The off-season of nothing much continued Tuesday at Globe Life Park, where the Texas Rangers added to their stockpile of low-cost relievers with the addition Deolis Guerra on a minor-league deal.
Later in the afternoon, with their annual winter mini-camp in full swing, five minor-leaguers with little chance at making the Opening Day roster were added to the spring roster as internal non-roster invitees.
Somewhere in between, general manager Jon Daniels explained why the off-season has barely made front-page news, at least the good kind. He’s likely to face the same questions Saturday at Fan Fest.
Rather than spend money on quick, short-term fixes, the Rangers will see if their own players can be winning big-league pieces. Rather than dive into the deep end of free agency, the Rangers are staying flexible and betting that lower-cost acquisitions will live up to their potential.
The Rangers aren’t going all-in this season in a division in which other clubs have invested in winning now, Daniels said, yet the Rangers still expect to contend for the postseason.
“This was a winter that we wanted to commit to playing a lot of our younger guys, guys we believe in and want to find out about and give the opportunity to take the steps we’ve seen some of these other guys take,” Daniels said.
“At the same time, we chose to spread our resources around to add a number of pitchers to fill innings and fill roles on the club, but that are admittedly guys we see as values and we see as guys who can outperform the acquisition cost. ...
“... We considered everything, from going all-in to pulling back, and this is where we think the wisest play was for us at this time. I’m very realistic about the team, very realistic about the division.
“There are other clubs that are more in the all-in part of the cycle, and that’s going to create some challenges for us during the season. I get it. Do we go to camp with a chance to win? I believe we do. I really do. Do we need some guys to develop the way we believe they can? Absolutely. That’s going to be the fun part of it, but that’s going to be our challenge.”
So, he’s saying there’s a chance. These players could enhance the Rangers’ chances in 2018:
Matt Moore: The left-hander posted one of the worst seasons in baseball by a starting pitcher in 2017, yet the Rangers thought he would be a perfect fit for their rotation. This isn’t the Moore of 2011, when in his second MLB start he overpowered the Rangers in Game 1 of the American League Division Series. He’s had Tommy John surgery, lost some juice on his fastball, and lost his way last season. But if he’s as good as he was before his surgery in 2014 or even in 2016, the rotation will get a boost.
Rougned Odor: The second baseman can’t be the all-or-nothing player he was last season, on offense and defense. The Rangers believe Odor can hit .300. They have seen him hit 30 home runs. They have also seen him hit .204 and strike out 162 times. Odor needs to put the ball in play more and be more selective at the plate if he’s going to be the kind of offensive player the Rangers believe he can be.
Delino DeShields: The one Rangers player other than Shin-Soo Choo who has more ways to reach base again is on the verge of everyday play. DeShields is one of the fastest players in the game, and that speed makes him a weapon with the bat. It also helps him overcome some blemishes on defense, but he is planning to fix those this off-season. If he can get to balls sooner and run better routes, the Rangers’ concerns about DeShields as their regular center fielder could disappear.
Martin Perez: The lefty is expected to miss the first month of the season after breaking his right elbow dodging an angry bull. No matter how many starts he makes, he must pick up where he left off last season. The Rangers can’t afford another inconsistent season from a pitcher they believed would be a cornerstone.
Yu Darvish: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Daniels has said all off-season that the Rangers won’t be playing at the top of the free-agent market. But this isn’t an ordinary market, with so, so many players still waiting to sign. Darvish is one of them, and he and the Rangers both want a reunion. It would have to be at the right price and at the right number of years. “I don’t want to rule anything out,” Daniels said. “We’re not going to close the door on a chance to add a premium talent. You always explore it. But if I had to handicap it, I don’t think it’s highly likely at this point.”
So, Daniels is saying there’s a chance.