Daniels not taking anything off table at Meetings
LAS VEGAS -- The Rangers are open for business at the Winter Meetings at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.
The Rangers are looking at free agents, but they are also talking trades with other clubs and it appears nobody on their roster is untouchable. Some might be tougher to trade than others, but the Rangers, as they go through their rebuilding program, are willing to talk about anybody.
That includes veteran outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, who has two years and $42 million left on his contract, but it also includes arbitration-eligible players Nomar Mazara, Jurickson Profar, Delino DeShields and Alex Claudio. It also includes their best starter Mike Minor, top reliever Jose Leclerc and home run leader Joey Gallo.
Phone lines to the Rangers' luxury suite are now open.
"We are going to look at everything through the lens of what does it mean now and what does it mean long term," general manager Jon Daniels said on Sunday. "Probably heavier weight on the long term, so if something made more sense there … we are not looking to move these guys, but we are open on a lot of things."
• Winter Meetings FAQs
The Rangers were 67-95 this past season, so Daniels said the club must keep an open mind. But he is not interested in "tanking." The Rangers' payroll won't be as high as this past season, and they won't be aggressive at the top of the free-agent market. They did not get involved in the bidding for free-agent pitchers Patrick Corbin and Nathan Eovaldi.
But they are still planning to put a competitive team on the field.
"I don't think we are going to put limits on the team," Daniels said. "It's one thing to prioritize right now versus prioritizing a little longer horizon. But you are trying to be successful on both, unless your strategy is to pull all the way back and not try to win. We are not going to try and do that.
"A lot of it doesn't have to be losing 100 games for three years and picking first in the Draft. Just a lot of consistent good decisions and developing our own players. There have been a lot of champions that didn't tank. You look at the way other clubs have been built over time, there is a lot of different ways to do it."
• Hot Stove Tracker
The challenge for Daniels and his staff during the Rangers' rebuild is to line up the young hitting and pitching together. The Rangers are further along with the offensive group of Mazara, Gallo, Profar, Rougned Odor and others than they are with the pitching.
Yohander Mendez and Ariel Jurado will compete for a spot in Spring Training, but the next wave that includes Jonathan Hernandez, Taylor Hearn and Joe Palumbo will need more Minor League development. Another talented group that includes Tyler Phillips, Cole Ragans, Hans Crouse and others could be two or three years away.
By the time all that young pitching talent is ready to make an impact in the big leagues, the Rangers' young offensive talent will be approaching free agency.
"Lining it up is a lot of the challenge," Daniels said. "But it doesn't always go the way you think you want it to go. Guys get hurt, guys move quicker, guys come slower, some guys are late bloomers, some guys take on a role you didn't necessarily expect."
The Rangers could also solve that problem by signing some of their younger players to long-term contracts. Mazara, Gallo and Profar are the most likely candidates.
• Free-agent rumors
"That is something we will evaluate this winter," Daniels said. "It's more of a Spring [Training] timing if we go down that path, but it is something we are going to look at."
• The Rangers revealed on Sunday that Mendez has a fourth option. That means he can be sent to the Minor Leagues again this year without going through outright waivers.
• Veteran pitchers Edinson Volquez and Drew Smyly are both coming off Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery and did not pitch last season. But Daniels said both passed physicals this offseason, and the Rangers are "pretty confident" both will be ready for Spring Training.
"Both guys look really good," Daniels said. "They are having normal offseasons. They are not rehabbing."
• Daniels said the Rangers have been in contact with left-hander Martin Perez. The Rangers made him a free agent this winter by not picking up his option, but there is still some interest in re-signing him.
• Daniels said the Rangers are going to let Isiah Kiner-Falefa focus on catching this winter. He will still bring an infielder's glove to Spring Training, but his time will be devoted to behind the plate.