The bevy of injuries that, combined with a lack of depth, wrecked the Texas Rangers’ 2014 season left a mark on general manager Jon Daniels, and possibly left him more realistic as he arrived Monday for the annual GM meetings at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel.
Daniels’ expectation is that the Rangers will have a healthy nucleus and be a playoff contender with the addition of a few newcomers, but he learned last season that health can’t be taken for granted.
As such, he said that the Rangers likely will not be in the market for one-year deals to fill key holes because a few injury relapses could again make contending a tall order.
“As we know there are no guarantees, so I don’t know if this is the year to push all your chips in,” Daniels said. “We have a very talented nucleus, which I expect to add to this winter, but I don’t know about going big on one-year fits.”
The Rangers want players who they can control for at least two seasons but preferably more. One exception could be outfielder Justin Upton, whom the Rangers coveted in 2012 before he was dealt to Atlanta.
Upton can be a free agent next off-season, but he would fill a power void in the lineup and also fill a void in left field. The Braves have indicated that Upton could be had for the right deal, and he could be a player the Rangers would want to extend before he hits free agency.
“It would have to be a unique situation, really the right fit,” Daniels said.
The Rangers have a surplus of middle infielders, but lingering concern over the health of Jurickson Profar’s right shoulder might make Daniels hesitant to trade away depth. Profar is on track to start throwing again, but he was derailed twice from that track last season.
Trading Profar this off-season would be difficult.
“We have to decide for ourselves if now is the time to move one of them or wait for Jurickson to be healthy,” Daniels said.
The Rangers have had conversations with free-agent right-hander Colby Lewis and his agent, Alan Nero, within the past week, and Daniels expects that Lewis will eventually re-sign.
Lewis told the Rangers two weeks ago that he would test free agency after their initial offer came in too low. Daniels is OK with Lewis trying to get a feel for his value, especially after proving that his hip and arm are healthy after two years of injury issues.
“He understands where we’re at and what we want to do,” Daniels said. “I think both sides want it to work out. If I had to guess, I would think it gets done at the end of the day, but you never know.”
Daniels expects to tender contracts to all players on the roster, including the oft-injured Alexi Ogando and Mitch Moreland.
The right-handed Ogando (elbow) has been throwing bullpen sessions at the Rangers’ academy in the Dominican Republic and could join La Romana of the Dominican Winter League before Thanksgiving.
Moreland, a first baseman and designated hitter, is expect to run on his surgically repaired left ankle next month.