Fan Fest traditionally serves as the kick off to another Texas Rangers season, and before any of those who attended Saturday’s festivities know it, spring training will be upon them.
Rangers pitchers and catchers must be in the state of Arizona by Feb. 14 for report date. The positions players must report five days later. These days, though, everyone is usually in place ahead of their respective deadline.
The next three weeks should fly by, though there is still plenty of time for general manager Jon Daniels to add to the spring roster. There remains no shortage of candidates available via free agency.
The majority of the signings will likely be to minor-league deals, though the possibility that the Rangers sign Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Lorenzo Cain and Greg Holland — and other top free agents — remains.
It remains unlikely, as Daniels told the media and a group of fans during a Fan Fest question-and-answer session, but something is going to give.
Players might panic. Teams might cave. Salary demands might drop. Teams might see an opportunity.
In an unprecedented off-season that has caught Daniels and other executives off-guard, adding a premium player seems more likely than Daniels is letting on.
“The market, for whatever reason — for a variety of reasons, probably — has moved much slower than usual,” Daniels said. “By just the number of players out there, not just the free agents but a number of trades conversations still ongoing, I would expect that between now and Opening Day things would change somewhat.
“How much and when is a little hard to forecast.”
Darvish continues to make the most sense for the Rangers, who have been touting their current starting pitchers but know that he’s better than any of them. A source said that there has been more activity between Darvish and his suitors, and the Darvish camp is awaiting the next round of calls from the Rangers.
Two club officials said that they expect one team will give Darvish more than the Rangers would, but they would be more active if he becomes open to signing for fewer years at a reasonable average annual salary.
The Rangers still like Alex Cobb more than Lance Lynn, both of whom were expected to make less than Darvish and Arrieta when free agency opened.
The bullpen could still use an arm, and plenty of quality relievers remain. Holland isn’t a fit, but Sergio Romo, Tony Watson and Matt Albers all are in the mold of the kind of reliever the Rangers were seeking back in November — veterans who have late-game experience.
Last week, Daniels shot down the Rangers’ reported interest in center field Lorenzo Cain and on Saturday he threw more support behind Delino DeShields as the everyday center fielder.
“We want to play Delino in center fielder,” Daniels said. “Obviously, Cain’s a very good player. I would figure that if we have another big expenditure it would be on the pitching side. I’ve said all along I think it’s unlikely either way.”
But he also expected that not this many top free agents would still be available this late in the off-season. Something is going to give.