When reached earlier this week, Jon Daniels was making his way through the aisles of his friendly neighborhood liquor store before heading into his office at Globe Life Park.
The spirits were a holiday gift for a friend, or so Daniels said, and not to summon the courage to call up the agent for Edwin Encarnacion and give the free-agent first baseman whatever contract he wants.
But the booze could go down as the Texas Rangers’ biggest acquisition over the days before Christmas, no offense to the twice-claimed David Rollins.
Daniels, the club’s general manager, and the rest of the front office have settled into a game of waiting for the right pitch as they attempt to complete the roster for spring training.
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So order another round. Spike the eggnog. The Rangers have officially entered into patience mode.
We’re just trying to talk through a bunch of different scenarios and trying to stay patient with things.
Rangers GM Jon Daniels
“We’ve stayed in touch on a number of different fronts, but for the most part, it’s being patient,” Daniels said. “We need to add depth in certain areas. Between trades and free agents, there’s still a lot of opportunities out there for us and others.
“We’re just trying to talk through a bunch of different scenarios and trying to stay patient with things.”
Daniels is also a fan of saying that a deal could be the next phone call away, so there’s that.
And he’s making calls.
But the lack of last-minute holiday shopping rates somewhat unusual for Daniels, who has a track record for striking deals as Christmas draws near.
Kevin Millwood agreed to his four-year deal on Christmas Eve 2005. That came only four days after the self-proclaimed worst trade of Daniels’ career, the one that sent Adrian Gonzalez and Chris Young to San Diego.
On Dec. 23, 2006, the Rangers sent top prospects John Danks to get right-hander Brandon McCarthy from the Chicago White Sox.
Josh Hamilton was acquired Dec. 21, 2007. The Rangers won negotiating rights for Yu Darvish on Dec. 20, 2011. On the one-year anniversary, A.J. Pierzynski agreed to a deal. The Rangers reached an agreement with Shin-Soo Choo on Dec. 23, 2013.
Colby Lewis decided to jump back in for 2015 on Dec. 16, 2014, and for 2016 on Dec. 17, 2015.
Daniels is avoiding the mall crowds this year.
“We don’t have any offers out,” he said.
The Rangers have made two key acquisitions this off-season, agreeing with free agent Andrew Cashner in November and re-signing Carlos Gomez earlier this month.
That came despite a rumor linking the Rangers to Encarnacion, one that said that Rangers sources confirmed they are among five teams to make a multi-year offer to the former Toronto Blue Jays slugger.
But other sources told the Star-Telegram that the Rangers, already with a record payroll, wouldn’t jump into the Encarnacion sweepstakes — or the sweepstakes for any of the remaining top-of-the-market free agents — until his price dropped significantly and/or he was still looking for a place to play in February.
Even if it was to reach that point, a source said, the Rangers might have wanted to do only a one-year deal, along the lines of what they did last spring with Ian Desmond.
Well, Encarnacion reportedly agreed late Wednesday to a three-year, $60 million deal with the Cleveland Indians.
Star-Telegram sources 1, Rumors 0.
Lewis is still a possibility as the Rangers look to add depth for the competition for the fifth rotation spot, though the 40-man roster is full and Lewis might have to come to camp as a non-roster invitee if he wants to stay with the Rangers.
Daniels said that the Rangers could add another outfielder and bump Choo to primary duties at designated hitter, but the Rangers are infatuated with the idea of not having a primary DH so that they can rotate regulars into the spot for semi-rest days.
“We only have 48 or 49 people coming to camp,” Daniels said. “I think it’s pretty clear that we’re going to add.”
Just not in the days before Christmas.
So, order another round.