Texas Rangers

Rangers search for starting pitching heats up this week

When the Texas Rangers executives arrive at the sun-drenched Omni Resort just north of the Phoenix airport Monday afternoon their winter work begins in earnest.

In truth, it had already begun, as general manager Jon Daniels said last week the club has talked to several teams about a potential trade involving left-hander Derek Holland.

The Rangers are expected to decline to pick up Holland’s $11 million option and instead buy out his contract for $1.5 million. The deadline is Monday evening.

The club could still work out a deal with the lefty if a trade isn’t worked out.

Letting Holland go makes starting pitching an even bigger priority for Daniels.

Of course, deals are already going down and personnel moves continue to shake out, altering the free agent market. The Chicago Cubs declined to pick up right-hander Jason Hammel’s option on Sunday, which makes him one of the more attractive free agent pitchers available.

“It’s not the greatest free agent market and I think that might lead to some more creativity and some different kind of deals,” Daniels said. “It’s too early to say at this point but I would expect we’ll look at different ways we can go about it.”

Hammel, 34, was left off the Cubs’ playoff roster after he experienced elbow tightness late in the season. But he put together a solid year before the injury, finishing 15-10 with a 3.83 ERA in 30 starts (166  2/3 innings). He had a 3.74 ERA in 31 starts (170 2/3) innings for the Cubs in 2015.

Holland was 11-12 with a 4.93 ERA in 30 combined starts the past two seasons in which he battled injuries. He turned 30 last month.

“We’ve talked with Derek and kind of explained our thought processes there,” Daniels said. “We’ve talked to teams about trading him, if there’s a club interested in Derek and doesn’t necessarily want to compete for him. I don’t yet know if that will materialize yet.”

The Rangers have valuable commodities that could help lure a starting pitcher via trade. Joey Gallo and Jurickson Profar both still hold certain levels of cache as long-term major league producers.

“I think Joey is going to be a very good player, most likely for us,” Daniels said. “When that is I don’t know. [He] probably needs more time unless there’s that big jump made like Ryan Rua made last year. Everyone is different. Some guys figure it out at 21 years old. Joey is 23 years old. He’s still very youthful.”

Stefan Stevenson: 817-390-7760, @StevensonFWST

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