Gil LeBreton

Go ahead, Rangers execs: Be mavericks in free agency

Texas Rangers owners Ray Davis, left,  and Bob Simpson, right, flank  general manager Jon Daniels at a press conference in September.
Texas Rangers owners Ray Davis, left, and Bob Simpson, right, flank general manager Jon Daniels at a press conference in September. Star-Telegram

Patience and promising CT scans don’t sound like much of a marketing philosophy, but that’s the company line that the Texas Rangers are selling this holiday season.


It hasn’t been very exciting, has it?

Behold the newcomers: Ross Detwiler, Kyle Blanks, the other Delino DeShields and a 33-year-old Japanese pitcher named Kyuji Fujikawa.

Nary a sizzle has been heard from the Rangers’ hot stove plate.

Meanwhile, behold the Dallas Mavericks. Owner Mark Cuban can smell the prize.

The agreement with the Boston Celtics on Thursday for guard Rajon Rondo is just brazen enough — and risky enough — for Cuban and the Mavericks to think they’ve found the missing piece to their championship puzzle.

Strong finishes require bold moves.

And thus, here was general manager Jon Daniels’ answer this week when asked whether he would be happy to go to spring training with the Rangers roster he currently has:

“I think there are a few areas that we’d still like to add some depth, and we may,” Daniels said. “I think there’s a lot of internal candidates for these spots.

“I like a lot of the competition that’s been created, both by some of pieces we’ve brought in, but maybe more so by the development of some of our younger guys and the positive medical news we’re getting on a whole group that should be the best players on our team.”

If I’m translating correctly, Daniels is saying that 2014 was a washout in many respects, because injuries kept the club from ever learning what the full impact of adding Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo would be.

Even more than the loss of the full input of those two, the starting rotation lost three-fifths of its projected starters — Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and Martin Perez.

Holland will return as the Rangers’ No. 2 starter, and veteran Colby Lewis has been re-signed. But Perez, recovering from Tommy John surgery, may not see a big-league mound until July, and Harrison’s back problems may have ended his career.

No one expected Daniels to be in on the Jon Lester or Max Scherzer free agent discussions.

But Ross Detwiler? That’s it?

That’s the only pitching addition for a franchise that drew 2.7 million last season, ninth-most in the major leagues?

I asked Daniels, “How would you describe your interest in James Shields?”

“I wouldn’t,” Daniels answered. “It’s the same thing we’ve said since the beginning. We’re not active, nor do we expect to be active, at the top of the free-agent market.”

Not even, someone asked, after the free-agent market has settled somewhat and rivals have been wheeling and dealing?

No, the general manager said. Veteran right-hander Shields is “not even something that I presented to ownership.”

Really? Well, allow me.

James Shields turns 33 years old Saturday and has pitched 200 or more innings for eight seasons in a row. He started 34 games for a World Series team in 2014.

Shields reportedly is seeking at least a five-year deal in the $100-million range. But that’s a reach.

At his age, a four-year contract is more realistic, and he’s not close to being a $20-million-per-year pitcher.

Signing Shields would also allow the Rangers to see the silver lining in their 2014 misfortunes. By virtue of owning a top 10 pick, they would not have to forfeit their precious No. 1 choice for signing a tendered free agent. It’s hard to believe Daniels and his people won’t take advantage of this.

If not Shields for, say, four years and $65 million, why not the fiery Jake Peavy for something substantially less?

A better question is, who suddenly turned this franchise’s pockets inside out? Why are the owners unwilling this off-season to spend any more money?

Our friends at Forbes magazine listed Thursday the personal worth of co-owner Ray Davis as $2.9 billion. With the stock market percolating and such, by Forbes’ daily calculation, Davis earned $27.2 million on Thursday alone.

That will buy you a lot of DeShieldses. Or it could/should be buying the Rangers a much-needed starting pitcher.

A good investor should never skimp on his product. Owner Davis ought to know that.

He should follow his basketball neighbors’ and go ahead : Be a maverick.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @gilebreton

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