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MLB Hot Stove Roundup: What’s Happened Since the Fielder-Kinsler Trade?

By Ben Ozur

With the exception of an eventual Robinson Cano signing, this blockbuster trade will most likely end up being the headline of the offseason. But other moves have since been made. Here are the other miscellaneous moves that have been made since the trade (in chronological order):

The Royals sign LHP Jason Vargas. Though many believe this was an overpay (as we will see with other signings later), this was a good move for the Royals. It adds depth to a rotation that already has James Shields and Jeremy Guthrie, and it fills the void of the probably-departing Ervin Santana. He is a solid three-or-four-starter who will give the Royals a veteran who can give innings – something that the Royals find pretty valuable. I think this will set the tone for other KC offseason moves that will allow them to be a real threat for a Wild Card spot this year.

The Mets sign OF Chris Young. See article here.

The Cardinals trade 3B David Freese to the Angels for OF Peter Bourjos. These two guys are both coming off tough years, but these two guys have both showed promise in the past. Also, it fills holes for both teams. The Angels desperately needed a third baseman, after getting the worst third base production in the MLB. However, David Freese was only a league average hitter last year, so it wasn’t a huge improvement. With Peter Bourjos, he brings extra depth to centerfield already occupied by Jon Jay (I assume they will platoon, or maybe Bourjos will get the larger share). They can both afford to part ways with their old players; the Angels have JB Shuck to use in leftfield, and the Cardinals now have room for top prospect Kolten Wong to start at second base (Matt Carpenter will move to third base). This is a close call, but I give the edge to the Cardinals in this trade.

The Yankees sign C Brian McCann. By signing the clear-cut best catcher on the free agent market (and one of the top catchers in the league in general), this was easily the biggest move of the offseason for the Yankees (with no disrespect to the trading of Chris Stewart). He is one of the best offensive catchers in the league, and he has been said to be a good guy to have behind the plate. However, his production, albeit potentially due to injury, has faltered over the past two seasons. Though he is definitely a top catcher in the league, it may be because of the weakness of the position as a whole. He is being paid this much because he is one of the best at what he does, but I don’t think he’s worth that money. Also consider that he will probably be a DH by the end of this deal, which decreases his value even more. Short-term, this deal will probably work out for the Yankees. In two years, I believe it will be a regret.

Brian McCann made headlines last week, signing with the Yankees (Via Bronx Baseball Daily)

Brian McCann made headlines last week, signing with the Yankees (Via Bronx Baseball Daily)

The Cardinals sign SS Jhonny Peralta. Aside from the controversy due to the PED usage, it’s hard to deny the great deal the Cardinals got. Peralta is a well above average offensive shortstop (he has shown that throughout his career, even before his suspension-filled 2013 season) and arguably the best shortstop on the market (close with Stephen Drew). It also fills a gaping hole for the Cardinals, as thy received the worst production from their shortstops in the MLB in 2013 (primarily Pete Kozma). This was clearly a good signing, but of course, there’s the controversy. Though you may not like the rule of how short the suspension is, you have to deal with it. He was told to sit out for 50 games and he did. He served his punishment, and that should be the end of it. Anyway, why should the Cardinals be criticized for the signing? It’s not like they’re condoning his decision to take PEDs. I get that people are still peeved about this, but in terms of this signing, it shouldn’t be seen as a factor of how good it truly was.

The Dodgers sign RHP Dan Haren. A $10M deal for a pitcher who hasn’t had even a league average season for a pitcher since 2011? I get it; he’ll probably be the fourth starter for the Dodgers, and they have all the money in the world to spend. But that doesn’t mean they should just throw it away. They should’ve been more resourceful with that money. There are better pitchers on the market, and they’re probably going to make less (i.e. Bartolo Colon, Paul Maholm, and others on the trade market). Not too good of a signing in my opinion, but still, there’s no such thing as a bad one-year deal.

The Twins sign RHPs Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. This was certainly a forced issue. Ricky Nolasco – okay, solid pitcher, good fit for the Twins in that ballpark, but for over $11M AAV (average annual value)? Phil Hughes – there is no justification in this signing. He has never posted an ERA under 4 in a season as a full-time starter, and he’s making $8M a year? I get it – the Twins are desperate for pitcher, coming off a year where their starting staff collected a cumulative ERA over 5, easily the worth in the MLB. But the last few times they’ve tried to get pitchers (Vance Worley and Mike Pelfrey, namely), they’ve been disasters. I understand it’s a huge park in Minnesota, but then why are all of their pitchers doing so poorly? Finally, signing two guys to big contracts when they aren’t anywhere close to competing is far beyond me. These signings make no sense whatsoever.

The Athletics sign LHP Scott Kazmir. Nice comeback story for Kazmir last year with Cleveland, after pitching the previous season with the Sugarland Skeeters of the Independent League. His ERA hovered around 4 last year, which is respectable, and he posted nice strikeout numbers for a starter. But can he do it again? The A’s surely think so, considering the $22M contract they gave him. This was a risky signing, but a good risk in my opinion.

(UPDATE: The Athletics have also traded INF Jemile Weeks and a player to be named to the Orioles in exchange for AL saves leader Jim Johnson)

The Tigers trade RHP Doug Fister to the Nationals. There were rumors that it would be Max Scherzer being traded by Detroit, but they chose Fister instead. Fister was arguably the best fourth starter in the MLB (pitching behind Scherzer, the Cy Young award winner; Justin Verlander, a former Cy Young award winner and MVP, and Anibal Sanchez, the ERA champion in the AL). Since coming over to the Tigers, Fister has shown much consistency, maintaining a very respectable ERA of about 3.50 in each of his years there. This will prove to be a major upgrade to an already great Nationals rotation, clearly. The Tigers will not reap the benefits of this trade immediately, as the three players they got back in return (Steve Lombardozzi, Ian Krol, and Robbie Ray) are all fairly young. At least for now, it clears a space for Drew Smyly, and they still have minor league pitching depth; so this wasn’t as big of a loss for the Tigers as it is a gain for the Nats.

Other worth-mentioning notes. The Royals extend GM Dayton Moore for two years. Ted Lilly, the 15-year veteran of 7 MLB teams, has retired. The Mets continue to show interest in Bronson Arroyo and Curtis Granderson. And Finally, the Yankees and Robinson Cano remain $80M apart in contract negotiations.

(UPDATE: The Boston Red Sox have signed catcher AJ Pierzynski to a one year, $8.25 million contract)

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Ben Ozur is an absolute baseball guru. He is a huge Mets, Jets, Knicks and Islanders fan whose life revolves around fantasy sports.

Mets Outfield Gets Young-er

By Dan Lagnado

The New York Mets spent money on a free agent! I repeat, the Mets have spent money! It was reported last week that the Mets signed outfielder Chris Young (no, not the one that pitched for them a few seasons ago, but the other one). Young played last season with the Oakland A’s but spent seven of his eight seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Young is a right-handed hitter who has the ability both to hit for power as well as use his speed on the base paths. However, in the past two years, Young has struggled. He hit .200 and .231 in 2013 and 2012 respectively while combining for 26 homeruns and 81 RBI. In 2010 alone he hit 27 homeruns and 91 RBI with 28 stolen bases. His past two down seasons aside, Young still has career averages of 24 homeruns, 73 RBI and 20 stolen bases. The Mets are hoping that he can return to these kind of numbers and give a boost to an outfield in need.

The Mets locked up Chris Young to a one year deal (via USA Today)

The Mets locked up Chris Young to a one year deal (via USA Today)

I don’t think this is a bad deal for the Mets. That said, it is not the only move to make and does not answer every outfield question. Young is a solid defensive outfielder with more assists in his career than errors. It’s unclear where he will be playing but he has experience at all three outfield spots, though most of that in centerfield. Even in his subpar seasons Young has had success against left-handed pitching making him at worst a platoon outfielder. At best, Young will be able to regain his 2010 form and become a significant part in a Mets lineup in need of both power and speed.

One thing that I think was a mistake for the Mets was the price. Young signed for one year, which limits risk and was a technique we saw last year with Marlon Byrd. This allows the Mets not to be tied down to a long-term deal with a player who may not contribute. However, the one-year will cost the Mets $7.25 million, making Young the highest paid player that isn’t named David Wright. This is a large monetary commitment to a player who could end up only being a platoon outfielder.

All in all, this move has a chance to pay-off for New York if Young can return to All-Star form. However I would look for them to still sign another outfielder, possibly a left-handed bat in case a platoon is needed. This lineup is hardly a finished product and much of the roster is still in flux. However, this is a nice fairly low-risk signing in terms of years and it is good to see the Mets getting involved so early in the free agency process when last year they didn’t sign a free agent until almost February. I would look for a few more free agent signings from this team as well as a potential trade or two in the works as the team continues to look to the future, though the a much nearer future than in years past.

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Dan Lagnado is studying communications, law economics and government at American University. He’s a fan of both the Mets and Jets and has been writing about sports for four years. You can follow him on twitter at @dlag1995

Curtis Granderson to the Mets: The Pros

By Ben Ozur

With the recent news that Curtis Granderson is meeting with the Mets, we weigh the pros and the cons in this two-part series. To see the cons, click here.

Could it be, the Mets are making a big splash in the free agent market? In almost any other season in recent history, this would be a laughable statement. Not this year. With the big contracts of Jason Bay and Johan Santana, among others, expiring, the Mets have a decent amount of money to spend. They must be cautious to not put themselves in a similar situation to the one they just escaped from. They gave big contracts to Bay and Santana when they had the money to spend, and they didn’t really pan out. This offseason, the Mets are making it clear that they would like to be more aggressive on the free agent market. Top free agents, including Cano and Ellsbury, have been nearly ruled out. They could go after other top-of-the market guys, like Shin-Soo Choo or Stephen Drew. But what about Curtis Granderson?

This is a guy who is not far removed from superstar status. Beginning his career with the Tigers, Granderson was seen as an excellent catalyst for Detroit for many years. He hit for a high average, played elite centerfield defense, and had excellent speed. After being traded to the Yankees in a three-way trade with the Tigers and Diamondbacks in the 2009-10 offseason, some of this changed. His average fell a bit, defensive metrics didn’t favor him as much (though they are very difficult to measure), and he wasn’t quite racking up as many stolen bases (though it was still well above league-average). But what he was doing was hitting bombs, and plenty of them. 24 in 2010 (in an injury-plagued season), followed by back-to-back 40-homer seasons. In 2011, he finished in 4th in the AL MVP race but won the Players Choice Award for the Most Outstanding Player in the AL. Talk about a superstar.

Could this be the future for the Mets? Of course, number 14 is retired by the Mets for Gil Hodges, so Granderson would have to change his number (Via MLB)

Could this be the future for the Mets? Of course, number 14 is retired by the Mets for Gil Hodges, so Granderson would have to change his number (Via MLB)

2013 is the season that everyone will make people question his abilities going forward. It was an injury-plagued season in which he only played in 61 games – such a small sample size that the numbers aren’t too significant. But let’s keep in mind: these were freak injuries; he got hit by two pitches in the arm. Not easy injuries to recover from and still play at full strength. As long as these weren’t nagging injuries, like a hamstring or concussion, I’m not too concerned going forward.

Now, what does this all mean for his free agent stock? He just turned down a qualifying offer from the Yankees to remain with them for at least one season at a salary of $14.1M. (Whether or not he should’ve accepted the qualifying offer is up for a different debate.) He did this in order to obtain a multi-year contract. He’s still just 32, which isn’t too old, so a three or four year deal isn’t unreasonable. I don’t know if he’ll be a centerfielder wherever he goes, but he showed last year that he could handle all three outfield positions pretty well. With a career OPS of .828, being an excellent defender in the outfield, and averaging 17 SBs a season, there aren’t too many things not to like about Granderson. I’d expect somewhere around a three year/$50M contract for Granderson.

Now, going back to the original question: would the Mets be willing to get a top free agent like Granderson? If the Mets really want to get a guy who has shown that he can handle both sides of the ball very well, why not? He won’t command the dollars that other top free agents are asking for, and he fills a HUGE void for the Mets in the outfield. He’s been on playoff teams, so he has the experience and the veteran leadership that the Mets are seeking. Should the Mets make it to the postseason in a few years – which they seem to be set up for – I think Granderson can be a key piece in making a run

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Ben Ozur is an absolute baseball guru. He is a huge Mets, Jets, Knicks and Islanders fan whose life revolves around fantasy sports.

Curtis Granderson to the Mets: The Cons

By Dan Lagnado 

With the recent news that Curtis Granderson is meeting with the Mets, we weigh the pros and the cons in this two-part series. To see the pros, click here.

If there is one thing that Mets fans want this offseason, it’s for Sandy Alderson to spend the money that everyone claims that the Mets have. It was recently learned that free agent outfielder Curtis Granderson will be meeting with team officials. Many fans on hearing this news probably uttered something like, “ugh finally it’s about time they signed a free agent”. Of course it’s important to note that this is not an indicator that a deal is imminent. However there have been a few people who have predicted Queens to be a potential landing spot for Granderson. He is not terribly expensive and fills a position of dire need for the Mets, the outfield, as well as providing a power bat in the middle of an anemic lineup.

The Grandyman can? Going after Curtis Granderson could prove to be a disappointment for the Mets (Via USA Today Sports)

The Grandyman can? Going after Curtis Granderson could prove to be a disappointment for the Mets (Via USA Today Sports)

All that said, this signing, should it happen, is not an indicator of clear skies to come. First, Granderson will turn 33 next season and probably expects to get a multi-year deal. Will Granderson still be able to play the outfield at a high level at age 36 or 37? Next, Granderson would still need to figure out the transition to a corner outfield spot. This is not confirmed of course, but I would presume that the Mets would like to keep Juan Lagares in centerfield after the spectacular defensive numbers he put up last year. In his limited playing time last season (Granderson missed 101 games with injuries) Grandy still logged more innings in center than in left or right field combined. In addition, the Mets are pursuing Granderson most likely for his power as a hitter. He had two consecutive seasons with 40+ homeruns and 100+ RBI in the Bronx in 2011 and 2012. However he was aided by the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium, and Citi Field is a significantly larger ballpark. Finally, in his last full season in 2012, he played to his lowest WAR (wins above replacement) ever (the exception being 2004 and 2005 where he only played 56 combined games). It may be better for the Mets to look elsewhere in free agency or perhaps to make a trade for an outfielder. Many people have reported that the Mets have been active in talks and so obtaining an outfielder could be easy enough to do.

Given these statistics it is easy for disgruntled and pessimistic Mets fans to see the potential for another free agent bust being paid more than he deserves. We will just have to wait to see how it plays out.

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Dan Lagnado is studying communications, law economics and government at American University. He’s a fan of both the Mets and Jets and has been writing about sports for four years. You can follow him on twitter at @dlag1995

The New York Mets: Who’s Left?

By Sam Iryami

Matt Harvey who? After his season-ending torn UCL, he is now out for the entire 2014 season. Harvey put up outstanding numbers with the Mets this past season, having a 2.27 ERA, 191 SO, and winning nine games in 178.1 innings (26 starts). To add on to these great stats, he was the starting NL pitcher in this season’s All-Star Game. As it is was first “real” major league season, he really showed what he was made of in the time that he pitched. Harvey was “lights out,” throwing on average nine and a half strikeouts per nine innings. The Met offense had to do a lot better of a job, after leaving Harvey with twelve no decisions. Now that Matt Harvey will not be pitching for the 2014 season, the Mets have to put up big stats on the other side of the game. The other option besides offense is another pitcher to fill the “Harvey” role on the ball club.

The loss of Matt Harvey will have some pretty big effects on the 2014 season for the Mets (Via Reuters)

The loss of Matt Harvey will have some pretty big effects on the 2014 season for the Mets (Via Reuters)

Who’s left to fill that role? Well, there’s that guy named Zach Wheeler, the number one pitching prospect last year. The rookie had an ERA of 3.42, won seven games, and had only 84 strikeouts. Evidently, his stats last year were not nearly as outstanding as Harvey’s, which ranked in the top ten of all pitchers. Is Wheeler a solid number one starting pitcher? It seems like Wheeler is the only pitcher on the Mets that has a chance to become the number one pitcher in the Mets’ starting rotation.

Zach Wheeler hopes to fill Harvey's role (Via Newsday)

Zach Wheeler hopes to fill Harvey’s role (Via Newsday)

Jon Niese, Zach Wheeler, and Dillon Gee are solid starters for the Mets, but they are not anywhere near Harvey. On average, they have a combined 3.89 ERA, 115 strikeouts, and eight wins. In a significant less number of innings, Harvey was able to crush these numbers. Without Harvey in the rotation for the upcoming 2014 season, it leaves the Mets rotation as follows:

1-Zach Wheeler

2-Jon Niese

3-Dillon Gee

4-Jeremy Hefner (TJ)

5-Carlos Torres (FA)/Jenrry Mejia (FA)/ Daisuke Matsuzaka (FA)/ Aaron Harrang

The Mets have to rely on these pitchers in place of superstar Matt Harvey. It’s going to be hard, especially with not a top offense in the league and awful relief pitching.

This offseason, the Mets are left with a ton of cap room, being so because of the absence of Mr. Johan Santana, or should I say “No-han.” His skyrocketing $24 million is no longer a burden for the Mets. This extra cap room could now be used to acquire some top prospects, or even some all-star free agents. Jose Reyes is not a free agent, but he has shown his interest in playing for New York once again, already buying a home in Brookville, NY. He would be a great addition to the roster, adding tremendous speed and enthusiasm to the Mets’ offense. Justin Morneau, Shin-Soo Choo, Nelson Cruz, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Robinson Cano are also possible free agents that the Mets could look into to boost the Mets’ offense and gain the runs they will give up in the field due to the loss of Harvey this year.

Although no one on the Mets’ roster could fill the spot of Harvey, multiple pitchers have a chance to be on the Mets. Pitchers on the market: Bartolo Colon, Masahiro Tanaka, Bronson Arroyo, and Tim Hudson. However, these pitchers may not be interested in playing in the big city or even on the Mets. The organization could definitely look into them, along with many others, to help fill the role of Harvey and add some extra experience and skill to the team as well. The Mets have to be cautious on spending when attempting to procure these great players.

Prospects are not ideal for the Mets. Since Harvey is out for next year, they need offense and pitching quick! Some pitching prospects the Mets have right now: Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero. These great players should be starting for the Mets in the near future. However, Signing some free agents or making some trades for big players might be the route the Mets want to take with all the extra cap room they have from Johan’s contract expiration.

Who do you think the Mets should be interested in this offseason? Leave comments and stay tuned to dabuzzza.com to learn about the Mets’ offseason pickups and trades. Dabuzzza is a great way to learn about many other sports besides baseball such as basketball, football, and hockey. Like us on Facebook and follow us on twitter to learn more.

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Sam Iryami is a die-hard Mets, Jets, and Knicks fan. His favorite athletes are David Wright and Carmelo Anthony. Sam is looking for a future career in business and finance.

Top Five MLB Teams That Need To Take Out Their Checkbook For 2014

By: Sam Breiter

Baseball in 2013 was a season to remember to say the least. Whether you are talking about the unbelievable breakout season from Chris Davis, who led major league baseball with 53 homeruns, or if you are discussing the legacy of a man named Mariano, you can clearly see how extraordinary this year in baseball was. Just three days ago, the Boston Red Sox organization gained the title of World Series Champions. For now, they will be noted as the best team in baseball, but April is just around the corner and now every team will have fair game to work on improving their team to become potential champions for 2014. Some teams may look at their 40-man roster today and feel a sense of comfort and confidence for next year, knowing that they may be one small signing or trade away from being contenders. Other teams may look and find that there are many holes that need to be covered, and they have a lot of work cut out for them this winter. Noting, there are some organizations that have more available money for the elite free agents than others. For example, the Houston Astros may need an outfielder, but do not expect them to spend $20 million on a five tool superstar, but rather a player with mediocre talent since they are many years away from being competitive.  What I am about to review is the top five teams who need to make moves this offseason in order to have a fighting chance in 2014. I took into consideration the available funds the team has, what they need, and their desire to improve to stand a chance next year.

The Yankees hope that bringing in the top free agents will lead them back to the promised land and their 28th World Series Championship (Via New York Times)

The Yankees hope that bringing in the top free agents will lead them back to the promised land and their 28th World Series Championship (Via New York Times)

#5 Kansas City Royals- After being regarded as one of the worst teams in baseball after their great run in the 70’s and 80’s, the Kansas City Royals in 2013 really found themselves as a team. Prior to the 2013 season, the Royals had not been over .500 since 2003, and before that 1993. After spending the last couple of years trading away talent to improve their farm system, the Royals have reached that essential milestone where they have developed a group of young prospects into MLB superstars. Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, and Eric Hosmer, to name off a few, had a key role in allowing the Royals to win their 86 games this year. The Royals were just seven games back of the division-winning Tigers, and missed a wild card spot by five and a half games. So what’s it going to take to get over that hump? What do the Royals need to do to go back to the glory days of when they were one of the most feared teams in baseball? I have one answer to that question and that is pitching. If we look at the pitching rotation for 2014, for the team right now you see the names James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Bruce Chen, and two question marks. Ervin Santana, who had an above average year, is now a free agent, and the Royals never really had a true number five guy. Shields and Guthrie provide a great one two punch, yet it is fair to note that Chen has always time after time proven himself to be unreliable with injuries and inconsistent success. With this said, the Royals, in order to get over that hump, need to sign two starting pitchers that will work long innings and keep the rotation intact. The best fit for the Royals would include pitchers who have shown their talent such as Ubaldo Jimenez, Dan Haren, A.J Burnett, Matt Garza, or Hiroki Kuroda. Additionally, they might want to try to get back Santana, and maybe go for some of the lower demand pitchers including Scott Baker, Mike Pelfrey, Ricky Nolasco, or even Jason Vargas.  With this added pitching help, the Royals can easily run away with a wild card spot, or perhaps even be the American League Central Division champs.

#4 Texas Rangers- Ever since 2010, the Texas Rangers have always been looked upon as, if not the best, one of the best teams in all of Major League Baseball. Their dominance in hitting the long ball, getting on base, and sustaining an above average pitching rotation and bullpen has allowed their success to last. In 2010, the Rangers made the World Series and fell flat on their face against the San Francisco Giants. The following year, after one of the most dramatic World Series ever, the Rangers fell just short losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in a seven game series. The following year, they won the wild card and missed their shot of going anywhere in the playoffs, and this year they did not even get a wild card spot. Clearly it may look as if this team is declining, but do you really expect the Oakland Athletics to come up with another 96 win season considering their best player is not even considered a superstar. If the Rangers brought back the same team they had this year, next year it looks pretty likely they would be the favorite to win the division, but down in Texas these fans expect more than a division title. Matt Garza, Nelson Cruz, A.J Pierzynski, and David Murphy, to name a few, are players who will be free agents this year and may just not be a part of the team next year. With this said, pitching (both starting and relief), a left fielder, and a catcher need to be acquired if the Rangers do not want to fall short yet again. In terms of pitching, look for the Rangers to attempt to sign one big name pitcher. I believe Garza will return and they will look to bring Alexi Ogando into their rotation and maybe even sign Roy Holladay if the Phillies part ways with the old ace. In terms of the bullpen, whatever happened to Neftali Feliz? From 2010-2011 Feliz combined for 72 saves, but from injuries the past few years people tend to forget about him. Expect Feliz to be their number one closer in 2014, but do not be surprised if Chris Perez comes in to become either the setup man or closer assuming Feliz does not work to his expectations. Behind the plate, the Rangers have always had power, if we go back a few years to Mike Napoli, or the more current days of Pierzynski. Do not be surprised if either of these players are brought back to the organization, yet I predict Brian McCann will be wearing a Texas Rangers uniform in 2014 because he will get paid the money he deserves, and the Rangers have a better resume of getting deep in the playoffs compared to the Braves. The Rangers have always had big time sluggers in the outfield. The Josh Hamilton/Nelson Cruz combo was one of the best power hitting outfields ever seen on one team. With Hamilton enjoying his money in L.A, and Cruz doubtful to return, do not be surprised to see the Rangers spending huge on a new outfielder. Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Curtis Granderson, Carlos Beltran, and Mike Morse are the best fits for the Rangers if they are willing to spend big on a new outfielder.

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