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Rangers start GM Meetings looking to improve

11/10/2014

PHOENIX -- After a season in which the Texas Rangers lost 95 games and the manager who took them to consecutive World Series appearances resigned, this offseason will not be a time to relax.

Yes, Aaron Rodgers told Green Bay Packers fans to relax on Twitter, which was followed by the Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James’ own comments of calming down the fan base after some recent struggles.

Rangers GM Jon Daniels comes to the two-day GM Meetings here looking to make moves. It’s not time to panic, but it is time to do something.

The Rangers’ payroll will remain near the $133.5 million it was in 2014 and Daniels isn’t trying to open the checkbook for a high-priced free agent such as Jon Lester.

Daniels instead will seek trades while being mindful of the riches in the Rangers' Double-A system, where most of the young talent resides.

The Rangers have made a passing interest in oft-injured right-handed starter Josh Johnson. There was a rumor late last week that the Dodgers were trying to push Carl Crawford on the Rangers in exchange for Elvis Andrus.

A source said the Rangers were not interested in Crawford.

Finding a trade partner isn’t the hardest thing about the job for Daniels and his staff. It’s making sure the deal works.

Last season, the Rangers traded Ian Kinsler for Prince Fielder and the first year of the deal was a disaster. Fielder lasted just 42 games before undergoing neck surgery.

Kinsler, after joking or being semi-serious about hoping the Rangers would go 0-162, was masterful in 2014. He played in 161 games and produced a slash line of .275/.307/.420.

If the Rangers make a big trade again, Daniels can’t afford to let this go sour on him. Daniels has said pitching is the No. 1 priority going into free agency.

At the top of the rotation are Yu Darvish and Derek Holland. Darvish started and finished the season on the DL, which some viewed as a negative.

Yet, Darvish is the ace of the staff and one of the best at his craft in baseball. Holland responded well after his recovery from knee surgery and quieted his critics.

There is a need to fill three spots in the rotation and Matt Harrison (back) and Martin Perez (elbow) might not be reliable suitors at this time. It leaves the door open for working a deal or quite possibly giving Miles Mikolas, Nick Tepesch and Nick Martinez another chance to fill things out.

Daniels is apparently in need of a corner outfielder. New manager Jeff Banister could move Shin-Soo Choo from left to right. A full-time replacement isn’t currently on the 40-man roster.

Can Jake Smolinski win an outfield job? Or Jim Adduci?

They sound more like No. 4 outfielders than starters on a big league club. Daniels could focus in free agency on Torii Hunter, Billy Butler or Michael Morse.

While Fielder and Mitch Moreland (ankle surgery) are expected to return from injuries, getting another bat isn’t a bad idea.

So Daniels and his staff come here to continue the process of fixing this Rangers franchise.

Maybe things were getting fixed when the Rangers couldn’t reach an agreement with veteran right-handed starter Colby Lewis, who tied Darvish for the team lead with 10 wins.

Just maybe, Daniels wants something better.