Rangers to seek finishing touches at Winter Meetings
Pitching, right-handed bat and catching and outfield depth among club's wish list
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are threatening to lay quietly during the annual Winter Meetings that begin on Monday in Nashville, Tenn.
They are operating under the belief they did their heavy lifting last July when they acquired pitchers Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman from the Phillies, and reliever Sam Dyson from the Marlins. Those moves, among others, were instrumental in the Rangers' second-half surge to a division title and also getting a head start on 2016.
But if that was indeed the heavy lifting, and if the Rangers do adhere to their vow of not getting involved in high-priced free-agent spending, there are still a few light touches to be applied to the 2016 roster.
It may or may not happen in Nashville. General manager Jon Daniels points out the Winter Meetings are only a part of the long offseason process. But it does allow the Rangers to have face-to-face meetings with other clubs as well as representatives of free agents that are of interest.
MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2015 Winter Meetings from the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, with the Network launching 35 hours of live Winter Meetings coverage on Sunday at 7 p.m. CT. Fans can also catch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, as well as the announcement of the Hall of Fame Pre-Integration Era Committee inductees on Monday at 10 a.m. CT and the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday at 9 a.m. CT.
Catching: The Rangers re-signed Chris Gimenez at the non-tender deadline on Wednesday. Right now, he is the backup to Robinson Chirinos, but the Rangers are still thin at catching and would like at least one more candidate to provide depth.
Starting pitching: The Rangers are still interested in re-signing Colby Lewis as long as he has no setbacks in his recovery from surgery on his left knee. They are in the market for one more veteran starter to go with Hamels, Derek Holland and Martin Perez. That would allow Chi Chi Gonzalez, Nick Martinez and Anthony Ranaudo to compete for the fifth spot until Yu Darvish is ready.
Right-handed bat: The Rangers want at least one right-handed bat to balance out a left-handed-heavy lineup. Mike Napoli served in that role in the final two months of the season and the Rangers might re-sign him. Another possibility is Steve Pearce, who can play both first base and outfield.
Center field: The Rangers seem to be set with Delino DeShields, expecially after the decision to non-tender James Jones. The Rangers still might re-sign Jones to a Minor League contract, but they definitely want depth in center field behind DeShields.
Who they can trade if necessary
Starting pitching: It does seem illogical that a team with a stated need for starting pitching would be willing to trade it. But Holland could be used in a significant deal that fills multiple needs, and Martinez might be of interest in a smaller deal for a catcher or outfielder.
Hanser Alberto: The Rangers are getting significant interest in their backup middle infielder. He is an above-average defensive player who is also among the hitting leaders in the Dominican Winter League.
Joey Gallo: Ranked No. 1 in the organization by MLB.com, Gallo is still a prospect despite playing in 36 games for the Rangers in 2015. He hit just .204 for Texas, so the plan is for him to begin the season at Triple-A Round Rock playing third base.
Lewis Brinson: A standout defensive center fielder, Brinson has made considerable strides as an offensive player, although he could still use more development time at Triple-A this season.
Nomar Mazara: Another outstanding young outfielder, he too could use more time in Triple-A before being considered an option at the big league level.
Big contracts they might unload
It was fashionable to write in the first half of last season that the Rangers would be looking to unload Shin-Soo Choo this offseason. He is due $102 million over the next five years, but his second-half resurgence has quelled such speculation for now.
The Rangers had a payroll of approximately $141 million in 2015. It will likely be in the same vicinity in 2016, although with some flexibility either way.