Texas Rangers

Why aren’t Rangers pursuing Machado (or other top free agents)? Timing is everything

Los Angeles Dodgers’ Manny Machado (8) celebrates his three-run homer against the Atlanta Braves during the seventh inning in Game 4 of baseball’s National League Division Series, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Los Angeles Dodgers’ Manny Machado (8) celebrates his three-run homer against the Atlanta Braves during the seventh inning in Game 4 of baseball’s National League Division Series, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) AP

Maybe it was all the second-hand smoke or the first-hand losing at the Mandalay Bay casino that prompted the following question to Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels.

More likely, it was a defeated reaction to the lack of substantive transactions (and web clicks) so far at these MLB winter meetings, though in fairness to the Rangers they have actually added two new players to their 40-man roster in two days.

Anyhoo, the question:

“Why aren’t you guys pursuing Manny Machado?”

Machado is a free agent, and he’s going to get a pile of money.

He’s a third baseman, though he thinks he’s a shortstop, and the Rangers could improve at third base after the retirement of Adrian Beltre and the balky throws of Jurickson Profar.

The Rangers need a gate draw for the final year of Globe Life Park and the first year of Globe Life Field.

They need great players for their rebuild.

They have the money, no matter what they’re saying.

Machado fills many Rangers needs.

Granted, his impact on the field likely wouldn’t result in playoff berth in 2019, and maybe not in 2020. But once the Rangers are ready to contend again, heck, yes.

“He is a great player,” Daniels said. “You don’t have those free agents come along every year.”

So, what gives?

Timing is everything, or something like that.

“We decided this isn’t the year for us to pursue the top guys,” Daniels said. “We are looking for long-term fits, which certainly you can characterize the top free agents as.

“I think you’re looking at the best years of the some of the free agents are at the beginning of their contracts, and that doesn’t necessarily line up when we’re looking to put it all together. You can argue that you wait for an opportunity when the timing’s better.”

That argument apparently is a winning one.

Machado’s name can be substituted for other big-fish free agents. The Rangers aren’t pursuing any of them (Bryce Harper, Dallas Keuchel) and didn’t play for the two big pitchers (Patrick Corbin, Nathan Eovaldi) who have signed.

Some top-notch pitchers are said to be available in trades (Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Noah Syndergaard). It makes sense that the Rangers wouldn’t play for them, considering the dent that would be put in the farm system of a rebuilding team.

But Machado, potential character issues aside, is just money, a albeit a ton of it and a heck of a sales job to convince him that eventually the Rangers will be contenders.

There’s that timing thing again.

“There will be a point in time when we will entertain top free agents,” Daniels said. “We’ve done it before. We’ll do it again. We’re not always going to do it, but we will be more aggressive at points in the future than we are right now.”

Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward, speaking Monday at the MLB winter meetings, said that players don’t like hearing expectations that they will lose in 2019.

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After 11 seasons covering the Rangers for the Star-Telegram, Jeff Wilson knows that baseball is a 24/7/365 business and there is far more to baseball than just the 162 games each season. There’s also more to Jeff -- like a family and impressive arsenals of Titleist hats and adidas shoes -- but sometimes it’s hard to tell.
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