ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have made pitching a priority this offseason, but their first moves were subtraction. The Rangers announced on Monday they declined a $4 million club option on reliever Tony Barnette and decided against a $17.4 million qualifying offer for free-agent starter Andrew Cashner.
The Rangers did pick up a $6 million option on left-hander Martin Perez. But they did not pick up an $11 million option on first baseman Mike Napoli and did not extend a qualifying offer to outfielder Carlos Gomez.
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Cashner, 31, was 11-11 with a 3.40 ERA in 28 starts for the Rangers after being signed to a one-year contract last offseason. He had two short stays on the disabled list because of triceps tendinitis and a strained right oblique muscle.
"Andrew had a good year for us," general manager Jon Daniels said. "Other than the DL stints, he was as consistent as we had all year. It came down to economics ... $17.4 million was higher than we wanted to spend on that spot."
The Rangers "left the door open" for Cashner to return, but he will likely seek a multiyear deal elsewhere. The Rangers have three spots to fill in the rotation behind Perez and Cole Hamels.
The top free-agent pitchers on the market are Yu Darvish, Jacob Arrieta, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb and Jason Vargas. The Rangers are likely to be interested in Lynn and Cobb, but the need to fill three spots may force them to spread their financial resources on multiple acquisitions rather than focus on one of the few elite free agents.
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"It's possible ... I'm not saying we will or we won't," Daniels said. "We are going to explore a lot of things this winter. We wanted to maintain our flexibility. Each player is unique."
The most unique player is Japanese pitcher Shohei Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters and be allowed to come to the Major Leagues next year. But that process is held up while a new working agreement is being negotiated between Major League Baseball and the Japanese League.
"They are still working out the details," Daniels said. "I don't think it's something we have enough information on to base any decisions or plans. We are in the same situation as the other 29 clubs. We are going to go about our offseason, and if a player becomes available, we'll evaluate it."
The Rangers' focus on pitching is why they declined the option on Napoli, 36, and did not give Gomez, 31, a qualifying offer. Napoli is not expected back with Texas next season.
Gomez's return could depend on what the Rangers do with pitching. That is the priority, but Daniels said if the Rangers do add a position player, it would most likely be a defensive center fielder. Jarrod Dyson would be a strong candidate off the free-agent market.
"We feel comfortable with Delino DeShields out there, and we know Drew Robinson can play out there," Daniels said. "We have talked internally, and if we do add a position player, we are going to prioritize defense."
Barnette, 33, spent the past two seasons with the Rangers after coming over from Japan. He was 7-3 with a 2.09 ERA in 53 games in 2016, but slipped to 2-1 with a 5.49 ERA this past season.
"We still have interest in bringing Tony back," Daniels said. "We are still talking to him. We will see where that goes."
The Rangers also announced right-hander Austin Bibens-Dirkx cleared outright waivers and became a free agent. Bibens-Dirkx, 32, was 5-2 with a 4.67 ERA in six starts and 18 relief appearances as a rookie after 12 seasons in the Minor Leagues. The Rangers have offered him an outright assignment to Triple-A Round Rock.
"He is going to look at his options, and we are going to do the same," Daniels said.