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Daniels' focus on player growth, not team record

MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- The success of the Rangers' season will not be measured by their won-loss record. General manager Jon Daniels made it clear on Monday that the team's No. 1 priority will be the continued development of its young players.

So far that has been a mixed bag, and Daniels wants it to be better as the Rangers move forward.

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ARLINGTON -- The success of the Rangers' season will not be measured by their won-loss record. General manager Jon Daniels made it clear on Monday that the team's No. 1 priority will be the continued development of its young players.

So far that has been a mixed bag, and Daniels wants it to be better as the Rangers move forward.

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"Obviously, the record is not where we want it to be," Daniels said. "Some positive signs with our young players, some scuffling a little bit. We said from Day 1, it was critical -- the development of these young guys. That has been accelerated by the injuries, but that's the biggest thing we are going to be looking for."

The Rangers went into their three-game series against the Yankees with a record of 18-30 and in last place in the American League West, 12 games behind the Astros.

Daniels is not looking to blame the field staff for the Rangers' poor start, but much of the coaching staff's evaluation going forward will be based on how the young players develop and improve.

"When we take the approach we took this offseason, and on top of that, you get the number of injuries that we've got, I'm not sitting here looking to blame the coaching staff for personnel issues like that," Daniels said. "I think from a coaching-staff perspective, we constantly talk about the development of our young players, some of [whom] are going well, some of [whom] are not, and that's got to be our focus."

The Rangers' poor start makes it seem obvious that they will be "sellers" as the summer progresses and the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline draws closer. Daniels isn't ready to go there yet, but he understands the mindset.

"I don't know how to answer that question, because I have never looked at it like the buyer/seller deal," Daniels said. "You are always looking to get better. Obviously, we are not in a great spot in the standings. That will influence things. You try and take a step back and look at things for this year, next year and the foreseeable future, where you want to be and what is the best way to get there."

The starting lineup against the Yankees on Monday night included seven players 25 or younger: outfielders Joey Gallo (24), Delino DeShields (25) and Nomar Mazara (23); and infielders Isiah Kiner-Falefa (23), Jurickson Profar (25), Rougned Odor (24) and Ronald Guzman (23).

That's the core group the team wants to see make progress through this season. The Rangers want to have a definitive idea of what they have in that group, as well as those to come, going into next offseason.

"We didn't approach this [past] offseason as though we were aggressively making moves to force the issue this year," Daniels said. "I knew we had a little bit of a lack of depth at the upper levels of the system. When you have injuries, that's exposed. But there are some things outside of that. There are some guys that are performing well, and there are some guys that we know are capable of more, and there's definitely a sense of urgency on our side to work with those players and get more out of them."

Some national reports have suggested that the Rangers are open to anything and everything, but Daniels doesn't expect the trade market to really heat up until after the MLB Draft from June 4-6.

"A few conversations here and there, but the reality is, this time of the year most clubs are hunkering down for the Draft," he said. "We are no different."

The Rangers will have plenty to talk about once clubs start focusing on trades and improvements. The Rangers' marquee name is third baseman Adrian Beltre, who is eligible for free agency after the season. But right now he is on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring.

"I hate to talk about specific guys, especially in such a speculative manner," Daniels said. "We will deal with those situations when they come up. I really don't spend any time thinking about trading Adrian."

Cole Hamels is the other prominent player who could draw interest. He can also be a free agent after this season if the Rangers don't pick up his option and instead pay a $6 million buyout. If they pick up the option, he is signed for next season at $20 million. Hamels is scheduled to pitch on Tuesday after being scratched from his last start because of stiffness in his neck.

"I don't know how to characterize what we're open to," Daniels said. "We'll look at what's best for the team this year, next year and beyond. If things make sense, we'll have those conversations."

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.

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