Spring training seems like an eternity away, especially with the endless holiday season still a week from ending. And then there’s bowl season to get through.
Baseball’s winter shopping season still has two months to go, though some clubs essentially have cleared their calendars with a flurry of trades and free-agent shopping well before Christmas.
Others still have work to do, and they have two months until players begin to assemble at various sites in Arizona and Florida. But those months might start to feel as though they are fleeting for clubs struggling to put the finishing touches on their 2015 rosters.
The Texas Rangers could eventually fall into that group. It might look like they already have, but looks can be deceiving. There wasn’t a ton of work to do and, somehow, not enough money to do anything splashy.
That’s the company line, at least, on the budget.
The club’s approach all along has been to be patient, along with the No. 1 priority of getting its injured cast of quality players healthy again. The injured are trending the right way as the front office is stuck waiting for prices to come down on a catcher, another starting pitcher and possibly a bat to stick in the mix.
It could be awhile.
“We’re talking a little bit more of a patient approach at this point,” general manager Jon Daniels said Tuesday. “We’re still looking. The best players we expected to add to our roster this year were the All-Star group we have coming back from injury.”
To that end, Daniels watched a group of a dozen players work out Monday at Globe Life Park, and the majority of them are coming off a season in which they were felled by some sort of injury. Included were key contributors Shin-Soo Choo, Tanner Scheppers and Derek Holland.
The rest of the off-season will be spent trying to complement the core group.
Trading for players remains Daniels’ preferred route, and oftentimes that’s the slowest route. He said there were no offers out to free agents, and the asking price for tradeable players who slide into the Rangers’ budget is currently too high.
Hence, the patient approach.
The search for a catcher to pair with Robinson Chirinos has taken more of a priority after the Rangers satisfied some of their rotation needs by acquiring left-hander Ross Detwiler last week in a trade with Washington.
Daniels had said during the winter meetings that 75 percent of his focus was on a starting pitcher, and he is still looking for rotation help. His goal behind the plate and on the mound is to make sure the Rangers have depth.
Chirinos’ history of concussions is a concern, though he made it through last season without any issues. Daniels wants a catcher who can handle a heavy workload in case of an injury, and the Rangers don’t believe rookie Tomas Telis can do that this early in his career.
The addition of another starting pitcher would likely push Nick Tepesch to what is becoming a loaded Triple A rotation. Fellow right-hander Nick Martinez could become the bullpen’s long reliever/swingman if pushed out of the rotation competition.
The Rangers are also optimistic that Adam Rosales will re-sign and become the club’s utility infielder in 2015.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760
Off-season winners ...
White Sox: No team has improved more than Chicago, which has traded for another ace, Jeff Samardzija, to pair with Chris Sale; signed dependable closer David Robertson; and added an offensive-minded left fielder, Melky Cabrera, to build around Cuban sensation Jose Abreu.
Cubs: Wrigley Field might not be home to a winner in 2015, with many young players filling key roles, but it might not be long before the Cubs contend. They signed left-hander Jon Lester to head their rotation and traded for veteran catcher Miguel Montero to mentor a young staff. They also added manager Joe Maddon.
Red Sox: Their heavy lifting came before the winter meetings, signing third baseman Pablo Sandoval and shortstop-turned-left fielder Hanley Ramirez to add punch to the lineup. The Red Sox also kept closer Koji Uehara. They then added left-hander Wade Miley and right-hander Justin Masterson at the meetings.
... And losers
Athletics: Roster turnover in Oakland is nothing new, and the A’s haven’t come away entirely empty-handed. But they dealt away their best player (Josh Donaldson), one of their top pitchers (Samardzija), a power threat (Brandon Moss) and were never players to re-sign Lester.
Giants: Coming off a third world title in five years, San Francisco has been blanked this off-season. Sandoval took the Panda Express to Boston, and Lester turned down a lucrative offer. In fact, both players turned down more money than what they received.
Orioles: Nelson Cruz bolted to Seattle for four years and $57 million, and Nick Markakis received four years and $44 million from Atlanta despite needing neck surgery. Baltimore was already short on starting pitching, and now the lineup has two significant holes.