Another riveting few days at the GM meetings have come to an end, though these weren’t a waste for the writers who came to cover the Texas Rangers.
New manager Chris Woodward made an appearance, and general manager Jon Daniels came out of hiding now that the managerial search is over. Neither unveiled the Rangers’ off-season blueprint, but they didn’t duck many questions.
Some, at least on Daniels’ end, but not many.
Here are few takeaways from what’s immediately in front of the Rangers:
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Coaching staff to be completed
Woodward will be in and out of Arlington from his home near Phoenix, where he intends to stay for another year before contemplating a full-time move to the Metroplex. His primary purpose at the GM meetings was to begin nailing down a coaching staff, and that process will continue next week with interviews in Arlington.
The Rangers are going to keep Don Wakamatsu and Tony Beasley, and add Jayce Tingler. Daniels and Woodward weren’t very forthcoming beyond that. A hitting coach is needed after Anthony Iapoce went to the Chicago Cubs. Boston Red Sox assistant hitting coach Andy Barkett has told the Rangers he is staying put.
Woodward also said that he plans to start reaching out to players, and Joey Gallo was near the top of the list.
Daniels said that he will speak with Adrian Beltre in the coming days about the Rangers’ plans for the roster and their plans for him in 2019, but Daniels will not set a timeline for Beltre to decide if he will return to the Rangers, retire or consider other clubs.
The Rangers are planning as if Beltre won’t be on the roster, from a practical standpoint as opposed to them having already decided to move on. To that end, Daniels said that Jurickson Profar will get the majority of the games at third base, and Woodward has urged Andrus to take on a larger leadership role.
Beltre said late in the season that he doesn’t want to drag out his decision deep into the off-season. He also said that he would begin his workouts for a new season as planned in case he does decide to play a 22nd season.
Behind on free agency
Daniels said that teams that hire managers or general managers or other front-office personnel typically are slow at the beginning of free agency, and the Rangers fall into that category.
Daniels said that the Rangers won’t need much time to catch up.
Their pro-scouting meetings produced an idea of the kind of player they are seeking and names who fit the profiles, but Daniels said that they Rangers don’t have a targeted pecking order.
Once they do dive into free agency, the Rangers aren’t expected to be setting the pitching market. They have three spots in the rotation to fill and are likely to add some seasoned bullpen pieces.
Two lefties enough?
The two pitchers the Rangers have for the 2019 rotation, Mike Minor and Drew Smyly, are both left-handed, and the Rangers learned last season that too many lefty starters doesn’t play well in the American League West.
The Rangers had four lefties – four! – in the season-opening rotation to take on Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, Khris Davis, Nelson Cruz and Mitch Haniger, among others.
That didn’t go very well.
So, that could eliminate Martin Perez, Derek Holland and Yusei Kikuchi as rotation candidates.
Few position players needed
The Rangers need to sign a primary catcher after letting Robinson Chirinos go into free agency. It wasn’t so much the money that Chirinos would have been owed on his club option, which had sailed north of $4 million based on incentives, but the combination of that money and his defensive issues.
The Rangers don’t believe that Jose Trevino, a defensive whiz in the minors, is ready for the full-time job. He had left/non-throwing shoulder surgery last season and could be limited in spring training. Isiah Kiner-Falefa also isn’t ready for a full-time load.
The new catcher could come via a trade. The best out there is J.T. Realmuto of the rebuilding Miami Marlins. He has two years of club control left, but it would take a pretty penny to get him. Maybe that’s where one of the four lefty-hitting corner outfielders is dangled in trade talks.
Daniels also said that the Rangers could look for a righty-hitting corner infielder to back up Ronald Guzman at first base.
Setting the 40-man
The Rangers have until Nov. 20 to decide which minor-league players they want to add to the 40-man roster and protect from the Rule 5 draft. The only one who is a lock, Daniels said, is left-hander Taylor Hearn, the prize of the July trading haul.
Daniels, though, omitted outfielder Scott Heineman, who should have been a September call-up. Catcher Josh Morgan, infielder Andy Ibanez and right-hander Michael Matuella are also candidates, though Matuella had another injury in 2018 and struggled when he was healthy.
The non-tender deadline is Dec. 1.