In an ongoing offseason series, we'll examine some key questions facing the Rangers as they try to rebound from a disastrous 2014 season.
Question: What should the Rangers do with Alexi Ogando?
There hasn't been a more up-and-down player in recent Rangers memory than pitcher Alexi Ogando. The converted outfielder exploded onto the scene in the Rangers' breakout 2010 season when he emerged as an elite setup man for then-AL Rookie of the Year closer Neftali Feliz.
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Since then, pretty much everything has gone wrong, and in the wrong direction for the lanky right-hander with a fierce fastball and filthy slider.
Ogando was moved to the starting rotation — at his own prodding — in 2011 and looked to be making the right decision when he rushed out to a hot start and actually earned an all-star selection before hitting a wall thanks to his increased workload after the break and fading into oblivion as a flammable reliever.
In 2012, Ogando was back in the bullpen as an effective, versatile reliever and then was put back in the starting rotation in 2013, suffering the same ending as 2011 thanks to injury. He hit the disabled list multiple times in 2014 as a reliever before eventually being shut down for the season after never being able to find his effectiveness.
Now, what do the Rangers do with Ogando, who's eligible for arbitration for the second time? To keep him, the Rangers will likely have to pay in excess of $3 million, and for what? At this point, Ogando can't be trusted for much and definitely nothing beyond a middle-relief arm. Granted, that's a valuable role, but the Rangers' bullpen is actually very deep right now and will also be getting back the services of Tanner Scheppers in 2015.
What the Rangers have to decide is if they want to give an electric arm, yet untrusted pitcher in recent years, more than $3 million to hope he can catch on in the middle of a bullpen full of cheaper guys. You'd hate to see Ogando go elsewhere and re-discover what made him so great in 2010 (1.30 ERA in 41 2/3 innings), but you'd also hate to be tied to him at a large amount for a middle reliever and see his career path continue.
Ultimately, the Rangers have plenty of bullpen arms who are as good, if not better than Ogando has been recently, and about four or five of those could be had for the same price you'd have to pay Ogando. Seems like a pretty easy call to me.