept arbitration and be back as their right-handed setup reliever, negating the need for Wood in that role.
But suppose the Rangers can't re-sign Cliff Lee. They could move Neftali Feliz into the rotation and look for a closer on the free-agent market. Everybody brings up Rafael Soriano, which seems unlikely, but Wood could be a possibility if they do go that route. However, the Rangers expect Feliz to stay in the bullpen at this point.
Soriano and agent Scott Boras are looking for a lucrative multiyear deal. The Rangers, under GM Jon Daniels, generally don't like signing free-agent closers to long-term contracts. They seem constitutionally opposed to the idea.
Wood could be a good fit for the Rangers as a potential closer with both Alexi Ogando and Francisco as potential backups.
Could the Rangers base a trade for Zach Greinke around Tommy Hunter, Martin Perez, and Engel Beltre while excluding Derek Holland? If so, who else might they have to include? -- Willy S., Arlington
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Word is, the Rangers will not trade Martin Perez. He is the one guy they refuse to part with, under any circumstances. So the base involving a trade for Greinke would likely have to include Beltre and Tanner Scheppers instead of Perez. Also, the Royals would probably prefer Holland over Hunter. They can't have both. The Rangers have made it known they could be interested in Greinke, but they are still waiting for the Lee situation to be resolved.
Is there anything to indicate Greinke would be an injury risk later in his career? I wonder if he would not be a better long-term investment than Lee. -- Matt F. Nacogodoches, Texas
Greinke missed significant time in 2006-07 for personal issues revolving around social anxiety, but has never had any major physical problems. He has pitched 651 innings over the past three seasons.
There are two reasons to prefer him over Lee. He is five years younger and already signed for the next two years at a salary of $13.5 million per season. That is considerably less than what Lee will command. On the other hand, trading for Greinke would require giving up significant prospects. Also, Lee has more than proven his value on the postseason stage.
Feliz was Rookie of the Year and has two solid pitches, including an electric fastball. He is a perfect fit as a closer, and his career could last much longer with fewer innings. Why would people think that Feliz should be in the rotation? -- Matt H. McKinney, Texas
There are many ways to find a front-line closer, but No. 1 starters are much harder to come by. When you have a 22-year-old pitching prodigy with an "electric" fastball and two decent-to-above-average secondary pitches, he has No. 1 starter written all over him. If the Rangers knew they were guaranteed of getting 220 innings out of Feliz as a starter next year, they would make the switch immediately and take their chances of finding a capable closer, but when it comes to pitching, nothing is guaranteed.
How does the Rule 5 Draft work? -- Tom B., Coppell, Texas
Every club gets to protect up to 40 players on the Major League roster. All other players are eligible to be drafted, with the exception of players who were signed at age 19 or older and have been in the organization fewer than four years or were signed at age 18 or younger and have been in the organization for five years.
Most of the top prospects in an organization are either on the 40-man roster or haven't been around long enough to require being protected. The Rule 5 Draft is held at the end of the Winter Meetings. If a team drafts a player, it costs them $50,000. The player must then stay with that team for an entire season or be offered back to the old team for half the price.
The Rule 5 Draft is often overblown, but the simple fact is, the list of current players who have changed teams because of it include Josh Hamilton, Johan Santana, Dan Uggla, Joakim Soria, Shane Victorino and the immortal R.A. Dickey.
Other than his age and the fact that signing him would tie up between $10 and $16 million, why are the Rangers so hesitant to offer Vladimir Guerrero to a two-year deal? He had a great 2010 season and it seems as though he fits into the clubhouse perfectly. -- Matt M., Lampasas, Texas
Because it would tie up $10-16 million (annually) if Guerrero signed a two-year deal and was physically unable to perform. You answered your own question.
The Rangers do want Guerrero back. They have also been linked to Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn, but the Rangers, with their new ownership, have been tied to just about every possible free agent and every possible trade scenario that involves taking on massive sums of money. A more likely possibility is letting Konerko and/or Dunn sign elsewhere to set the market, then revisiting the possibility of signing either the remaining one of that pair, Guerrero or Lance Berkman.
Whatever happened to the 1990's Rangers greats such as Will Clark, Rusty Greer and John Wetteland? Are they anywhere in our organization? -- Blake R., Dallas
Greer, a devoted father in Colleyville, works on a limited basis for the Rangers in a variety of capacities. Clark, a special instructor in the Giants organization, was with them in uniform during the World Series. Wetteland spent the past two seasons as the Mariners' bullpen coach, but was replaced this offseason after Eric Wedge took over as manager.
Are the Rangers retooling the Minor League catching situation? It would be nice to have a homegrown long-term guy instead of a series of rentals. -- Clayton G., Vermillion, S.D.
The Rangers have been fanatical about adding catching to their farm system. They may give it more attention than any other position besides pitcher. Kellin Deglan was the second of two first-round picks taken in June and last January they paid $1.3 million for 16-year-old catcher Jorge Alfaro out of Colombia.
Keep an eye on Jose Felix, 22, who reached Double-A last season and played in 27 games at Frisco. Tomas Telis, 19, is also highly regarded, but did not catch last season because of Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. He participated in Instructional League, though, and was healthy.
I like your Q&A column. However, I would welcome it more often. -- Mary H., Tyler, Texas