The Rangers are not only moving into a new ballpark, they are getting closer to finishing the rebuilding process they began two years ago.
General manager Jon Daniels suggested that it may be time for the Rangers to compete at the top of the free-agent market. It is part of the Rangers' offseason discussions: how aggressive they want to be in pursuing starting pitcher Gerrit Cole, third baseman Anthony Rendon or other potential free agents who can make an immediate impact.
“Where exactly it goes, it’s way too early to say,” Daniels said. “Our goal quite simply is to get better.”
Daniels met with reporters Monday while spending the week at the annual General Managers Meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz. The meetings are considered the preliminary round for the Winter Meetings that will take place from Dec. 9-12 in San Diego.
“We are going to explore as many options as we can to improve the team,” Daniels said. “That includes exploring the top of the market, whether that’s this winter or next winter. We have signed top free agents before. I expect we will again. It could be this winter. But we are looking for the right fits and what makes the most sense for us given all the factors involved.”
Agents are also attending this week’s meetings, allowing general managers to accomplish the first step of the offseason toward pursuing free agents: express interest.
The Rangers also need starting pitching, and Cole, again, is the best available. But there is no doubt the Rangers have at least expressed interest in Stephen Strasburg, Madison Bumgarner, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Zack Wheeler, Cole Hamels, Jake Odorizzi and many others. When Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported at least 10 teams have inquired about right-hander Kyle Gibson, it reinforced the obvious that this is the time of season for clubs to express interest.
“It’s all related,” Daniels said. “At some point we are going to have to make choices. Right now, we are trying to sort through what our best options are. We have an idea of where we would like to go, but you have to have more than one option. It’s a competitive market.”
The Rangers move into Globe Life Field next season, a state-of-the-art $1.2 billion facility that will include a retractable roof and air conditioning. They are counting on that to be a selling point in their pursuit of free agents.
“From a recruiting standpoint, it can only help when you are talking about climate control and the creature comforts and the advancements in our clubhouse that will help guys get on the field and stay on the field,” Daniels said. “We have always been a family friendly spot, it will definitely only get better with the things we can offer the players. From a financial resource, it is only going to help, clearly, but also from a physical facility that players are only going to want to be a part of.”
But Daniels cautioned against the idea of making a big splash in the free-agent market just because of the new ballpark.
“If the player fits our plan, then the building is secondary at that point,” Daniels said. “Signing a player from a marketing plan rather than a baseball plan is generally a bad idea. Those usually don’t work out well.
“Last couple of years we didn’t spend much time at the top of the market. We weren’t in those games, we are going to be in those games. There is a level we want to get to. I can’t sit here and tell you how it is going to play out.”