Rangers still working to fill some needs

December, 22, 2012
12/22/12
8:00
AM CT
Just because the Texas Rangers have missed out on some big names doesn't mean general manager Jon Daniels and his staff are simply shutting down for the offseason and hoping things work out in 2013.

There are a variety of ways to improve a club, and even if you can't do it with a big splash (and with this front office, an ownership group with money and a farm system with assets, a splash is always possible), you can do it in other ways.

The biggest need, if you ask me, was catcher. Geovany Soto is a fine backstop defensively and working with the pitchers, but he hit just .198 last season. With Mike Napoli still trying to get a deal finalized with the Boston Red Sox, the Rangers needed a catcher with some pop. They got one of the top ones left in a thin catching market. A.J. Pierzynski passed his physical on Friday, but a deal likely won't be announced until after Christmas, when the league offices fully reopen.

But bringing Pierzynski on board, at the reported price tag of $7.5 million, is a good deal for Texas. It's just a one-year contract for a 36-year-old player and he's coming off one of the best seasons of his career, hitting 27 homers and driving in 77 runs. He could split time behind the plate with Soto and be in the DH rotation when needed. And after losing Josh Hamilton, it's not bad to have another lefty bat in a right-handed-heavy lineup.

With catcher now done, the Rangers can still look to upgrade the lineup and build on pitching depth. They are doing that more in the bullpen than anywhere else to this point. They got Josh Lindblom in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies for Michael Young. They've got a group of guys that will be competing for bullpen spots that weren't with the club last year, like Cory Burns, Coty Woods, Tommy Hottovy and Joakim Soria (who probably won't be ready until May or June).

The club has four starters in the rotation and is prepared to let some of the younger pitchers -- like Martin Perez and Justin Grimm, for instance --fight for the fifth spot knowing they also have reinforcements in Neftali Feliz and Colby Lewis preparing to come back at some point around midseason. But if they want to add to the starting depth, they could check in on the free-agent market. Kyle Lohse, a Scott Boras client, is likely the best pitcher left.

As for outfield, Michael Bourn is drawing the most attention after most of the big free-agent outfielders have signed. Nick Swisher is also still out there, and he's a player the club has shown some interest in.

So Daniels and company will keep searching for ways to improve. But despite not making a big splash to this point, they have addressed some of the team's needs. They've got time to do more of that between now and mid-February when the club arrives in Surprise, Ariz., for spring training.
Richard Durrett joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He writes about colleges, the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers. Richard spent nine years at The Dallas Morning News covering the Rangers, Stars, colleges, motorsports and high schools.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Yu Darvish
WINS ERA SO IP
9 2.88 154 122
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .325
HRA. Beltre 14
RBIA. Beltre 53
RA. Beltre 52
OPSA. Beltre .889
ERAY. Darvish 2.88
SOY. Darvish 154