The Texas Rangers made a surprise pick in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft, normally an event that simply ends Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings without little fanfare. But on Thursday at Walt Disney World, the Rangers decided they wanted some of the Wilson magic on their team and selected the former second baseman, taking him from the Colorado Rockies' system. It cost them $12,000 to do so and he goes on the club's restricted list, since he's in the NFL right now.
The Rangers know Wilson is settling in to a successful career as the signal-caller for a Super Bowl contender. But they like Wilson's character and athletic ability and even if baseball isn't in Wilson's future, Texas wants him around. If Wilson's willing, perhaps that includes coming to spring training in Arizona after football season is over and being around the club.
"It feels like Las Vegas," general manager Jon Daniels said.
As in Vegas, time doesn't matter at this point to the Rangers. They don't hear the ticking of any kind of deadline in their heads, either. For Daniels and his staff, they feel like they're in a position of wanting to add certain things but not feeling like they have to do anything.
"We like our team. We like the foundation we’ve got," Daniels said Wednesday afternoon. "We like our young players coming. We don’t feel any sense of desperation or urgency to make a move or a deal we don’t like. We’ve put ourselves in a position where we can be a little bit picky. We’d prefer to get our business done as soon as we can and move on to other things. But if it develops later or doesn’t develop at all, we still like our club."
Daniels has made it clear he'd like a bat for the lineup. But he doesn't want just any bat and he's not willing to pay any price, either.
"Everyone wants to go to the tree and find a shiny, new present," Daniels said. "You just have to make sure it’s the right thing."
Texas has talked with Nelson Cruz's agent, Adam Katz, a few times at these winter meetings. They'd like Cruz back, but on a shorter-term deal than the slugger wants at this point. Perhaps, down the road, the Rangers may feel the need to inch closer to Cruz's price. Perhaps Cruz will feel the need to inch closer to the Rangers. But right now, with Cruz and Shin-Soo Choo still on the market and the list of teams interested in their services appearing to diminish, they don't have to feel rushed to make a deal.
"If you’re in a position where you need to sign a player, you're in trouble," Daniels said. "It’s not hard to figure it out. You don’t want to be in that spot, and fortunately we’re not."
Understand that it doesn't mean Daniels and his staff are done. I still believe they'll get a hitter at some point soon. But they aren't going to overpay or go way beyond their comfort zone. They don't feel like they have to do that. And they don't feel like they have to fly home from Orlando with one, either.
There were probably 100 media members -- but it felt like 1,000 -- pointing microphones, recorders and cameras as if they were spears at Boras, poking for answers in regards to Shin-Soo Choo's future, among Boras' other clients.
And Boras didn't really offer many answers. He did say he is receiving offers on behalf of Choo and that he was "certainly in the middle of it" in regards to negotiations. The agent said Choo is a patient, thoughtful guy who wants to take time to look at all his options and talk things over with his wife. Boras said some of the offers have come from teams that are "building and some expecting to win" in 2014.
"He's really a player I think is revered," Boras said.
Boras wouldn't get into many details, but was asked about teams with money talking about staying within certain budgets.
"Budgets are a human design rather than a physical barrier," Boras said.
That might be the quote of the meetings so far.
The Rangers don't want to sign Choo at price levels close to the 7-year, $153 million Jacoby Ellsbury got. But if the price drops, that's a different story.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Since we don't have a whirlwind of trades and signings to discuss (at least not yet), conversation here at Disney World has turned to instant replay.
The managers and general managers were briefed this morning by Major League Baseball on how parts of the system are going to work. Several managers shared some of those details.
Each manager gets one challenge in the first through sixth innings. If you get that challenge right, you get an extra one. But after the sixth inning, it's up to the umpires to get together. And two managers I talked to expect the umpires to do just that, saying they want to get the calls right just like everybody else.
Managers can't challenge everything. For example, they can't challenge the "vicinity" plays at second base. I would imagine that's because those plays would be challenged all the time and that it's up to the discretion of the umpire to figure out where players are and how that should be called. Never mind that keeping those plays the way they are now might help with injuries. If you force players to stay on the bag longer to be sure they get that call and aren't overturned, you're likely to have more players run over. Just a thought.
But fair and foul calls in the outfield are fair game. I asked two managers which call they think will be challenged the most. The answer was the same by both of them: stolen bases.
How many times have we seen the umpires have trouble with whether the runner got his hand on the bag before the tag? Now they can slow that down in replay and, hopefully, get the call right more often. So look for that.
I also wonder if a manager hasn't used his challenge in the first five innings, might he challenge the next close call in the sixth inning no matter what or risk losing the challenge? Again, that's just me speculating.
I didn't hear much complaining about the rules. As one skipper told me: "When Tony La Russa and Joe Torre support it, it lends credibility."
* Word is Scott Boras will appear in the lobby this afternoon. We'll see if he says anything of substance regarding Shin-Soo Choo.
* Most of the folks I've talked to expect very little to happen today and tomorrow morning, especially on free agents. Two agents told me they think Choo and Nelson Cruz will go into January. We'll see.
* When I asked one Rangers official about the lack of activity, he said that even though there wasn't the same rhythm at these meetings, the staff has had a chance to work together and even do "a little bonding." That's certainly not a bad thing.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It wasn't a huge day at Major League Baseball's winter meetings, but there was enough activity to create a ripple effect. Hot Stove moves rarely exist in a vacuum, so every trade or free-agent signing is destined to have repercussions for players who are next in the pecking order.
The Seattle Mariners, who've been quite adept at making news this offseason, continued to reshape their lineup with a pair of transactions Wednesday. They signed former Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Corey Hart to a one-year, guaranteed $6 million deal, with incentives that could bring the total package to $13 million. And they traded reliever Carter Capps to Miami for first baseman Logan Morrison, who had unofficially lost his job when the Marlins signed free agent Garrett Jones.
1. Rangers' pennant-clinching moment against the New York Yankees in 2010: Neftali Feliz struck out Alex Rodriguez. "That was such an emotional moment. The ballpark just exploded in joy. It was maybe the most exciting, most emotional moment of my life."
2. Nolan's 5,000th strikeout in 1989: "It was a big national event and it was first time I got to make a dramatic call. I was so happy. I was doing the middle innings then and it just happened to come up. My call was on the TV highlight that ran nationally because the game wasn't televised locally in Texas. My mother got to see it on the 'Today Show' in New York."
3. Rangers' second pennant in 2011: The Rangers went back to the World Series for a second consecutive year. That victory was a blowout over the Detroit Tigers in Game 6.
4. Rangers score 30 runs in Baltimore in 2007: "Ramon Vazquez hit a home run in the ninth in Baltimore to make the Rangers the first team in the Modern Era of baseball history to score 30 in a game.
5. Josh Hamilton's four-homer night in Baltimore in 2012: "That was incredible."
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- There's a noticeable lack of excitement and activity in the lobby of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Heck, I was pumped when the Chick-fil-A cow showed up yesterday. And we're waiting for Mickey to swing by too.
It just isn't the same as it's been the past few years, in large part because of how massive last week was in the baseball world. So many signings and deals occurred even before teams and agents arrived in Orlando.
But because of that activity, there may be an advantage to playing the waiting game now for the Rangers. They still want a bat and two logical choices on the free-agent market remain in Shin-Soo Choo and Nelson Cruz.
Choo would give the club a true leadoff hitter and fill an outfield need. But agent Scott Boras is seeking a deal similar to what Jacoby Ellsbury received (seven years, $153 million) and the Rangers aren't comfortable doing that. A few scouts in the lobby noted that the issue with Choo and his splits (he hit .215 against lefties last year with none of his 21 homers coming against them) is that he could be a true platoon player in a few years. Do you want to be paying him like a starter well into his 30s?
Cruz knows this is his final shot at a long-term deal and appears to be wanting a four-year deal. The Rangers would prefer something in the two-year or two-year plus an option range. But you wonder if the two sides could meet somewhere in that three-year area and get this done.
But here's the thing: The markets for Choo and Cruz appear to be shrinking. The Detroit Tigers signed Rajai Davis, meaning they don't need Choo. The Red Sox don't appear very interested. The Reds are said to have interest, but would need to make a trade to sign him. The Mariners could certainly go out and make another massive signing, so they're sitting out there. But it's not as if there appear to be a ton of takers for Choo.
So why not wait? The club wants a shorter-term deal for Cruz. He's comfortable in Texas and the Rangers know that. What if the market for Choo continues to dwindle and his price comes down? Then the Rangers, perhaps, would have their choice. Patience could be the key here. There's no reason to rush.
The Rangers continue to check in on various secondary players to either fill out the bench or to have backup, complementary pieces should Cruz and Choo (and other trade opportunities) fall through. That includes Eric Chavez, a player manager Ron Washington is familiar with from Oakland. Chavez, in fact, credited Washington for helping him win a Gold Glove. The Rangers are obviously covered at third base, but could use a backup that can hit off the bench. Jamey Carroll is another utility infield candidate, as first reported by Jon Heyman.
Getting some buzz from teams that have at least discussed Mitch Moreland. Whether that turns into anything remains to be seen.
There hasn't been much talk of arms when it comes to the Rangers. It doesn't mean they don't want to add depth. They do. But when it comes to the bullpen, it's on the back burner a bit right now.
Rumors are we should find out more about whether this posting system for players coming from Japan has been approved on Thursday. But that's just a rumor.
Lots of folks talking about how it's about time that Eric Nadel won the Ford C. Frick Award. He's well-respected and well-liked in the industry. Rangers fans, be thankful you have him.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Texas Rangers radio play-by-play voice Eric Nadel has won the Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in baseball broadcasting. He will be honored on Saturday, July 26, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y., as part of Hall of Fame weekend.
This was Nadel's fourth consecutive year as a finalist for the award, given annually by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Next season will be Nadel's 20th as the lead voice on radio broadcasts and 36th year of broadcasting Rangers baseball. It's the longest tenure of any announcer in the history of the franchise and the second-longest continuous current stint with one team in the American League. He was inducted into the club's Hall of Fame in 2012.
Nadel joined the Rangers in 1979 and called games on television and radio during his first three seasons. Starting in 1982, he and Mark Holtz were the radio duo for 13 seasons before Holtz, who passed away in 1997, moved over to television in 1995.
Nadel called the final outs of Game 6 of the 2010 and 2011 AL Championship Series, wins that sent the franchise to its only two trips to the World Series. He also called Nolan Ryan's 5,000th strikeout (Aug. 22, 1989) and Texas' record 30-run game at Baltimore in 2007.
Nadel, a graduate of Brown, got his start calling football and hockey games on the university's radio station. He also had stints with minor league hockey teams in Minnesota and Oklahoma City before landing in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
"I congratulate my friend Eric Nadel on winning the 2014 Ford C. Frick Award. For more than 30 years, Eric has brought the Texas Rangers and the great game of baseball to fans all over the Southwest," Bush said in a statement. "His passion for the sport is evident in every broadcast. Any announcer can call a game, but Eric brings his listeners into the stadium. He is a wonderful ambassador for our national pastime."
Nadel called Ryan's 5,000th strikeout in 1989 as it happened during his innings to call play-by-play as he teamed up with the late Mark Holtz on the radio broadcasts during that time.
"I am so pleased for Eric Nadel on his selection as the 2014 Ford C. Frick Award recipient," Ryan said. "Eric’s description and analysis of thousands of Texas Rangers games over the last 35 years have been a joy for the fans. He has always made the games entertaining and informative. He is a Hall of Famer in every sense of the word and is very deserving of the honor."
While the market isn't great for Morse this winter, several teams are reportedly interested, even with Morse looking for a one-year deal in the $7-8 million range.
One of them is the Houston Astros. Brian McTaggart of MLB.com writes Tuesday evening that Morse would fill the Astros' need for a first basemen if healthy.
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Rakuten Golden Eagles president Yozo Tachibana arrived at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday and said he was disappointed with the new proposed posting system and that he isn’t sure whether Tanaka will post before the 2014 season. He said no decision has been made.
Tachibana spoke with reporters in English and then Japanese, and told the Japanese media that he won’t stop Tanaka from posting if that’s what Tanaka wants. Tachibana added that he plans on meeting with Tanaka next week.
Assuming the new posting system is ratified, the maximum bid would be $20 million. If more than one team bids that amount, Tanaka can negotiate with all of them and determine where he wants to play. Because the Japanese club only gets $20 million as opposed to last year, when Yu Darvish’s club received a $51.7 million posting fee, it’s possible Tanaka could stay for one more year. That way the Golden Eagles would get another season of Tanaka to market and then they’d still get the $20 million when he’s posted.
But it sounds as if Tanaka will discuss it with his club officials, including Tachibana, next week and reach a decision.
If you’re the Rangers and Tanaka is posted, why not make a bid? Only the team that ends up signing Tanaka has to pay the $20 million fee. So why not see what happens? Tanaka could add another arm on a long-term deal to the rotation and give the Rangers even more depth. If the bidding gets too high for the Rangers, they can back out. But I'd expect them to at least put in the bid and explore it, though the price may not be something they can end up doing.
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