With the Winter Meetings concluded, there are still a lot of big names — well, the ones remaining that didn't sign before the annual meetings — out on the market.
The two guys thought to be the Texas Rangers' biggest targets for their lineup are still very much available, as the Rangers are expected to land either free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo or their own free agent, Nelson Cruz.
Let's see who should be the Rangers' top target in the coming weeks, and remember, Adrian Beltre wasn't signed until nearly a month after the winter meetings in January 2011.
Defense — Choo: Nelson Cruz isn't a great defender, we all know that. But don't kid yourself, he's not the world's worst outfielder either, mainly just because of the hose attached to his right shoulder. But Choo is a plus defender and would be a great corner outfielder.
Hitting —Choo: Well, Choo and Cruz are different players, and Choo is definitely the better when it comes to batting average and on-base percentage. In fact, Choo is one of the best on-base guys in all of baseball and would be a shoo-in to be the Rangers' new leadoff hitter, even though they've said they're ready to roll with Leonys Martin there.
Power — Cruz: Again, this also a no-brainer. Cruz is a power hitter, Choo is not. Cruz has prodigious power, and it's a hunch, but it seems he'll have that same power even if he's off PEDs, especially considering we don't know when he was getting that assistance. But there aren't many guys in baseball with more feared power than Cruz, and he adds a really nice dynamic to any lineup, especially the Rangers' power-hungry one.
Intangibles —Cruz: Known as a streaky hitter, Cruz did away with a bit this past season before being suspended for the final 50 games. He put together a nice, consistent season and finished second on the team with 27 home runs even though he missed the season's last 50 games. And what about his performance on the big stage? Cruz has always been a guy that performs in the clutch and has shined brightest in some of the Rangers' biggest moments. Plus he's familiar with the Rangers' clubhouse and is a well-liked guy in the organization who was contrite after his suspension last year.
Cost — Cruz: Choo is reportedly seeking an eight-year deal and wants Jacoby Ellsbury (which he probably deserves). Cruz is looking for a four-year deal and is three years older than Choo.
Overall —Cruz: Is Choo a better player than Cruz? Sure, there's probably not much debating that. But when you factor in cost and what the Rangers need, Cruz seems like a much more reasonable option. You really hate to give eight-year deals to anyone not named Mike Trout, and Choo just doesn't scream eight-year deal. Of course, Cruz doesn't either, but he's not asking for it.