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Status of injured players affects Texas' decisions

Daniels mulls options heading into Winter Meetings

SAN DIEGO -- The Rangers are in San Diego for the Winter Meetings. Now what? They trade for a starting pitcher. They find another catcher. They make a big move that nobody expected. They do nothing.

That's the question general manager Jon Daniels is mulling after his arrival in San Diego and his indecision rests on the unknown status of the Rangers' many players who are recovering from injuries.

If Daniels knew that everybody will be healthy and at their best this season, he might be inclined to be more aggressive this offseason. But nothing is guaranteed when it comes to injuries so Daniels, for the first time this winter, expressed some hesitancy about his offseason approach.

For example, the Rangers know that there are a number of pitchers available by trade who can be free agents after the 2015 season. That list includes David Price of the Tigers, Ian Kennedy of the Padres, Jordan Zimmermann of the Nationals and the Reds' Mike Leake and Mat Latos.

But the Rangers would have to unload some prominent Minor League prospects to obtain one of those pitchers. They may be hesitant until they are 100 percent certain that their own players, such as first baseman Prince Fielder, outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and pitcher Yu Darvish, will be at their best come Opening Day.

The Rangers are getting good reports on all their injured players. But they still could be reluctant to make the big deal at this point in the offseason.

"It's a fair question if the timing is right," Daniels said Sunday evening. "It's a matter of timing."

It could be the timing is not right because the reality is the Winter Meetings are just another step in the offseason process. Email and text messages alone are enough for general managers and agents to stay in contact 24/7 without having to sneak through the hallways of a hotel. But it does allow Daniels to meet face-to-face with agents and officials from other clubs, and that certainly has the potential to push forward a number of deals.

"We have had a lot of dialogue so I am hoping some things pull together this week," Daniels said. "We have been engaged with agents, maybe not the top-of-the-market guys but guys who can fit roles on our club."

The Rangers have middle infield depth, from veteran Elvis Andrus to rookie Luis Sardinas and prospect Hanser Alberto, but that may not be enough to land the starting pitcher that they covet. To get a true impact starting pitcher, Texas will likely either dip deep into its farm system or show a willingness to spend serious money in the free-agent market.

To this point, the Rangers have expressed reluctance to do either, but they are not in San Diego to sit on the beach, feed the elephants at the zoo or inspect the Pacific Fleet anchored nearby.

Whether it be actual deals, more rehashing of the Rangers' winter plans or some juicy Trot Coffey-like rumors springing to life in the hotel lobby, the Winter Meetings still command the attention of any baseball fan who has had enough of the Baylor-TCU college football playoff debate.

Rangers manager Jeff Banister will also make his national debut with his press availability Monday. All Major League managers spend some time with the media during the Winter Meetings along with the daily press briefings held by each general manager.

All this in addition to tweets and comments at the end of each story, allowing fans to express their opinion about what should, or should not, happen this week.

So tune in, log on and come aboard. The baseball fleet has arrived in San Diego.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger.
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