The equipment truck carrying the baseball belongings of the Texas Rangers headed west early Friday afternoon for spring training. The Rangers, apparently, plan on playing the 2018 season despite the dreary forecasts of their chances in the American League West.
That’s outside noise, according to the three players present for the truck’s departure from Globe Life Park, and might serve to motivate a team that has flourished in the past as underdogs.
Second baseman Rougned Odor, for instance, likes the team that has been put together by general manager Jon Daniels. Right-hander Keone Kela said that the Rangers know how to play the right way. Delino DeShields said that the Rangers were only a few wins shy of the postseason last year, and the same team essentially is returning.
Not present for the final boxes to be pushed onto the 18-wheeler was Elvis Andrus, who was on the field putting the final touches on his pre-camp training program. Later, he echoed what his teammates had said and added the following:
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“I don’t take this as a free-agent [year].”
Andrus might can opt out of his eight-year contract after this season and the next, but he said that there have been no formal conversations about an extension that would keep him with the Rangers and he hasn’t really thought much about it.
He just wants to improve upon a season that lifted him into position to test free agency, or at least test the Rangers.
“I’m worried about getting ready and having another great year and being in the postseason and in the World Series,” Andrus said. “This is a year that I’m going to try to be better than last year. That’s my mentality.
“I want to be here. I want to retire here. Everyone knows that.”
A source said that general manager Jon Daniels has talked briefly with Andrus’ agent, Scott Boras, about a new deal that would keep Andrus from exercising his option, but the Rangers also are bracing for Andrus to opt out if he has another banner season.
Andrus is aware of the state of the current free agents, and said that the players need to figure out what it going on. As of now, it won’t affect his decision about opting out.
A series of agents on Friday released statements about the stalemate, and each suggested that something is afoot between the 30 teams. Boiling them down, they said that there is no way that 30 general managers and 30 team owners are evaluating talent the exact same way.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” Andrus said. “It’s something we need to fine out. You can see every talking about a slow market and team owners want to do this and that. They need to sign guys. There’s over 100-plus free agents and the season is 60-something days away. I don’t know what they’re trying to do, if they want the guys to feel pressure and sign bad deals. That’s what it looks like.”