Rangers' main goal is to reload offensively
Daniels gets ready for GM Meetings looking to upgrade several positions
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are getting calls from other clubs with interest in first baseman Mitch Moreland.
"We have been asked about him a couple of times," general manager Jon Daniels said. "Teams view him as a buy-low candidate."
The Rangers don't necessarily feel that way after Moreland hit .232 with 23 home runs, 60 RBIs and a .437 slugging percentage this past season. But they do know they need to find more offense this winter, and first base is one area of concern.
"We really need more production from that spot," Daniels said. "It might be Mitch. He has a great work ethic, sometimes he works too hard instead of taking a deep breath and letting it happen."
The Rangers have to consider all of their options as Daniels gets ready to leave for the annual GM Meetings that start in Orlando, Fla., on Monday. Texas has been in touch with just about every club to feel out trade possibilities, but next week's face-to-face meetings have often served in the past as a place to lay the groundwork for impact offseason moves. Representatives for free agents will also be there.
Daniels has hosted multiple organizational meetings to shape the Rangers' offseason plans. They also know those plans need to be fluid in reaction to what other teams may or may not do this offseason. But Texas' primary goal is still to reload offensively, especially in left field and at designated hitter.
"We're more or less telling clubs that, in the short term, we need more on the offensive side," Daniels said.
Daniels also confirmed the Rangers are willing to discuss their middle infielders, which includes shortstop Elvis Andrus, second baseman Ian Kinsler and utility player Jurickson Profar from the Major League team, and shortstop Luis Sardinas and second baseman Rougned Odor from within the system.
"We have some depth in the organization and the big league level," Daniels said. "We're open to ideas. We've said all along our preference is not to trade any of these guys, but at some point, we have to make a decision. If there is a fit, we have to consider it, but we're not approaching it that we have to do something."
As far as a permanent change of position for either Kinsler or Profar, Daniels said, "We have talked about it internally. It's not anything we've discussed with the players. It's premature. We don't know 100 percent what our options are. If we get to that point, we'll talk to the players first."
A year ago, Profar was ranked as the top Minor League prospect in baseball by MLB.com. That was before he hit .234 with a .308 on-base percentage and a .336 slugging percentage in 85 games for the Rangers this past season. Part of that was uneven playing time and constantly switching positions.
"Our organization feels as good about him as we did 12 months ago, and I sense the industry does, too," Daniels said.
The Rangers go into the offseason with what appears to be a set pitching staff, with a rotation of Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Martin Perez and Alexi Ogando. The Rangers feel good enough about their bullpen that they are willing to let All-Star closer Joe Nathan go elsewhere. But that doesn't mean they will completely ignore the possibility of adding pitching.
"If the right pitcher is there, it's all about adding impact players," Daniels said.
The Rangers expect Harrison to be at full strength in Spring Training after missing most of last season with a back injury that required surgery. Ogando is probably the biggest concern in the rotation, because he has missed time as a starter because of various injuries.
"When he's out there, you can see the performance," Daniels said. "We're hoping to get him through that, but we need somebody to go out there and give us 30 starts."
Offense is still the driving force in the Rangers' offseason plans. They still would like to re-sign outfielder Nelson Cruz, especially since doing so would not cost them a Draft pick. Daniels said the team expects Cruz to turn down a qualifying offer of $14.1 million on Monday and test the market.
Brian McCann remains of interest to the Rangers as a player who could back up Geovany Soto at catcher and get time at either designated hitter or first base. McCann's agent, B.B. Abbott, said earlier this week that his client has serious interest in Texas. Daniels did not directly address the Rangers' potential interest, but the club has spoken with Abbott about McCann.
"It's pretty well documented what he's capable of," Daniels said. "You can draw your own conclusions, but I'm not going to get into specifics."
McCann would cost the Rangers their first-round Draft pick, as would some other desirable free-agent bats who were extended qualifying offers by their clubs: Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals; Curtis Granderson of the Yankees; Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox; Shin-Soo Choo of the Reds; and Kendrys Morales of the Mariners. The potential loss of a Draft pick will likely lessen Texas' interest in at least some on the list.
"We don't want to minimize it," Daniels said. "We'll give it up for the right player if it is worth it, but my preference is to not give it up."
Cost is also a factor, although Daniels did not disclose how much money the Rangers have to spend. They should have some flexibility, but they are not likely to be the big spenders they have been portrayed to be by some in the national media. If the Rangers were able to trade Kinsler, who is due $62 million over the next four years, that could change their approach.
"We've got the ability to make the club better," Daniels said. "I don't know if we're going to be the biggest spenders, but I don't want to be. That's not the way to build a club."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.