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Rangers shift focus after Ohtani chooses Halos

MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers woke up on Friday morning looking for at least one more starting pitcher for their rotation. That is still the case after hearing the news that Japanese right-hander Shohei Ohtani intends to sign with the Angels.

"We're disappointed we weren't Shohei Ohtani's choice, but wish him the best in Anaheim," general manager Jon Daniels said. "He impressed us on and off the field at every turn. However, had he asked our opinion, we would have suggested the National League. The upside of this pursuit is that it really brought our group closer together. The entire organization joined in."

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers woke up on Friday morning looking for at least one more starting pitcher for their rotation. That is still the case after hearing the news that Japanese right-hander Shohei Ohtani intends to sign with the Angels.

"We're disappointed we weren't Shohei Ohtani's choice, but wish him the best in Anaheim," general manager Jon Daniels said. "He impressed us on and off the field at every turn. However, had he asked our opinion, we would have suggested the National League. The upside of this pursuit is that it really brought our group closer together. The entire organization joined in."

The Rangers pursued Ohtani hard. Assistant general manager Josh Boyd and scouts Joe Furukawa and Hajime Watabe put in months -- if not years -- into the Rangers' efforts and the club sent eight people to a meeting with Ohtani and his agents earlier this week. The Rangers had $3.535 million in international slot money available for the pursuit, but were not able to close the deal.

Video: MLB Now on Ohtani reportedly heading to Halos

"Josh Boyd, Haji Watabe, and Joe Furukawa had us as plugged in as you could hope," Daniels said. "From there, our scouts worked tirelessly. Our front office, medical, and development groups put a ton of thought and creativity into how best to utilize a unique talent, how to support him, and what the impact would be on our club.

"Our business side rose to the occasion in a big way. The marketing, production, and graphic arts groups were absolute stars in this process. Their ability to take our vision and package it in a way worthy of the passion behind it was something to behold."

The Rangers now move on with the Winter Meetings beginning Monday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

The Rangers have signed right-hander Doug Fister and left-hander Mike Minor to go into a rotation that already includes left-handers Cole Hamels and Martin Perez. They have also acquired rookie right-hander Ronald Herrera from the Yankees and are considering the possibility of moving reliever Matt Bush into the rotation.

The Rangers will add more starting pitching before the offseason expires and may continue even into Spring Training. The unknown is if the Rangers are looking for another proven starter for the front of the rotation, or if they will continue to buy in bulk for depth.

The list of free agents who are proven starters for the front end of the rotation includes Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb. After that it comes down to each team's evaluation of an individual pitcher.

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The Rangers had Minor high on their list even though he pitched as a reliever for the Royals in 2017 after missing two years with a shoulder injury. They were the only ones to pursue him as a starting pitcher.

"We have been fairly targeted," Daniels said in a Winter Meetings briefing on Thursday. "It's not a blanket deal. We are not interested in every guy out there. We are pretty specific in what we are looking for. But we are glad to have reached agreements with two guys high on our list."

The Rangers have not sat idle while Ohtani tried to make up his mind. They have been in contact with the agents of Arrieta, Lynn, Cobb and almost every other starting pitcher on the market. Daniels said the conversations have been at varying levels.

"We've had some conversations that have gone deeper than others," Daniels said. "I really couldn't handicap it right now as far as timing. A lot of that is individual basis and other areas. We don't have anything in the queue right now."

But Daniels made it clear that the Rangers have put out offers that are only awaiting a yes from the other side.

"We wouldn't put an offer out there if we weren't prepared for the answer to be yes," Daniels said.

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.

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