ARLINGTON -- There were some astute Rangers fans who showed up for general manager Jon Daniels’ question-and-answer session on Saturday. They weren’t shy about the subjects they wanted addressed by the general manager.
Nolan Arenado? Nicholas Castellanos? Starling Marte?
Those were the same questions reporters brought up with Daniels after his session at the Peek at the Park event on Saturday at Texas Live! and Globe Life Field.
Arenado is on everybody’s minds. Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich tried to scuttle all trade rumors earlier this week when he said Arenado would be with the team in Spring Training. Arenado, who initially responded by saying that he felt “disrespected” by people in the Rockies’ organization, ultimately called his comments "out of character" and added that he's "working hard to get better for my teammates and fans."
• Latest MLB rumors, trades and signings
That caused the trade speculation to blow up again. But Daniels doesn’t see the Rangers landing Arenado in a trade this winter.
“I hate to speculate on that, from their standpoint,” Daniels said. “It’s not fun to go through. A great player, if somebody of that caliber was available, we would have conversations. I think it is unlikely.”
The Rangers are looking for more offensive help. A right-handed bat would be preferable, either at first base or center field. That’s why Castellanos and Marte both have appeal.
The Rangers have had conversations with agent Scott Boras, who represents Castellanos. The Rangers see Castellanos as a great fit at first base even though he has never played the position. He has made it known that he would be willing to make that switch from the outfield.
But that doesn’t appear to be happening with just over two weeks to go before Spring Training.
“I would think that if we do make any significant acquisition, a trade is more likely than a free agent,” Daniels said.
And he feels that way because …
“Just the discussions we’ve had make me feel that way,” Daniels said.
Marte is the most intriguing name on the trade market after Arenado. The Rangers are interested and have spoken to the Pirates about Marte. Daniels did not discuss specific players but said the Rangers have spoken to almost every club about obtaining offensive help.
“We have had some dialogue,” Daniels said. “Given the nature of the conversations, it wouldn’t surprise me if some of these continue into Spring Training, from a trade-market standpoint. We are not necessarily close to anything today."
Some other topics addressed by Daniels on Saturday:
Hunter Pence: The veteran outfielder is a free agent and has a proven track record as a right-handed hitter. That might seem to be perfect for the Rangers -- it was last season -- but they need that right-handed bat to be able to play the outfield because they have Shin-Soo Choo as their primary designated hitter.
“You can’t find more Hunter Pence fans here,” Daniels said standing in Texas Live! “The defensive fit isn’t ideal for what we are looking for.”
Mike Minor: Minor is eligible to become a free agent after this season and made it clear Friday he would like to stay with the Rangers with a contract extension. The Rangers are interested but have not begun those discussions.
“We haven’t had any extension discussions at this point,” Daniels said. “That’s more a February or March topic conversation with some guys we may hit on. We’ve got to get our thoughts together.”
The bullpen: Are the Rangers really interested in free-agent reliever Pedro Strop? How about Brandon Kintzler? There are still free agents out there, but Daniels said the Rangers aren’t likely to add another frontline reliever on a multiyear deal.
The Rangers likely will look at adding depth through more relievers signed to Minor League contracts with an invitation to Spring Training.
The bigger mystery may be whether the Rangers are committed to José Leclerc as their closer.
“To the degree we are putting the bullpen together today, I would write him down in the back,” Daniels said. “I think it’s a good conversation for us to have as a group, how everything else plays out -- is that the best for us? On paper, I would expect him to be the guy, but we are going to have more conversations.”
Starting pitching depth: The Rangers have a set rotation with Corey Kluber, Minor, Lance Lynn, Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles. They also have talented young arms behind them in Kolby Allard, Brock Burke, Joe Palumbo, Taylor Hearn and Jonathan Hernandez.
The Rangers would like to give those young pitchers more development time in the Minor Leagues. To do so, they need to add more depth as far as signing experienced starters on Minor League contracts. Daniels said the Rangers had interest in free-agent starter Jerad Eickhoff before he signed with the Padres.
“It has to be the right guy,” Daniels said. “I’d rather go to Kolby Allard than most of the guys who are available to us.”
First base: Right now, the Rangers have Ronald Guzmán as their first baseman. Guzmán, as a left-handed hitter, still has to earn his spot. His lack of a proven track record is why the Rangers have interest in Castellanos.
The Rangers would prefer at least to have a right-handed option. A Nick Solak/Todd Frazier combination could be a possibility.
Frazier was signed as the Rangers’ starting third baseman but has experience at first base. With a left-hander on the mound, the Rangers could sit Guzmán, use Frazier at first base and Solak at third.
“That’s something that could go into Spring Training and later,” Daniels said. “We have some internal options. We’ll keep looking.”
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.