ARLINGTON -- If spring training started today, general manager Jon Daniels would be pleased with the look of the 2013 Texas Rangers. But there is a month left before pitchers and catchers report to the Rangers' facility in Surprise, Ariz., and there are still impact players on the market.
Right-hander Kyle Lohse and outfielder Michael Bourn are the top remaining free agents, and the Rangers have expressed interest in both. It's not known if a deal is close on either one, though.
Both players would help the Rangers, but both would come at a steep price. They are represented by Scott Boras, who talks regularly with Daniels. Boras is known to negotiate late into the off-season, and the Rangers emerged as the landing spot for one of Boras' clients two years ago, Adrian Beltre, who signed a six-year, $96 million deal in early January.
Boras declined comment on player negotiations Friday night, but felt the Rangers owe it to their fans to make every effort to sustain a championship-caliber team.
"Drawing 3.4 million fans in the Metroplex is astonishing," Boras said, referring to the Rangers' record-setting attendance last season. "It's good business to sign the best players available so the perception is you're doing what the fans deserve. I am sure ownership is willing to do it, too, because they did it with Beltre."
Daniels agreed that ownership has been supportive of any moves the front office deems to improve the team, and said there is financial flexibility for the team to make more additions.
"It's obviously not unlimited, but we have the ability to maneuver if we need to," Daniels said at the Rangers' Fan Fest at the Arlington Convention Center.
"There are still some players out there that the right scenario could fit for us. That's our job -- to put the best team out there. We like the club, we like the competition going into camp, but we're not doing our jobs if we don't keep looking when there are still players available."
One of the biggest competitions, as of now, is the fifth spot in the Rangers' rotation. As the team is constructed today, there would be an internal competition between Martin Perez, Justin Grimm and Robbie Ross, who would be stretched out from his relief role. Others would likely join the mix, but Daniels also left open the possibility of adding a proven starter.
"I expect we'll have a competition for the fifth spot as long as we don't sign or add a starting pitcher that would be guaranteed that spot," Daniels said.
Lohse, who is coming off a career year in St. Louis, would eliminate the Rangers' internal competition. He is a groundball pitcher whose best two seasons have been the last two. At age 34, however, a lengthy contract offer may not be forthcoming.
As far as Bourn, the Rangers have interest on a shorter-term contract and would prefer not to block Leonys Martin's path. But the outfield situation isn't set past next season, as Nelson Cruz and David Murphy are set to become free agents.
Going to the WBC
Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre are planning to represent the Dominican Republic in this year's World Baseball Classic.
Closer Joe Nathan has been asked to pitch for the United States but said he's still in the process of making his decision. Ian Kinsler also could represent the U.S., and shortstop Elvis Andrus plans to play for Venezuela.
Minor league outfielder Engel Beltre has committed to play for Spain, and minor league catcher Kellin Deglan plans to play for Canada.
Matt Harrison and the team have had preliminary discussions on a long-term contract. More conversations could take place today.
Yu Darvish on his 2012 season: "There were some rough times, some good times ... overall, just so-so." Darvish finished the season strong with Geovany Soto serving as his primary catcher, a pairing manager Ron Washington expects to continue.
Joakim Soria is recovering from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery for the second time in his career, and said it has been going "perfect." Soria is on schedule to make his Rangers debut in late May or early June.
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760