With the Yu Darvish decision set to come down by 4 p.m. today, a lot of dominos are about to drop in Arlington with spring training kicking off in about a month and the regular season 2 1/2 months away.
While it's still a pretty solid possibility that Darvish inks with the Rangers, there's some thought out there that the Rangers front office isn't as confident today as they might have been a few days ago with the term of the contract being the hang-up.
If Darvish doesn't sign with the Rangers, it would be likely that the Rangers would bring in aging righty Roy Oswalt. Oswalt had so many great years with the Houston Astros before joining the Philadelphia Phillies' "greatest rotation ever assembled" last season and had a mediocre year in which he battled back problems that have been a persistent problem over the past few years.
There's also a feeling out there that even if the Rangers sign Darvish they will also bring in Oswalt, most likely on just a one-year deal.
The Rangers' starting rotation is already full. If no one is signed and the Rangers choose to go after Prince Fielder and no pitching, they'll still have a full rotation of Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Alexi Ogando with Scott Feldman there as an insurance policy.
What will the Rangers rotation look like if the Rangers bring in Darvish and/or Oswalt, though?
Well, let's take a glance.
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If Darvish is signed — Yu would almost certainly be put at the front of the rotation, which would pretty much just move everyone back a notch and likely move Ogando back to his eighth-inning setup role that he excelled at in 2010 and dominated at in the 2011 postseason. So it would like something like this: Yu Darvish, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison.
If Oswalt is signed — Oswalt is most definitely on the downside of his career and really can't be trusted at this point to pitch an injury-free season, but when he's healthy he's good. This option would also include Ogando moving back to the bullpen to shape things up this way: Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Roy Oswalt, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison.
If Darvish and Oswalt sign — This is where things get really jumbled and interesting. The Rangers would end up being incredibly wealthy in the pitching department and there might be some unhappy campers, most likely guys named Matt Harrison and Scott Feldman, who has gone on record saying he wants to start in 2012 even though that's highly unlikely. Harrison had an underappreciated year in 2011, posting a 3.39 ERA with a 14-9 record. In this scenario, however, Harrison would end up in the bullpen as a long man or a situational lefty. The rotation would like this: Yu Darvish, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Roy Oswalt, Neftali Feliz. Personally, if Feliz is going to be a No. 5 starter, which he would at least start out as in this scenario, he'd be better served in the bullpen but the Rangers insist he's finished as a reliever.
What's your favorite scenario? What's your most likely? How would you shuffle the current rotation? These are all questions Jon Daniels, Nolan Ryan and Ron Washington are going to have to answer pretty quickly.