Now that the offseason is here, the mailbag will appear weekly throughout the winter, with a few exceptions, instead of every other week. So keep the questions coming. Thanks.
Could Thomas Diamond earn the fourth- or fifth-starter slot with a strong/overpowering spring showing?
-- Bob H., Grapevine, Texas
Right now -- before the Rangers make any moves -- the rotation starts with Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla. Matt Harrison ranks as the leading candidate for the third spot, followed by Scott Feldman and Brandon McCarthy. Then comes a group that consists of Dustin Nippert, Kason Gabbard, Luis Mendoza and Eric Hurley. Diamond falls in after that bunch but could certainly move up quickly with a strong spring.
Manager Ron Washington has said that only Millwood and Padilla have a spot secure for next year. Why not secure one for Harrison?
-- Jose R., Fort Worth, Texas
It's hard to imagine Harrison not being in the Opening Day rotation based on what he did this season. But all of this is premature because the Rangers most certainly will be aggressive in adding starting pitching from the outside this winter.
Do you think the Rangers could strike a deal for Justin Verlander during the offseason, considering his value may be down? The Tigers could use a third outfielder and a catcher. Maybe we could give up David Murphy and Jarrod Saltalamacchia for Verlander.
-- Paul B., Dallas
Now that's being aggressive. If the Tigers even hint of moving Verlander -- doubtful at best -- the Rangers need to be on the phone. Murphy and Saltalamacchia would be a good start, but the Rangers would likely have to add young pitching to the deal.
What is going on with young Hurley? He pitched decently for a month and got hurt. Now you don't hear anything about him whatsoever, where is he?
-- Aitor U., Clermont, Fla.
The Rangers shut him down because of a sore right shoulder. He is rehabbing in Arizona and should be ready for Spring Training. He'll compete for a spot in the rotation but could begin the season at Triple-A Oklahoma.
With the productivity I have seen out of Taylor Teagarden, what are the chances of him being the starting catcher in 2009?
-- Jake E., Kauffman, Texas
Prediction: the Rangers will include Gerald Laird in a package for pitching and go into the season with Teagarden and Saltalamacchia as their catchers. Max Ramirez will be at Triple-A.
If Murphy is the first name brought up by the Rays for Edwin Jackson, then I say let's start talking. Would you rather there be another reliable bat in the Texas lineup or a reliable arm in the rotation?
-- Bland P., Dallas
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Murphy has a chance to be an excellent run-producing outfielder, but if the Rangers can get a proven young starting pitcher for him then it has to be considered. The Rays could be a good match.
What odds would you place on the Rangers landing CC Sabathia this offseason?
-- David N., Dallas
Based on what team president Nolan Ryan, general manager Jon Daniels and owner Tom Hicks have said, the Rangers have no desire to get involved with Sabathia. He could end up getting more than $20 million annually.
Do you think the Rangers have a shot or will attempt to sign someone with the caliber of Paul Byrd or Jon Garland for next year?
-- Jimmy K., Houston
It depends on the price but both should be of interest to the Rangers on a two-year deal. They might command more. Byrd has had a couple of opportunities to come to Texas and doesn't appear interested.
With the World Baseball Classic back next spring, how do players get on a team? Do you think Michael Young will participate knowing the injuries he has had this year?
-- Neta A., Longview, Texas
The team is handpicked by Major League Baseball and the Players Association. Young has made it clear that he wants to play.
Is there a possibility of trading Hank Blalock? To me, it doesn't seem like he has played first base to his potential. It seems to me since returning from his injury, he is apprehensive about getting to a ball hit his way.
-- Kathy S., Cleburne, Texas
That's being pretty tough on a guy who just moved to the position during the middle of the year. The Rangers have to decide if they're going to pick up Blalock's option and if they're going to re-sign Milton Bradley. In my opinion, they have to bring at least one of those two back. They can't afford a double-hit to their offense when the focus will be on pitching this offseason.
Do you think the Rangers might take the same approach with Neftali Feliz and Derek Holland as teams like the Mariners (Brandon Morrow), D-backs (Max Scherzer) and Yankees (Joba Chamberlain) have with some of their top pitching prospects by having them start out in the bullpen when they first come up?
-- Brad M., Abilene, Texas
There is probably a better chance of Feliz than Holland, who is the more polished starting pitcher.
Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez will be a free agent next season. How interested do you think the Rangers will be in signing him?
-- Ken B., Seattle
The Rangers don't appear eager to pay huge sums of money for a one-inning pitcher. Rodriguez would be a great addition, though.
Do you think Bradley for Micah Owings would've made sense at the Trade Deadline?
-- Drew T., Plano, Texas
Owings was shut down for the final two months of the season because of right shoulder soreness. I'd rather have the chance to re-sign Bradley or get free-agent compensation, instead, if he leaves.
Do you think that the Rangers could maybe trade Marlon Byrd and a young prospect for the Royals' Alex Gordon, or maybe trade Millwood and a young prospect for Kansas City righty Zack Greinke?
-- Nick S., Oklahoma City
Not with Byrd and/or Millwood in the deal. The Royals would demand at least two premium young players for each of them.
Is Chris Davis eligible for the Rookie of the Year Award, considering the injuries to Murphy and the Rays' Evan Longoria?
-- Alex E., Waxahachie, Texas
Davis is definitely eligible, but the award is going to come down to either Longoria or Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.