Rangers mulling extensions for young core

Gallo, Mazara, Leclerc headline list that could receive offers

February 18th, 2019

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers are having internal discussions about approaching some of their younger players about long-term contracts before Spring Training is over, something that annually happens this time of year.

Outfielders and and right-handed pitcher would be the players most likely to be approached. The Rangers brought up the subject with Gallo and Mazara's agents last spring, but didn't get far.

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"It is something we have discussed internally," general manager Jon Daniels said. "I think the idea of keeping some of our young group together for a long period of time is appealing. It is a matter of finding a willing partner and finding common ground."

Mazara has three years of big league experience and can be a free agent after the 2021 season. He avoided an arbitration hearing earlier this winter by agreeing to a $3.3 million salary for 2019. Gallo has not yet reached an agreement for this year and can't be a free agent until after the 2022 season.

The Rangers have two goals when attempting to sign young players to long-term contracts: One is to cover their three arbitration-eligible years without going to a hearing and the other is to get a player under contract for at least 1-2 more years before he is eligible for free agency.

signed a six-year, $49.5 million deal at the end of Spring Training in 2017. He would have been a free agent after 2020, but that was pushed back two years with a club option for 2023.

First day talk

The Rangers had their first full-squad workout on a cold Monday morning in Surprise. Before they took the field together, manager Chris Woodward delivered his keynote address for the season. He said he spoke for "15-20" minutes.

"I got to say what I wanted to say and speak from the heart," Woodward said. "A lot of guys already know my expectations and vision for moving this team forward. I just tried to make it as authentic and as real as possible. Nothing about results, more about the attitude and vision moving forward on what I see this team becoming and how much work we have to do.

"It doesn't matter what people think on the outside. It is that internal belief and they already have that. I'm optimistic because they already have it. There has been a lot of success in this organization and this group believes in each other. They have a strong bond, and now we have to fine-tune it and just keep building on it."

Hammel leads throwing

Veteran right-hander was among those who threw a bullpen session Monday. It wasn't the first of his career. Hammel has made 298 Major League starts in a career that goes back to 2006, the most of any of the 40 pitchers who are in Rangers camp.

Hammel is in camp on a Minor League contract after going 12-27 with a 5.59 ERA over the past two seasons with the Royals. But he was 25-17 with a 3.79 ERA with the Cubs in 2015-16, so the goal is to get back to that level.

Hammel said a couple of problems hampered him in Kansas City. One was not being able to put away hitters consistently with two strikes. The other was being too reliant on his slider, as opposed to his slower curveball and changeup. If Hammel can get back to pitching the way he did with the Cubs, he can be an alternative if something happens to one of the top five starters.

"It's up in the air," Hammel said. "I'm not saying I'm going to win a job and I'm not saying I'm an afterthought. Go out and earn a spot and show what you can do."

Rangers beat

• "Major League Baseball seems to think guys over 30 can't play. Some of those guys are still in their prime. It's a shock to me they won't trust guys over 30 and try to go younger instead. Guys over 30 can still play and compete and help you win games." -- Veteran outfielder , 30, who joined the Rangers as a free agent on a Minor League contract Monday.

• Infielder has been doing pitcher fielding practice early in camp, but will be working mainly with position players now that full-squad workouts have begun. He has not yet begun any serious work toward pitching.

• Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced Monday that he is retiring after the 2019 season, and , who played under Bochy from 2012-18, called him a "sure-fire" Hall of Famer.