The Rangers made the first significant deal of the Jon Daniels era on Wed night, trading 2B slugger Alfonso Soriano to the Washington Nationals for CF Brad Wilkerson, OF Terrmel Sledge, and starting pitching prospect Armando Galarraga.
Wilkerson hit leadoff for the Nats last year, and didn't exactly flourish in the role. However, he routinely draws 80+ walks per year and is far more discerning at the plate than Soriano. Sledge is a bench player at best, has had injury problem recently, and has tested positive for steroids in the past. Galarraga didn't exactly light things up in A ball last year. He's probably going to join the DVD boys in Frisco to start the year, and we'll see where it goes from there.
As for Soriano, he never met a pitch he didn't like, and lost the leadoff spot as a result. He does have power for an infielder and produced offense that will have to be replaced. His fielding had improved somewhat from his Yankee days, but a sharp grounder to second was always a bit more dramatic than it should have been.
The Rangers have a 2B prospect (Ian Kinsler) who may move into the big-league lineup this year. An addition to the wealth in the outfield makes another trade a significant possibility. Kevin Mench, Laynce Nix, or Wilkerson could be moved to (hopefully) bring some pitching in return.
Soriano was going to get a ton of dough in arbitration this year, so the move should save some dough, which Big Dumb Tom had better spend rather than pocket. Wilkerson is a Boras client, so we should enjoy his presence this year and next, then wave bye-bye to him after his contract is up.
All in all, this looks like a good move, as long as it isn't the last one we see this off-season. We may (MAY) have found a leadoff hitter, but the rest of the team's needs are yet to be addressed.