Texas Rangers: 2013 Winter Meetings

Agent: Wilson glad MLB didn't forget him

December, 13, 2013
12/13/13
8:10
AM CT
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It was 6:15 a.m. PT when Mark Rodgers called his client, Russell Wilson, to give him the unusual news that the Texas Rangers had drafted him and now owned his rights, paying $12,000 to do it.

"He was already at the complex and I had to explain to him what happened," Rodgers said. "He knew something was up for me to call that early. He was excited."

Rodgers said more than anything, Wilson was "captivated by the idea that baseball hadn't forgotten him."

So much so that Wilson expressed a desire to go to spring training, something Rodgers reiterated late Thursday.

"I guarantee you'll see him at some point in spring training," Rodgers said. "I don't know for how long, but he'll be there. And he'll probably take grounders and hit. He won't do something crazy, but he won't just hang out."

(Read full post)

Rangers sign four players to minor deals

December, 12, 2013
12/12/13
11:30
AM CT
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Texas Rangers agreed to terms with infielder/outfielder Brent Lillibridge, infielder Kevin Kouzmanoff, right-handed pitcher Armando Rodriguez and shortstop Josh Wilson and invited all four players to big league spring training.

The club also agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher Doug Mathis on a minor league deal.

From the club's release:

Lillibridge, 30, has seen big league action in each of the last six seasons. He split last season in the Cubs and Yankees organizations, batting .119 with 5 RBI in 20 total games for the two clubs at the big league level. He spent the rest of the year at Triple-A with Iowa and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, batting .277 with 12 home runs and 31 RBI in 89 contests. Lillibridge is a career .205 hitter over 358 games in the majors with Atlanta (2008), Chicago-AL (2009-12), Boston (2012), Cleveland (2012), Chicago-NL (2013), and New York-AL (2013). He has at least 10 big league starts at every position except catcher.

Kouzmanoff, 32, spent last season with Triple-A New Orleans in the Marlins system and batted .294 with 6 homers and 42 RBI over 60 games. His playing time was limited last year by three separate disabled list stints. He has a career .255 average with 85 home runs and 361 RBI over 672 major league games with Cleveland (2006), San Diego (2007-09), Oakland (2010-11), and Colorado (2011). He has played primarily third base in his career, but has also seen action at first base.

Rodriguez, who turns 26 next month, has spent his entire professional career in the Mets farm system. He split last year between Las Vegas (AAA) and Binghamton (AA), combining to go 2-4 with a 4.81 ERA (34 ER/63.2 IP) over 50 relief appearances, his first year to pitch exclusively in relief. The Dominican Republic native has averaged 9.2 strikeouts-per-9-innings in his minor league career.

Wilson, 32, hit .200 with one homer and 4 RBI in 30 games for Arizona in 2013, and also batted .219 with 4 homers and 20 RBI in 59 games for Triple-A Reno. Wilson has a career .225 average with 10 home runs and 71 RBI over 386 major league games with Florida (2005), Washington (2007), Tampa Bay (2007), Arizona (2009), San Diego (2009), Seattle (2009-10), Arizona (2011, 2013), and Milwaukee (2011). Primarily a shortstop throughout his career, Wilson has also seen extended action at second base and third base, and owns 3 major league appearances as a pitcher.

Mathis, 30, split last season in the Marlins and Pirates organizations, going a combined 5-9, 4.03 (54 ER/120.2 IP) in 26 games/22 starts for New Orleans (AAA) and Indianapolis (AAA). He had 89 strikeouts against 53 walks. Mathis saw his only major league action with Texas in 2008-09-10, combining to go 3-3 with a 4.84 ERA (47 ER/87.1 IP) in 45 games/6 starts. His last year in the Rangers system was 2010, and he has since played in the minors for San Francisco, Oakland, Boston, Miami, and Pittsburgh. He was originally selected by the Rangers in the 13th round of the 2005 June Draft out of the University of Missouri.

Rangers: Russell Wilson isn't a gimmick

December, 12, 2013
12/12/13
10:50
AM CT
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla -- At first blush, you might think that the Texas Rangers, because they were desperate to get some attention before flying home after four days at the winter meetings without signing any free agents or making any trades, selected Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in the Rule 5 draft. And at the low, low price of $12,000.

Rangers GM Jon Daniels, a huge New York Giants fan, will now be on a variety of ESPN NFL shows the next few days talking about one of the NFL's most prominent players. But Daniels didn't do it for that reason. This wasn't simply a case of the Rangers wanting a little publicity or paying a decent price for a motivational speaker. (Though they'll get publicity now, and again in February or March, if Wilson does come to spring training.)

Daniels talked to Wilson this morning and made it a point to tell him the club isn't trying to distract him and won't be bothering him until after the football season. But Wilson is excited he was drafted and told Daniels he wants to come to spring training. If the QB does, I'd expect him to do more than walk around and chat with the players like some dignitary. He'll probably want to take grounders, go through workouts and attempt to improve. It just seems that this is in Wilson's nature. At least the Rangers think so. All the reports they did on him when they scouted him as an infielder in high school and college, and all the reports they are getting now, indicate he has all the intangibles you want in a player.

That's the point. The Rangers preach a "winning environment." They talk to players and staff about doing all the little things it takes to win. Manager Ron Washington has cultivated a clubhouse that is loose and fun, but also focused. The players work hard. The Rangers say they believe Wilson has all those traits and they want him around their team.

The Rangers don't harbor any real hopes that Wilson will eventually give up throwing a football for a living. They know the odds are long that he'll ever grab a glove and actually play in a game. But that's not what drafting Wilson was about.

It's an investment of attitude. If young players see someone like Wilson working hard in spring training even after he's played a grueling NFL season for one of the league's top teams, perhaps they'll want to emulate him. It's about the message that Wilson can help send to everyone within the organization. Isn't that worth $12,000?

Rangers don't feel urgency to make moves

December, 11, 2013
12/11/13
5:40
PM CT
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- There is no clock in the Texas Rangers suite on an upper floor of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort.

"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.

Scott Boras: OF Shin-Soo Choo is 'revered'

December, 11, 2013
12/11/13
2:45
PM CT
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It finally came Wednesday. The annual Scott Boras news conference at the winter meetings that only a few of the lucky folks in the first row can actually hear.

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.

Lobby Talk: Get ready for replay

December, 11, 2013
12/11/13
2:00
PM CT
Note: Periodically during the winter meetings, we'll post some of the chatter going on in the lobby in regards to players the Texas Rangers may be interested in this week at Disney World.

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."

Other tidbits:

* 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.

Eric Nadel shares his top five calls

December, 11, 2013
12/11/13
11:00
AM CT
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Eric Nadel, who is now in the Hall of Fame, shared his top five calls as a Texas Rangers broadcaster during a conference call with reporters Wednesday. Nadel will be honored with the 2104 Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in baseball broadcasting in Cooperstown, N.Y., on July 26, 2014. Here are Nadel's top five moments in order:

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."

Lobby Talk: Patience, my friend, patience

December, 11, 2013
12/11/13
10:25
AM CT
Shin-Soo ChooDustin Bradford/Getty ImagesShin-Soo Choo's struggles against lefties last season is a concern for some teams.
Note: Periodically during the winter meetings, we'll post some of the chatter going on in the lobby in regards to players the Texas Rangers may be interested in this week at Disney World.

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.

Other notes:

• 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.

Rakuten president: No decision on Tanaka

December, 10, 2013
12/10/13
7:00
PM CT
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As of now, it’s still uncertain whether Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka will be posted.

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.

Stay tuned.

Daniels: Nelson Cruz doesn't owe club

December, 10, 2013
12/10/13
5:46
PM CT
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Some Texas Rangers fans may feel like outfielder Nelson Cruz owes the franchise after he missed 50 games last season for a club that sorely missed his offensive production. Cruz returned for Game 163, but didn't have a hit as the Rangers' season ended earlier than they expected.

But general manager Jon Daniels does not share that opinion.

"He had a decision to make," Daniels said late Tuesday afternoon. "I think one of the byproducts of that decision was that it impacted the club. There’s no two ways around that. But we all understood the position he was in. I can’t speak for everybody, but I don’t view it that way. I don’t think he owes us.

"I think he likes being here. He may factor that in. It’s been an overall positive relationship over the years. I don’t think one side owes the other."

Daniels said there was "nothing new" to report on Cruz. The club met with Adam Katz, Cruz's agent, on Monday and communication lines are still open. Sources indicated earlier Tuesday that the price for Shin-Soo Choo was at a level that was higher than the Rangers wanted to pay and that the club was leaning toward Cruz at this point. But the question is whether the two sides can agree on a deal that makes sense.

Daniels and his staff continue to survey the market to see what is out there and if it fits with the club.

“There are good players out there, but do we want to pay what it would cost in contract or young players?” Daniels said. “Does it make sense for us right now? There are a few select guys we’re still keeping tabs on. But we’re not involved with as many of the big names as we’re rumored to be.”

Other notes:

* Daniels said he met with some teams and agents Tuesday, but had nothing specific to report.

* The Rangers may add some depth to the bullpen, but Daniels said they aren’t really involved in bullpen additions. “If anything, we’ve fielded calls on our guys,” Daniels said.

* Tanner Scheppers is preparing as if he’ll start. “He’s interested in starting, but he’s also interested in closing,” Daniels said. “We know he’s pretty dominant in the eighth inning.” It’s more likely Robbie Ross starts in spring training than Scheppers.

* Daniels said they won't just bring an outfielder in as a "safety net" for Michael Choice, but said there's a "good chance" they'd bring in a veteran guy if he fits with the club.

* Daniels said just because the team may have missed on some injured players in the past, they're not hesitant to do it again. Daniels mentioned Milton Bradley and Eric Gagne were successes on that front and he believes Joakim Soria will be as well. He also noted that Lance Berkman and Brandon Webb were not. "When you take those kinds of chances, you know there's added risk involved," Daniels said. "But we're not afraid to go down that path again. You go in knowing you have a chance to miss, but you hit pretty big when you get an impact player on a small deal like that."

* Daniels and manager Ron Washington will attend a Wednesday morning presentation by MLB regarding replay and how everything will work.

Can ballpark help Arencibia's numbers?

December, 10, 2013
12/10/13
4:27
PM CT
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- J.P. Arencibia knows that his power is well ahead of his average. He's hit 62 homers in his three full seasons in the big leagues, yet has a .214 average and a .260 on-base percentage in that span.

The Rangers want to see that power from Arencibia, who was officially signed Tuesday at the winter meetings. But they hope that along with it comes a steady climb of his batting average and OBP. Perhaps hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark in Arlington will help the right-handed hitter.

In a small sample size, Arencibia has a .256 batting average (11-for-43) with seven homers, 10 RBIs and eight runs scored. That includes two multi-hit games and a .360 average (9-for-25) with the bases loaded. Arencibia has four home runs in his last four games at the park.

"I don’t know what it is, but whatever it is I’d like to bottle it up," Arencibia said. "I’ve enjoyed the park. One thing I enjoy is the heat. I really do like playing in the hot weather. That’s what I grew up doing in Miami. I enjoy that part of it and the atmosphere. The stadium always has a large amount of fans and that makes playing more enjoyable."

Arencibia gives the Rangers a catching tandem at an affordable price -- for around $5 million -- and he said he has no issues with his role as the backup to Geovany Soto.

"My job is to go out there and try to work with Geo every day, whether it be going over scouting reports or playing," Arencibia said. "It’s about putting the best team out there and helping out pitchers get through the games."

Lobby Talk: Choo price too high for Texas?

December, 10, 2013
12/10/13
1:05
PM CT
Note: Periodically during the winter meetings, we'll post some of the chatter going on in the lobby in regards to players the Texas Rangers may be interested in this week at Disney World.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It appears the price for Shin-Soo Choo, at least right now, is in the Jacoby Ellsbury range (in terms of years and salary) and that's not a price the Rangers want to pay, according to sources. Ellsbury signed a seven-year, $153 million deal with the New York Yankees this offseason.

One source said it wouldn't be fair to say Texas was "out" on Choo, but they aren't "in" on him at the current rate. His price would have to drop for Texas to get more aggressive. The club is leaning toward Nelson Cruz, if a deal can be worked out. It's possible Cruz could end up in a position of choosing from a slightly longer-term deal with one club or taking a little less to stay with Texas. But we'll see.

The Rangers still want a power bat and Cruz fits in nicely to that plan. They know him and are comfortable with him. The question is whether Cruz's comfort with the Rangers is enough to get him to Texas in a deal that works for both sides.

Other notes:

* Whenever Cliff Lee's name is floated, it's difficult not to think of the Rangers. But beyond the pieces it might take to get him is the $25 million he's owed in 2014, the $25 million he gets in 2015 and the $27.5 vesting option for 2016 (or a $12.5 million buyout). That's a lot of money to pay a 35-year-old pitcher. It doesn't seem very likely at this point.

* The Rangers have "some" interest in Corey Hart as they canvas bats in case the bigger names fall through.

* The club has discussed Michael Morse as well. That's something we detailed in our "Hot Stove Talk" series yesterday. Read that here.

* Lots of chatter about a proposed three-way deal between the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels and Arizona Diamondbacks. Our buddy Keith Law reports that the deal would send Mark Trumbo to the Diamondbacks with Adam Eaton going to Chicago and Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs ending up with the Angels.

Manager wants power (how about Cruz?)

December, 9, 2013
12/09/13
5:29
PM CT
Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington will leave the shopping at the winter meetings to general manager Jon Daniels and his crew. But the skipper still has a wish list. And on top of it is another power hitter.

"I'd like production," Washington said when asked what he wants. "Probably a middle-of-the-order guy. Run production."

Washington went on to explain that with Leonys Martin set to lead off, barring another signing, he'd rather see the club utilize its resources on someone who can drive in runs from that key portion of the lineup.

Obviously, there are still a few guys on the free-agent market who could do that, but Nelson Cruz has to be close to the top of the list. The Rangers have interest in Shin-Soo Choo, who offers production, but does so from the leadoff spot.

The Rangers met with Cruz's agent on Monday in Orlando, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney. The plan is for the two sides to meet again. Olney notes that the Rangers are comfortable right now with two years and maybe an option for the right-handed hitting outfielder. Cruz wants at least three years. So we'll see when and if this gets done.

If the current team stays basically the same, Washington said he'd use Mitch Moreland in a variety of roles.

"Mitch has played a little outfield. He will play some first base, and Prince will get a spell," Washington said. "He can also slide in the DH spot. So there are still at-bats there from Mitch, and we certainly intend on using them."

The obvious advantage to Cruz is the Rangers know him and know what he can do. But he's 33 years old and the Rangers want to be sure they have what they feel is the right contract length. Cruz has also dealt with his share of injuries, likely the biggest reason Texas would like to keep the contract shorter. Stay tuned.

With World Series over, Rangers get busy

October, 31, 2013
10/31/13
7:40
AM CT
Now that the World Series is over and October baseball gives way to November Hot Stove, the Texas Rangers will immediately get busy. Among the decisions that need to be made soon (before the Winter Meetings begin at Disney World in early December):

* Nelson Cruz. It should come as no surprise that the Rangers will make a qualifying offer to the outfielder. That offer of $14.1 million makes sense because if Cruz takes it, the club has its top power hitter back in 2014. If not and he signs somewhere else, the club would get draft pick compensation. It's an easy call, frankly. Cruz, 33, is expected to decline the offer and try to get a multi-year deal.

That's the second part of the equation. Do the Rangers offer Cruz a two- or three-year deal that could eat a decent chunk of their available money within a budget that Daniels has said won't change much from last year? He's not exactly a young player anymore, so it's a difficult choice.

* Joe Nathan. The club has three days to decide whether to offer Nathan a chance to accept the option on his contract. Nathan's deal includes a $9 million club option, but because the nearly 39-year-old (his birthday is Nov. 22) finished 55 games in 2013, he has the right to void that option. The Rangers must choose if they want to bring him back at that number based on their budget and the fact that they have some options at closer (like Joakim Soria or Tanner Scheppers). They could also just buy Nathan out for $750,000. If the Rangers do offer the option and Nathan refuses it, they don't have to pay the buyout.

Nathan, by the way, has talked about wanting a two-year deal. But if the Rangers choose to exercise the option, Nathan would have 48 hours to decide. (My bet is they won't exercise the option at that price. But we'll see.)

* Other teams can not negotiate with the Rangers' free agents until the sixth day after the World Series. So Texas has a brief exclusive window to talk to guys who could seek deals elsewhere. Cruz is the biggest name, but Matt Garza, David Murphy and catchers A.J. Pierzynski and Geovany Soto join Nathan on that list as well.

* Early shopping. The Rangers waited a while last year before signing Pierzynski and Lance Berkman late in the offseason, because they had to wait and see what Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke would do. But they've shown a willingness to jump in early if it makes sense. That's how they got Nathan two years ago, and that signing has certainly worked out. We'll see if they decide to shop and buy a little earlier this offseason as opposed to the last one based on their needs and budget.

* Arbitration. Some of these don't look too difficult. Neal Cotts proved he was a valuable member of the bullpen and could be a guy the Rangers look at signing for more than one year (getting through his final year of arbitration and one of his free agent years). Neftali Feliz, Alexi Ogando and Craig Gentry should be back. The toughest call might be Mitch Moreland. MLB Trade Rumors, which does a good job of forecasting arbitration numbers, has Moreland coming in around $2.7 million. The club must decide if they want to retain him at that number or use that money elsewhere.

* Lance Berkman. This is another decision that really isn't a decision. Berkman couldn't stay healthy after the team signed him to an $10 million contract in the offseason. The club won't be exercising the option on Berkman, but it's still on the "to do" list. The buyout will cost them $1 million.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.320 17 64 63
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 17
RBIA. Beltre 64
RA. Beltre 63
OPSA. Beltre .875
WY. Darvish 10
ERAY. Darvish 3.06
SOY. Darvish 182