FRISCO, Texas -- This really was a Winter Caravan. The temperature was at 34 degrees with flecks of ice and snow on the ground when the Rangers showed up at Dr. Pepper Ballpark for their annual visit to the Frisco Roughriders on Saturday.The weather didn't seem to bother Rangers shortstop
FRISCO, Texas -- This really was a Winter Caravan. The temperature was at 34 degrees with flecks of ice and snow on the ground when the Rangers showed up at Dr. Pepper Ballpark for their annual visit to the Frisco Roughriders on Saturday.
The weather didn't seem to bother Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus. The fact that he was getting ready to take off for a family vacation to London and Paris may have had something to do with his cheerfulness.
Andrus lets little upset him, including when it came time to make a final decision on his 2019 contract. The Rangers lost 95 games last season, and there may be more rough times ahead during the rebuild. But Andrus isn't ready to abandon ship, at least right now.
He decided not to exercise a clause that would have allowed him to opt out of the final four years of his contract. Andrus, who would have been walking away from a $58 million contract, said it was not a tough decision.
"Not really," Andrus said. "Like I mentioned several times, I would love to retire as a Ranger -- that is one of my dreams. It wasn't too hard, especially being hurt the whole year. I knew I wasn't going to take the risk or take the challenge of being a free agent."
It would have been a challenge. Andrus missed over two months with a fractured right elbow and ended up playing in just 97 games, the lowest of his 10-year career. His .256 batting average and .308 on-base percentage were also the lowest of his career.
This is also another slow-moving offseason for free agents. Manny Machado is not the only front-line shortstop still unsigned. Jose Iglesias, Freddy Galvis, Alcides Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria are also waiting to see where they will play next season. Andrus could easily have been stuck in that logjam.
He also has the same opt-out clause in his contract after next season. That's the last one, though. If Andrus declines that one, he is locked in with the Rangers through 2022 -- with a club option of $15 million for 2023.
"We'll see how it goes this year, especially," Andrus said. "I'm really excited for the year. I think it's going to be a challenging one. But after this year, we'll see how it goes. We'll talk about it."
There is one primary reason why Andrus would consider getting out of his contract. Andrus, 30, has been on four division championship teams and played in two World Series. He likes winning, and that could be a challenge for the Rangers in the short-term until they complete their rebuild.
"I don't see it that way," Andrus said. "I am really excited. First of all, it's a new year. Things are going to change, for sure. Chemistry is going to be different. I am really excited for us, especially our rotation."
Right now, that rotation consists of left-handers Mike Minor and Drew Smyly, plus right-handers Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller and Edinson Volquez. Smyly and Volquez did not pitch at all last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, and Miller pitched in just five games while completing his recovery from the same procedure.
"I know a lot of guys have been hurt, [and had] Tommy John [surgery]," Andrus said. "But if you see it on paper, if they are able to stay healthy, that's a good rotation. Not the top one in the league, but pretty good in my eyes."
That's why a little snow and ice did not bother Andrus on a cold Saturday morning in North Texas. He is off to Europe and then to Spring Training, and sees only good times ahead for the Rangers.
"I'm really excited for it because everybody is going to take the next step, and we are already building that chemistry," Andrus said. "Eighty percent of the team has been working out together the whole offseason. We are creating that chemistry and it is going to be huge for us."
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.