ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are less than a week away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, but the subject of potential free-agent signings remains a foremost topic of conversation.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels was asked about it on Friday during a conference call normally held this time of year to preview Spring Training. That's hard to do when the list of available free agents includes prominent pitchers Jacob Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Greg Holland among many others. (Yu Darvish appears to be off the board after agreeing to a six-year deal with the Cubs.)
Daniels was asked if there was still a possibility of a major free-agent acquisition before … well, before the whole process is over with.
"I don't think we can rule it out," Daniels said. "But nothing I've said this winter has changed … what our goals are, our eye level, our expectations."
Daniels has said all winter that the possibility of signing another frontline starting pitcher -- i.e. Darvish -- is "highly unlikely." But it still lingers.
There is a possibility that Darvish, more than any single factor, is holding up the free-agent market. He is considered the top free-agent pitcher on the market, and those guys usually sign in November.
The question is if Darvish is still hoping the Rangers will sign him, or the Dodgers, or he just can't make up his mind. Whatever the reason, the free-agent market remains stagnant and the Rangers are trying to stay ready.
"I don't think anybody has ever been in this position," Daniels said. "I'm not sure anybody knows what to expect. We're staying in contact with people. Usually, Spring Training is a slow time for player acquisitions. We need to be prepared for something different."
The Rangers still have one player acquisition to complete. Sources have indicated they reached an agreement with reliever Seunghwan Oh pending a physical, but the Rangers have not made an official announcement.
"At some point, when we have news we will certainly talk about it," Daniels said. "But we have nothing to announce at this time."
Oh is expected to compete for the closer's role. He may even be the favorite for the job. He was an accomplished closer in Korea and Japan, and he saved a combined 39 games for the Cardinals over the past two years.
But the sheer number of free agents still remaining could be a game-changer this spring. Players normally come into Spring Training competing for jobs against other players in camp. This year could be a case of players competing against those in camp and those still looking for jobs on the free-agent market.
Manager Jeff Banister doesn't want his players worried about who is not in camp.
"Our guys need to go into camp and get ready for the season," Banister said. "They need to focus on that. They can't get caught up with [who's] not with us. They need to go out and do the best they can so they're ready to go."