Restoring the rosters: No. 14 – Texas

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
No. 17 – St. Louis
No. 16 – Florida
No. 15 – San Francisco
The Rangers fare surprisingly well here, given their apparent struggles to produce pitching. They actually developed a strong rotation, only to allow other team to reap the benefits.
Rotation
Ryan Dempster
John Danks
Edinson Volquez
Aaron Harang
Doug Davis
Bullpen
C.J. Wilson
Ramon Ramirez
Scott Feldman
Nick Masset
Darren Oliver
Scott Eyre
Derek Holland
Volquez went 3-11 with a 7.20 ERA as a Ranger, while Davis was 21-21 with a 5.09 ERA. None of the other three starters ever pitched for the team, and only Volquez brought a fair return when moved.
The bullpen is nice, too, in part because of Ramirez’s presence. He signed with the Rangers in 1996, pitched for the team in the Dominican Summer League in 1997 and then didn’t resurface until 2002, when he played in Japan.
Based on his performance this year, Feldman should be in the rotation. However, I’m not completely sold on him as a starter going forward. He’d still be the obvious choice to move into the rotation if anyone gets hurt. However, Holland and Tommy Hunter remain in reserve as well.
Lineup
CF Julio Borbon
2B Ian Kinsler
1B Mark Teixeira
DH Carlos Pena
RF Edwin Encarnacion
3B Hank Blalock
C Taylor Teagarden
LF Scott Podsednik
SS Rich Aurilia
Bench
DH Travis Hafner
C Ivan Rodriguez
INF Tug Hulett
OF Fernando Tatis
Most wouldn’t guess it, but the Rangers scored more points for pitching than for hitting in these rankings. Kinsler, Teixeira and Pena qualify as stars, but they may be the only above average regulars. Decisions loom everywhere else.
Catcher: Teagarden’s future versus Pudge’s past. I’ll take the youngster, which is what the Rangers seem to be doing right now.
Third base: Blalock, Chris Davis and Encarnacion are all defensively challenged and inconsistent offensively. Blalock seems like the best option at the moment if he’s fit to handle the position, but Davis should be superior going forward.
Shortstop: The biggest problem area. Aurilia and Hulett were the choices, and while Aurilia’s shortstop days should be over, Hulett is really more of a second baseman.
Right field: This is where I struck Encarnacion. I think it makes a lot of sense to try him in the outfield anyway, and he does have the arm for right.
Center field: Borbon’s defense makes him the better option than Podsednik, even if he’s not ready to hit like Podsednik has this year. Then again, Podsednik didn’t seem to have much chance of hitting like he did this year.
Left field: Podsednik, Tatis, John Mayberry Jr., Kevin Mench, Laynce Nix and Brandon Boggs were the options. Podsednik probably won’t ever be this good again, but he still might be the class of that group.
Bench: Hafner and Davis were the options as the team’s top pinch-hitter. Ideally, there’d be room for both, but neither has any outfield experience at all.
Summary
I didn’t expect the Rangers to place this well when I started putting together these rankings, but a rotation full of No. 2 and No. 3 starters is able to make up for some significant lack of depth on offense. The actual Rangers, though, are working on just their second over-.500 season of the decade. There’s plenty of blame to spread around. Former GMs Doug Melvin and John Hart both made plenty of mistakes, as did Jon Daniels when he first took over. Owner Tom Hicks opened his wallet in a huge way for Alex Rodriguez and Chan Ho Park and then set the Rangers back years by deciding to turn the team into a mid-market club. Also, let’s save a little blame for those who approved the design of The Ballpark. Developing pitching has been a nightmare for the Rangers, and they’ve typically overpaid for what they’ve brought in through free agency and trades. A kinder environment could have resulted in some wildly different Rangers teams over the last 15 years.

Report: Dexter Fowler will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after lining out during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.

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Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.

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Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.

Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.

Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.

Braves acquire Luke Jackson from the Rangers

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 16:  Relief pitcher Luke Jackson #53 of the Texas Rangers  throws during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros at Globe Life Park on September 16, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. Texas won 14-3. (Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images)
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Tommy Stokke of RanRag Sports reports that the Braves and Rangers agreed to a trade. According to ESPN’s Keith Law, the Braves will receive pitcher Luke Jackson from the Rangers in exchange for pitchers Tyrell Jenkins and Brady Feigl.

Jackson, 25, is under team control through 2022. He has logged only 18 innings in the majors, yielding 14 runs on 22 hits and eight walks with three strikeouts. While Jackson has struggled with control, the Braves likely see upside because his fastball sits in the mid- to high-90’s.

Jenkins, 24, is also under team control through 2022. The right-hander made eight starts and six relief appearances in his first major league season in 2016, putting up a 5.88 ERA with a 26/33 K/BB ratio over 52 innings.

Feigl, 25, was an undrafted free agent and was signed by the Braves in 2013. The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and briefly rehabbed in rookie ball this past season.