Texas Rangers biding their time as Pierzynski passes physical

Posted Friday, Dec. 21, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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While faced with the possibility that the Mayan calendar would spell doom for the world at some point Friday, Jon Daniels continued to burn the midnight oil.

His task as general manager of the Texas Rangers is to put together the 2013 team, a process that so far to some has looked a little bit like the end of the world.

The Rangers' top two free-agent targets, Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton, took the big bucks from the Los Angeles area.

Possible trades for James Shields and Justin Upton fizzled after the Rangers refused to include shortstops Jurickson Profar and Elvis Andrus.

Ian Kinsler has been approached about possibly playing first base.

Players and/or their agents have expressed concern about the off-season to Daniels, who insisted that the winter planning is far from over and is steadfast in his belief that the Rangers will be a good team in 2013.

"Guys want to know that we haven't changed our goals and our focus, and we definitely haven't," Daniels said.

"First of all, we're not done. Second of all, our team is going to be good, health permitting. Once we've had a chance to talk to the guys, I think they understand that."

Daniels' primary focus is on two areas: up the middle and in trying not to get caught up in the race to be baseball's champion of the off-season.

The perfect example is free-agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who agreed to a one-year, $7.5 million deal and passed his physical Friday. But because of the holiday, the club won't announce the deal until after Christmas.

The Rangers needed a veteran catcher and a left-handed hitter, and Pierzynski is coming off the best season of his career.

But he will be 36 on Opening Day. Giving a three- or four-year contract to an aging catcher would have been viewed as a knee-jerk reaction to losing out on Greinke and Hamilton, but a one-year deal made sense for the team.

Daniels is walking the delicate line of trying to not be reactionary while trying to make the right moves.

"You just take a step back and try to make good baseball decisions," Daniels said. "Reactionary moves usually don't wind up very well.

"We've never set out to win the off-season. It's pretty meaningless at the end of the day to make headlines in the fall and the winter. That doesn't have a lot of value to us."

Daniels and his staff are also trying to figure out the best thing to do with the players already on the roster.

That's where Kinsler, Andrus and Profar come in.

Though Kinsler has expressed a willingness to play first base, the Rangers haven't made the final call on that. Manager Ron Washington said two weeks ago that Kinsler is the Rangers' second baseman.

There is an expectation that Profar is ready to contribute every day, and Andrus continues to improve each season. He's a better player right now than Profar.

But Andrus is a free agent in two seasons, and clients of agent Scott Boras almost always test the market. Andrus' free agency will coincide with the end of Derek Jeter's career with the Yankees.

Instead of losing out on Andrus with nothing to show for it, the Rangers could deal him for pitching help or a center fielder while opening a spot for Profar.

The Rangers will talk to Andrus about an extension, but club officials quietly aren't hopeful. They also continue to wade through their middle-infield options.

"We've got an All-Star double-play tandem, both relatively young, and we've got another player that we think has the ability to be that kind of player as well," Daniels said.

"We're not looking to force anything. Things have a way of happening. Maybe a trade does present itself that does make some sense. But we're going to take our time with it, and I expect to see all three guys in camp."

A starting pitcher and bullpen help are also on the radar, and so is a center fielder, despite the presence of Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry.

Rotation candidates and center fielders have all but disappeared from the marketplace. Kyle Lohse and Michael Bourn are the best available at each spot, and both are represented by Boras.

The Rangers continue to pluck relievers off waivers, as they did Friday with left-hander Jeff Beliveau, but impact relievers are often found in January.

Daniels and his staff will be looking.

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

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