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Monday, December 5, 2011
Daniels not looking to make big changes

By Richard Durrett

DALLAS -- There is no temptation from Rangers general manager Jon Daniels to vastly remake the club just because they haven't won the big prize yet. After all, they have won back-to-back American League championships .

"We're not looking to make wholesale changes," Daniels said. "We're looking to get better."

The GM and his staff made the short drive to their suite at the Hilton Anatole with a shopping list of sorts. And Daniels thinks of it as two columns of stuff. In one column are the ingredients needed to complete the club for 2012. That includes a utility infielder to help bolster the bench (one that can play shortstop) and more relief help (preferably left-handed).

The other column are players Daniels refers to as "luxury" items. That's where the frontline starter comes in. The Rangers aren't really too interested in adding No. 3 or No. 4 starters. They've got those. Where they can really upgrade is getting a high-end starter. The two biggest names in the free agent market are on their list. Texas is expected to meet with C.J. Wilson's agent soon, likely tonight. They are also expected to meet with Mark Buehrle's agent.

Everything the Rangers do in regards to bigger-money deals is done with the future in mind. They will have key members of the core up for contracts in the coming years, starting with Josh Hamilton in 2012. Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz come up shortly thereafter, not to mention the pre-arbitration guys that will hit arbitration as the countdown toward free agency begins.

"You have to be aware of the payroll," Daniels said.

Daniels believes in the group he has and doesn't want to alter it. The team has good clubhouse chemistry, to go along with talent and skill and is quickly becoming a veteran group when it comes to postseason runs.

But he knows they can get better. One area would be first base, but the team continues to express confidence in Mitch Moreland. The 26-year-old struggled in the second half of 2011 and in the postseason thanks in large part to a wrist injury. He had surgery and the recovery time is eight to 12 weeks. If it takes the full 12 weeks, that's right around when games start in Surprise, Ariz. Daniels said he talked to the surgeon and is confident Moreland will be ready.

Daniels was asked if he'd consider a big move at first base (alluding to Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols) and the GM said: "Don't have any plans to."

So the Rangers continue to search for pieces that can help their team -- both needs and luxuries -- as they keep their core group together.

"It's not a time to re-make the club," Daniels said.