On the biggest and busiest of deadline days, perhaps the biggest and busiest ever, the Texas Rangers didn’t do a thing.
Oh, general manager Jon Daniels took calls. He made calls. He and his staff evaluated proposals. They tried to make the Rangers better for 2015 and beyond.
But in the end, when the clock struck 3 p.m. and the nonwaiver deadline passed, the Rangers had stayed true to the values they placed on their players and to the belief that not getting value would hurt the club for 2015 and beyond.
“And that’s OK,” Daniels said.
It is OK, so long as Daniels and his staff are able to make the Rangers contenders again next season.
That will involve more than just counting on a bunch of bodies being healthy again, but that’s a vital step. Players will have to be evaluated properly. Money is going to have to be spent.
Daniels’ task isn’t going to be easy.
“There’s a variety of things,” he said Thursday, about an hour after the deadline passed.
The Rangers were hit with calls about six to eight players, Daniels suggested, but primarily right fielder Alex Rios and left-hander Neal Cotts. Both are potential free agents, but both are potential pieces for 2015.
The Rangers hold a $14 million option on Rios, who is hitting above .300 but has seen his power decline to only four homers in 395 at-bats. Cotts is in his final season of arbitration, and Daniels said that the Rangers have had preliminary talks about a contract extension.
In fairness to Daniels, trades can still be made through Aug. 31, though a player will have to clear waivers to be dealt.
Also, the Rangers were active during the nonwaiver trade period.
They shipped away right-handed relievers Jason Frasor and Joakim Soria. They obtained righty relievers Spencer Patton and Corey Knebel, both of whom are expected to be promoted from Triple A Round Rock soon.
The Soria trade, which also brought right-hander starter Jake Thompson, is widely considered throughout the industry as a great trade for the Rangers.
Getting a read on that group, part of the ballyhooed “next wave” of pitching prospects, will determine how the Rangers attack a free-agent pitching market that will include right-hander Max Scherzer and left-hander Jon Lester, who kicked off the crazy Thursday in a deal to Oakland that sent slugger Yoenis Cespedes to trade-happy Boston.
“We’re going to rely a lot on this young wave we have coming,” Daniels said. “Whether that is Opening Day next year or later next year or kind of a gradual process. I kind of lean toward the latter.”
The Rangers also need to know how far along injured players are in their recovery from significant injuries and how well they will be able to prepare for 2015.
Daniels confirmed that first baseman Prince Fielder, second baseman Jurickson Profar and right-handed relievers Tanner Scheppers and Alexi Ogando will miss the rest of the season.
The hope is to get Profar ready to play this fall in Arizona or this winter in the Dominican Republic. He will begin a throwing program in 10 to 14 days.
Left-hander Derek Holland isn’t a sure thing either, if his left knee doesn’t respond well during his rehab assignment. The Rangers won’t risk losing a routine off-season and a normal spring workload just for a few starts in a lost 2014 season.
“The health factor is real,” Daniels said. “You’re talking about some major contributors or guys expected to be major contributors who we’ve got to get right.”
The players currently on the roster also need to show what they will be.
Outfielder Jim Adduci, for instance, has a chance to prove that he can be a productive major leaguer. Reliever Neftali Feliz has a chance to prove that he can be a capable closer again.
But there’s no way to avoid dipping into the free-agent pool. How deep of a dip is what Daniels and his staff need to figure out the rest of the season.
“There’s a lot going on,” Daniels said. “We’re going to make the most out of this time to make the best decisions we can going forward.”