L-R: Nelson Cruz and Mitch Moreland
It's a tough call, and it will most likely get its fair share of detractors, but the best move the Texas Rangers can make right now, with less than two months before the 2014 season begins, is to re-sign Nelson Cruz to a one-year deal and trade Mitch Moreland for big-league pitching.
We've talked and talked about this subject for the past week or so, and it just makes the most sense, and here's why: Cruz's bat in the lineup trumps Moreland's by a longshot.
Alex Rios is a good player, and he's this club's right fielder for 2014. But if given a choice between Rios and Cruz to hit fifth behind Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder, you take Cruz in a heartbeat. It's the same reason the Rangers put Cruz back in the lineup for Game 163 last year after he'd missed 50 games to close the regular season. They didn't expect much from Cruz in terms of production in that game, but they did expect a threat and something serious in the back of the mind of the opposing manager and pitcher.
Cruz gives that fear factor. Rios doesn't. Moreland definitely doesn't.
Simple fact is, there's no room on the roster for those three players. Rios is going to be here, so it comes down to Cruz or Moreland. If the Seattle Mariners offer Cruz a multi-year deal, then you rejoice in their stupidity. But if not, you offer Cruz a healthy one-year deal, somewhere in the $10 million range, and use him as a full-time designated hitter.
Then, you flip Moreland, who has drawn significant interest in the trade market because of his power and price, and a couple of mid-range prospects for a big-league pitcher, possibly a reliever but preferably a starter.
If you do that, your lineup looks something like this: LF Choo, SS Andrus, 1B Fielder, 3B Beltre, DH Cruz, RF Rios, C Soto, 2B Profar, CF Martin. That's a pretty stout lineup that will put runs in bunches.