Nolan Ryan could leave Rangers by the end of spring training, sources say

Yes, there's been a shift of power in Arlington, which may or may not be the same as a power struggle, but the end result is the same.

Either way, Jon Daniels wins and a guy named Rick George wins, because the ownership group of the Texas Rangers decided that was the direction to go.

And the loser in all this?

Nolan Ryan.

All the above is a surprising development, and a risky development — I also say it’s a stupid development, because why jack with what has worked so well — but all of the above has been thoroughly sourced.

The Rangers owners are now on the edge of a local PR disaster with a large segment of the fandom.

Except Bob Simpson denied on Sunday that all of the above is the way the situation has unfolded, particularly concerning the possible exit of Ryan from the team, an exit that sources say is coming, if it happens, sooner rather than later. Like possibly by the end of spring training.

So far, however, Ryan has not confirmed he is planning on leaving the ballclub. He was not returning phone calls Sunday.

“Nolan Ryan leaving the Rangers would be a tragedy, and something we don’t want to happen,” the Fort Worth-based Simpson said Sunday upon his return from the team’s spring training headquarters in Surprise, Ariz.

“We absolutely do not want Nolan to leave. The moves we announced [on Friday] were to preserve Nolan, not to remove him, or remove his power. We want Nolan to be with the Rangers forever, and in charge of the team as long as he wants to be.”

The ownership announced that Daniels was promoted to president of baseball operations/GM, and that George in the front office was promoted to president of business operations. While the announcement was made over the weekend, I’m hearing the moves were actually made in late November.

Ryan’s title with the team remains as CEO. But sources also say Daniels now has final say over all baseball decisions and George the final say over business decisions.

Simpson and Ray Davis of Dallas control the team ownership group. Simpson has long been considered a Ryan ally. He denied that he and Davis had stripped Nolan of power.

“My definition of CEO is it’s the person in charge,” Simpson said. “Nolan Ryan will still make the anything-of-significance decisions and bring those to the owners for approval. I say significant decisions because we wanted to remove some of the day-to-day stuff from Nolan.

“Nolan is a treasure for us. His wisdom and his counsel are invaluable. And if anyone in his camp has taken these latest moves the wrong way, then that needs to be addressed.”

Simpson, Davis and the other ownership investors put the money up, and they will govern as they see fit. Right or wrong. And ownership egos have flared lately with the Rangers, although Simpson had been considered a stabilizing figure.

But despite Simpson’s comments Sunday, sources adamantly say Daniels is now in total charge of all baseball decisions, and has been since late November.

That did appear to be the case as the Rangers made off-season roster moves, and failed in an attempt to sign several key free agents. Daniels was obviously in charge, but it wasn’t necessarily out of the ordinary because Ryan’s management style has basically been to allow his GM to do the GM work.

To Daniels’ credit, he has been very quiet concerning the promotion at least from the standpoint, as far as I know, of even hinting to media members that he’s the new No. 1 baseball voice.

Daniels is wise in not placing himself opposite Ryan in a power struggle, even though Daniels’ power was increased.

While Simpson would confirm none of this Sunday, he heaped praise on the work of Daniels, along with praising Ryan.

“We certainly plan on Nolan being Nolan, and at the same time we have a strong group of young baseball guys working under Daniels,” Simpson said. “Some of those guys have been and will be general manager candidates elsewhere.

“Our plan is not to let anyone leave. We want to keep them all. What we now have in place, we hope that happens.”

I was asking around Sunday if Nolan had health issues, or in any way was considering retirement before the November move by the Rangers owners.

The answer from several sources was — adamant again — that Ryan absolutely would not retire from the Rangers, and if he leaves it will be because the owners no longer wanted him in the role he originally had.

And then there’s the Houston Astros, a ballclub in deep, deep trouble at the moment, and a club with a new owner who definitely needs Ryan as a credibility face and force, the same as Tom Hicks did when he hired Ryan in Arlington.

“Don’t think I haven’t thought of that,” said Simpson, laughing. “But Nolan isn’t going anywhere, not as far as I’m concerned.”

Ryan does have three years remaining on his current contract with the Rangers. But is that contract still valid now that a young GM and some guy in the front office have been deemed by these Rangers owners as more important than Nolan Ryan?

That’s a legal question, admittedly. But the power shift in Arlington is a fact. Nolan Ryan has been stripped of his power.

Randy Galloway can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on Galloway & Co. on ESPN/103.3 FM.

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