The third day of the annual winter meetings came and went Wednesday with the Texas Rangers stuck in neutral and the finish line only hours away.
No deals were within sight, though conversations were ongoing.
All in the Rangers’ war room continue to feel no pressure to grab a big-name free agent largely because of a big-time trade last month.
The budget that is in place doesn’t have much elasticity to it, though agent Scott Boras seems unfazed.
General manager Jon Daniels repeated his familiar refrain that he believes the club as constructed is a contender and might stay as is, on the whole, the rest of the off-season.
That all adds up to the Rangers leaving the Walt Disney Dolphin Resort late Thursday morning looking exactly as they did when they arrived Sunday afternoon.
“This is the time of year where you win or lose on headlines,” Daniels said. “There’s no games to be played. I think it’s great our fans have high expectations for us. We do, too.
“But our goal is to ultimately win games and win rings. We may make other impactful moves or smaller, just smart baseball moves, but we’re not caught up in the hype of making headlines.”
Daniels, to his credit, recognizes the desire from the fan base to act swiftly and without regard to the budget that is in place. He also understands that significant bellyaching is likely if another winter meetings doesn’t result in 72-point headlines.
But he points to the acquisition of Prince Fielder, which came with $138 million in contractual obligations, as a major move. The Rangers also have shored up their catching, a bullpen spot and their rotation with the extension Martin Perez has received.
Work remains to be done, some of which can’t be finished until the market for free-agent outfielders Shin-Soo Choo and Nelson Cruz is settled. The Rangers remain interested in both, though nothing has changed since Monday regarding either player.
The Rangers want to add another bat, Daniels said, and they believe Choo is a nice fit for them but that they don’t think he is worth his asking price of seven years and $153 million, the contract New York shelled out for fellow Boras client Jacoby Ellsbury.
“Budgets are a human design rather than a physical barrier,” Boras said. “Most teams, when they meet with us, are there to talk about how they can acquire the player, not talk about their limitations.
“We’ve had enough meetings. We’ve had a number of second meetings. I’m not particularly good at predicting the times of these because it’s not my decision. We’re certainly moving closer.”
The Rangers’ talks with Cruz haven’t advanced since Monday, when Daniels first met with agent Adam Katz. There has been a push internally to sign Cruz, who would be more affordable over a shorter term than Choo and wouldn’t cost the Rangers a first-round pick in draft compensation.
The difference between the Rangers and Cruz is length of contract. The Rangers are holding firm at two years, and Cruz wants no fewer than three.
“We like Nellie,” Daniels said. “I don’t think I’ve ever made that a secret.”
The off-season market continues to lose players each day, with Rangers targets Corey Hart and Bartolo Colon signing elsewhere Wednesday. The trends would indicate that Choo and Cruz won’t be far behind.
Though nothing appears to be developing at the winter meetings again this year, Rangers brass could be busy leading up to the end of the year. Patience might not be a virtue this year.
“I want to enjoy January,” Daniels said. “We like our team. We like some of our options. We like our young players coming, and we don’t feel a sense of desperation or urgency to make a move or a deal that we don’t like.
“We’ve put ourselves in a position where we can be a little bit picky. We’d prefer to get our business done as soon as we can, but at the same time, if it develops later or doesn’t develop at all, we still like our club.”