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Success breeds continuity for Rangers

Daniels, Levine rewarded with contract extensions
MLB.com @TracyRingolsby

With a slew of management changes in the last 14 months, fresh off a season in which they lost an American League-most 95 games, and with a budget that won't allow any high-priced offseason quick-fix moves, what the Rangers needed was a statement of stability from ownership.

And they got it on Friday.

With a slew of management changes in the last 14 months, fresh off a season in which they lost an American League-most 95 games, and with a budget that won't allow any high-priced offseason quick-fix moves, what the Rangers needed was a statement of stability from ownership.

And they got it on Friday.

General manager Jon Daniels and assistant Thad Levine, both of whom were headed into the final year of their contracts, were given multi-year extensions, reinforcing that the men who pay the bills in Arlington aren't going to overreact to a season gone bad.

Daniels and Levine oversaw the rebuilding of an organization that led to the most successful five-year run in Rangers history from 2009-13, which included the first two World Series appearances, and they are going to be given a chance to repeat that feat.

Video: OAK@TEX: Daniels shares thoughts on '14 season

It's not like the contracts were knee-jerk reactions. The idea was first broached early in the 2013 season.

The timing of the finishing up the details, however, is perfect for an organization that saw Hall of Fame and Texas legend Nolan Ryan resign at the end of last season, manager Ron Washington quit because of personal issues in early September and front-office cornerstone A.J. Preller leave in August to become the general manager in San Diego.

"[Ownership] made it clear in the past negotiations that they stood by us in the thick, and this is an statement that they stand behind us in thin,'' said Levine, who has turned down chances to pursue several general manager jobs with other teams in recent years, including with the D-backs this fall. "We don't take [the extensions] lightly. The fact they stayed by our side is a strong statement on their behalf.''

But why wouldn't the ownership stand by Daniels and Levine.

Daniels was the youngest general manager in history when he was hired nine years ago at the age of 28, and remains the youngest current general manager today, 16 days younger than Jeff Bridich, hired last month as the general manager of the Rockies.

Daniels, however, ranks sixth in seniority among the game's 30 general managers, behind Brian Sabean, (18 seasons, Giants), Billy Beane (17 seasons, A's), Brian Cashman (17 seasons, Yankees), Dave Dombrowski (14 seasons, Tigers) and Doug Melvin (13 years, Brewers).

And Daniels has a resume that is as good as, if not better than, most of his elders.

In the first 49 years of existence of the franchise, which began as the expansion Washington Senators in 1961, there had been only three postseason appearances, and not only did the Rangers never advance past the first round of the playoffs, but they had won only one of the 10 games they played.

They, however, not only made it into the playoffs in three of the last five years, but appeared in the 2010 and 2011 World Series, and have compiled four of the top seven winning percentages in franchise history during the last five years.

And it is that resume that Rangers ownership is focused on more than the struggles of the past season, in which it cannot be ignored that the roster was ravaged with injuries.

The Rangers used the disabled list 26 times, nine players being out for 100 or more games. They set a Major League record with 64 players on the active roster over the course of the season. And a team that won only 67 games set an AL record with 23 different pitchers earning at least one victory.

It's not like there is a snap-of-the-fingers fix, either.

The Rangers have been big spenders in recent years, but not this offseason. Having subsidized the operation of the franchise in recent years, ownership is looking to get back to breaking even. Projections by MLBTradeRumors.com have the Rangers obligated for $118 million in salary for players currently on the roster, and indications are the team isn't going to exceed last year's $133 million payroll.

That doesn't leave much room for Daniels/Levine to maneuver. Particularly with some major long-term obligations, like the six years remaining on the contracts of Prince Fielder ($144 million, but the Tigers will chip in $30 million over the final five years) and Shin-Soo Choo ($114 million).

It's why the Rangers, who would love to add a run-producing left fielder, have pretty well conceded they aren't in the running for Cuban defector Yasmany Tomas, who is expected to break the Cuba signing record of $72.5 million that Rusney Castillo received from the Red Sox last year.

Daniels and Levine, however, have been down this road before. The Rangers, after all, filed for bankruptcy back in 2010, before the current ownership group took over, and even with limited funds the front office had put in place that team that was headed to back-to-back World Series.

Now, Daniels and Levine get to do it again.

And they are being given time to get the job done.

Tracy Ringolsby is a reporter for MLB.com.

Texas Rangers