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Rangers remain on lookout for added offense

Upgrades remain available as club eyes free-agent market
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- Unlikely has a way of changing into certainty over the course of a baseball offseason, especially since Spring Training doesn't start for another two months.

That's why there still seems to be a chance the Rangers will add a veteran hitter to their lineup -- or to at least compete for a spot in the lineup -- before the offseason is over.

ARLINGTON -- Unlikely has a way of changing into certainty over the course of a baseball offseason, especially since Spring Training doesn't start for another two months.

That's why there still seems to be a chance the Rangers will add a veteran hitter to their lineup -- or to at least compete for a spot in the lineup -- before the offseason is over.

Financial consideration will ultimately dictate what the Rangers will do next, but there is no doubt they have plenty to choose from if they are looking for a proven option at first base and/or designated hitter.

Hot Stove Tracker

General manager Jon Daniels has been adamant the Rangers are "unlikely" to add a "big ticket" free-agent hitter, which may mean Edwin Encarnacion, Mark Trumbo and Mike Napoli are beyond their financial means despite being obvious fits in Arlington.

But nobody really knows what Encarnacion, Trumbo or Napoli will eventually sign for since they are still quite available on the market. Until they find a home, it is hard to ignore the reality that they would all be a good fit for the Rangers or at least be good for a speculative tweet from some expert. Agents know who needs what and how to make a phone call.

No doubt Texas is pressing the call button as it is gradually turning into a "buyer's market" for the big-bat free agents. Remember, when the Rangers returned home from the Winter Meetings a year ago, almost nobody foresaw Ian Desmond being their center fielder. He didn't sign until the end of February -- and at an easily affordable price for Texas.

Adam Lind and Pedro Alvarez are both left-handed power bats who could at least platoon at first base with Ryan Rua if the Rangers decide Joey Gallo needs more time in Triple-A. Alvarez can also play third base if needed. He had his best seasons with the Pirates when Rangers manager Jeff Banister was the Bucs' bench coach.

Chris Carter is the reverse, a right-handed bat who could pair with Gallo. He hit 41 home runs for the Brewers this past season, although he struck out 206 times and does not rate highly at first base.

Video: ARI@BAL: Alvarez crushes a homer to right field

Chris Colabello, another right-handed hitter, hit .321 with a .520 slugging percentage in 101 games for the Blue Jays in 2015 before being hit with an 80-game suspension this past season for a performance-enhancing drug violation.

From the left side, there is Brandon Moss, James Loney, Luis Valbuena and Logan Morrison. While from the right side, there is Mark Reynolds, Trevor Plouffe and Dae-Ho Lee, who is from South Korea and is good friends with Shin-Soo Choo.

Video: STL@SF: Moss belts a solo home run to left-center

There are also two former Most Valuable Player Award winners on the market in Justin Morneau and Ryan Howard, although both probably fall into the "last resort" category.

Texas isn't professing to be in the desperate stages yet, as the company line states first base will likely be filled internally and designated hitter could be multiple players revolving through the position.

It still seems likely the Rangers will add somebody, whether they choose from the top of the list, go bottom-feeding on Minor League contracts or simply stay patient until the right player becomes available at the right price.

The Rangers went into Spring Training last year appearing set with Mitch Moreland at first base and Prince Fielder at designated hitter. But the truck had barely arrived in Arizona when Texas signed veteran first baseman Ike Davis to a Minor League contract.

There are far better choices on the market this offseason and a bigger need for the Rangers to land at least one of them.

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.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Texas Rangers