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Daniels sticking with plan, keeping open mind

Darvish still available, but Rangers aren't ready to break bank
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- Rangers president of baseball operations and general manager Jon Daniels said Yu Darvish paid the check when they had dinner in December.

"That was a first," Daniels said. "Six years of lunches and he never paid."

ARLINGTON -- Rangers president of baseball operations and general manager Jon Daniels said Yu Darvish paid the check when they had dinner in December.

"That was a first," Daniels said. "Six years of lunches and he never paid."

It doesn't appear though that Daniels is willing to pick up a much bigger tab this winter. Darvish remains available on the free-agent market, along with Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn, but Daniels isn't veering away from his winter-long stance concerning a reluctance to pursue a top-of-the-rotation pitcher.

"I think it is unlikely for a variety of reasons," Daniels said. "We are not going to close the door on a chance to add premium talent. You always explore it. But if I had to handicap it, I don't think it's highly likely."

The Rangers went into the offseason needing to acquire three starting pitchers, and they have done that. They signed free agents Doug Fister and Mike Minor, and they traded for Matt Moore.

That may be it. Daniels said the Rangers will try to add depth. But it appears the market will have to change significantly if the Rangers are to add another front-line starting pitcher.

"I don't want to rule anything out, but we are not close to adding anybody," Daniels said. "But I would expect, at a minimum, we would increase the depth of the staff."

Video: Rangers to focus on youth, depth signings

Daniels said the Rangers are trying to be realistic about their short- and long-term goals.

"A lot of it points to what we said from Day 1," Daniels said. "We are not going to go all-in, spending big dollars this year, nor were we going to be looking to trade all of our young players. This is a winter where we wanted to commit to playing a lot of our younger guys."

That means taking proven veterans Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Robinson Chirinos and Shin-Soo Choo and mixing them in with Nomar Mazara, Delino DeShields, Joey Gallo and Rougned Odor. It also means taking a hard look at Willie Calhoun, Drew Robinson and Ronald Guzman and looking one more time at Ryan Rua, Jurickson Profar and Brett Nicholas.

The rotation of Cole Hamels, Martin Perez, Fister, Moore and Minor still has some question marks, especially with a lack of depth. But the Rangers have enough young power arms among their relievers to have a chance for a strong bullpen.

"We considered everything, from all-in to pulling back," Daniels said. "We felt this was the wisest decision as to where we are. We are very realistic about the team, the division, the lansdscape. There are other clubs that are at different points and are in the all-in point of the cycle. That's going to create some challenges for us during the season. I get it.

Video: Rangers general manager on team's offseason needs

"The reality is: Do we go to camp with a chance to win? I believe we do. Do we need some guys to develop the way we believe they can? Absolutely."

Daniels said the Rangers' approach could change as their young offensive players establish themselves at the big league level and their farm system finishes restocking -- especially with pitchers -- at the upper levels.

"We have always tried to be realistic as to where we are and make decisions based on that," Daniels said. "We have a long-term plan, but you also have to adjust to the moment, not only your own club, but where the market is. As we factored all that it, it made most sense to play our own players at the big league level and preserve our flexibility, give ourselves the option of making decisions in the next couple of trade cycles, whether it is July or next offseason.

"I think we will have different landscape and different options at that point. Patience isn't the most fun thing, and it isn't the most attractive thing from a fan standpoint, but it's the most prudent thing, and that is where we are at."

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.

Texas Rangers