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Rotation top of mind for Texas in offseason

Rangers seek multiple starters, to consider all options
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' primary goal this offseason is to acquire lots of starting pitching. The first question: By trade or via the free-agent market?

"All of the above, as to how we are going to approach it," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We are not going to eliminate any options; I don't think we are in any position to. We need multiple guys. That's how we'll approach it."

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' primary goal this offseason is to acquire lots of starting pitching. The first question: By trade or via the free-agent market?

"All of the above, as to how we are going to approach it," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We are not going to eliminate any options; I don't think we are in any position to. We need multiple guys. That's how we'll approach it."

Sleight of hand could also be useful. The Rangers have a monumental task ahead of them, because they must build that staff with some creative economic financing. The Rangers elected not to make a $17.4 million qualifying offer to free-agent pitcher Andrew Cashner, a sign that they must spend their resources wisely if they are going to fill three spots in the rotation plus upgrade their bullpen.

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The Rangers' targets are shrouded in mystery, and so is the question: How are they going to pay for it?

"Our budget will be more in line with where it was in 2016 rather than 2017," Daniels said. "In 2017, ownership really came to us and said, 'Listen, we really want to take advantage of the team here,' and they really encouraged us to make some acquisitions while holding on to some young players. If anything, the 2017 payroll was an aberration on how high it got."

Payroll calculations can be tricky, but the Rangers should have some flexibility this offseason, with the potential departures of Cashner, Mike Napoli, Carlos Gomez, Jason Grilli, Miguel Gonzalez and Tyson Ross. That amounts to $40 million that the club can allocate elsewhere.

But this is also a club with many holes to fill. The Rangers' whole offseason may rest on the ability to lure Japanese free-agent star Shohei Ohtani under a to-be-determined set of rules without draining an excessive amount of financial resources.

Otherwise, the Rangers will have to be creative to address their needs this offseason and piece together anything resembling a contender for next year.

"I think we are on record of five straight years of record payrolls for this organization," Daniels said. "We are going to have a top-10 payroll, whatever it ends up being. It will be plenty for us to spend and make good decisions."

Free agents: RHP Cashner, 1B Napoli, CF Gomez, RHP Gonzalez, RHP Grilli; RHP Tony Barnette, RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx

Arbitration eligible: LHP Jake Diekman, RHP A.J. Griffin, IF Jurickson Profar, RHP Nick Martinez, RHP Keone Kela, OF Ryan Rua

Biggest potential FA loss: The Rangers need pitching, and Cashner was one of their top three starters.

Potential FA targets: Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta are going to be at the top of everybody's free-agent list. Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn are right there with them. There are scouts and executives who say Cobb is the one to get this winter. Former Rangers right-hander Miles Mikolas is coming off three outstanding years in Japan and wants to return to the Major Leagues. His could be an interesting free-agent situation.

Wild-card scenario: The Rangers are focused on pitching but could choose to upgrade their outfield defense by signing free-agent center fielder Jarrod Dyson.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Texas Rangers