The Rangers did so much heavy lifting before the winter meetings that it wasn't surprising they went without a major move during the four-day convention.
But it doesn't mean they are done.
Three players who could really help the Rangers finish out their roster remain on the market and the Rangers figure to be heavily involved with all three: right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (if he is posted by his Japanese team), outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and outfielder Nelson Cruz. The Rangers met with the agents for Choo and Cruz during the meetings, but both are currently seeking deals longer or more lucrative than Texas is willing to agree to.
"Sometimes patience is dictated for you," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We like our team. We would like to continue to improve it, but we don't feel a sense of urgency or desperation to do so. We've put ourselves in position where we can be a little picky. If ((the market) develops later or doesn't develop at all, we still like our club."
It is quite similar to a position in which the Rangers found themselves two winters ago when they waited patiently through a flurry of winter meetings signings by the rival Los Angeles Angels. Then the Rangers outbid baseball to land the negotiating rights and ultimately the services of right-hander Yu Darvish. The Darvish deal wasn't finalized until mid-January.
And two weeks after that, the Rangers flirted with the idea of signing free agent first baseman Prince Fielder before Detroit jumped in with an overwhelming nine-year offer. This year, Tanaka and one of the outfielders is beckoning. If the Rangers land Tanaka, they could then spin off one of their younger pitchers, perhaps left-hander Derek Holland or right-hander Alexi Ogando, in a late-winter deal for a bat.
"I don't expect any more substantial moves," Daniels said. "But that's not to say we aren't looking at them."
--RHP Yu Darvish has been cleared to return to all baseball activities after receiving an injection in his back at the end of the season to alleviate symptoms similar to sciatica. Darvish, general manager Jon Daniels said, will not be behind any of the other pitchers in camp.
--C J.P. Arencibia's signing gives the Rangers a guy who could take over the full-time reins behind the plate if intended starter Geovany Soto struggles or gets hurt. Though Arencibia had a historically bad .227 OBP in 2013, he has power and durability. He has averaged 20 homers and 108 starts per season over the last three years. Also, he ranked seventh in the majors in pitch-framing ability last year.
--INFs Brent Lillibridge, Josh Wilson and Kevin Kouzmanoff and RHP Armando Rodriguez all signed minor league contracts with the Rangers with an invite to major league spring training. Lillibridge and Wilson had part-time utility roles in the majors in 2013. The Rangers could use another middle infield option in addition to UTL Adam Rosales in the event that Jurickson Profar stumbles and the club has to find a fill-in at second base.
--1B Mitch Moreland, who currently is a platoon DH option against right-handed pitching, could be out of if the Rangers add a full-time veteran DH. Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Milwaukee all indicated a level of interest during the winter meetings.
--2B Russell Wilson was selected from Colorado in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft. The Rangers were inactive in the major league portion. Maybe it's more significant that the Wilson in question is also the starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. The Rangers don't have any expectations of talking him into leaving football, but would like to get Wilson to camp to speak to and work out with some of the minor leaguers as almost a motivational speaker. Wilson has indicated he is interested.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We certainly hope that with what he achieved this past season, he can continue to build on it. And if he does, he becomes the guy that we always knew he was. This year was quite an experience for him to learn how to play the game of baseball under control and contribute. He certainly did that as the year progressed. We're looking for big things out of Martin. I think Martin is looking for big things out of Martin, and because he feels like that, I think it will work." -- Rangers manager Ron Washington, on OF Leonys Martin, who stands to be the team's regular center fielder and leadoff hitter.
The Rangers failed to make the playoffs for the first time in four seasons, losing to Tampa Bay in a tiebreaker for the second American League tiebreaker. They are two years removed from the second of back-to-back World Series appearances -- losing to San Francisco in 2010 and St. Louis in 2011 -- and seem to be in need of a shakeup.
BIGGEST NEEDS: The Rangers could use power bats in a number of spots, including designated hitter, left field and right field.
ARRIVALS: 1B Prince Fielder (trade with Tigers), OF Michael Choice (trade with A's), C J.P. Arencibia (signed as free agent from Blue Jays)
DEPARTURES: 2B Ian Kinsler (traded to Tigers), OF David Murphy (free agent, signed with Indians), OF Craig Gentry (traded to A's), RHP Josh Lindblom (traded to A's), C A.J. Pierzynski (free agent, signed with Red Sox), RHP Joe Nathan (free agent, signed with Tigers)
FREE AGENTS: INF Jeff Baker, DH Lance Berkman, OF Nelson Cruz, RHP Matt Garza
The Rangers are open to bringing Cruz back if he eventually takes a two-year deal or two guaranteed years and some kind of an option. They may eventually consider Baker if the market doesn't produce a more versatile right-handed bat, but Garza is not a priority.
ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: LHP Neal Cotts, RHP Neftali Feliz, 1B Mitch Moreland, RHP Alexi Ogando
--LHP Matt Harrison (lower-back soreness) had surgery April 23 to repair a herniated disk and underwent a second back operation May 1. He then had surgery Sept. 9 to remove a rib in an effort to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome. Harrison is expected to be ready in time for spring training.
--LHP Edwar Cabrera (left shoulder surgery in July 2013) missed the entire 2013 season. The Rangers acquired him off waivers from the Rockies in October.
- Sports & Recreation
- Russell Wilson
- Masahiro Tanaka
- Nelson Cruz
- Yu Darvish