Simpson concedes higher payroll
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers owner and co-chairman of the board Bob Simpson is no Jerry Jones.
Simpson, unlike his counterpart with the Dallas Cowboys, doesn't have or want the general manager title.
"I don't, and for the reasons everyone else wishes he wasn't," Simpson said Friday. "I like Jerry, but we've got great people, so leave it to them."
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Of course, someone has to be willing to sign the checks. Simpson and co-chairman Ray Davis have done that this offseason, busting their original budget in the process.
Simpson concedes that payroll is between $130 million and $135 million for 2014, a higher figure than the $120 million it was just a week ago.
"We have the Rangers at a higher level of play than I enjoyed most of my fanhood, and our goal is to sustain that so people can look forward to, along with ourselves, to a winning tradition here," Simpson said. "How far do you push that? What's the right balance? We're getting the best advice from what I think is one of the best [front-office] teams in baseball. And so our comment at the time is we think we have a complete team right now and we're ready to go deep in the playoffs."
Simpson said the payroll was just under $60 million when his group acquired the bankrupt club out of auction in 2010. But with additional money coming in 2015 from a big TV deal signed a few years ago, ownership has shown a willingness to boost payroll.
Put those big expenditures alongside the $111 million investment in Yu Darvish, another $80 million (or $96 million if an option vests) for third baseman Adrian Beltre and the $15 million per season the Rangers will pay Elvis Andrus starting next year through 2022, plus another option year if the club wants it. And none of that includes extensions for the rotation.
All of it happened since Simpson and Davis, along with a slew of other investors, purchased the club.
Simpson estimates that between player signings, ballpark improvements and investments in the club's international operations, ownership has put in an additional $120 million since acquiring the organization a little more than three years ago.
Simpson, who was at Choo's introductory news conference Friday, said not to expect anything else big this winter. He was asked about Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and indicated it was unlikely the club would be high bidders for the right-hander.
"We're probably comfortable where we are in terms of financial commitments," Simpson said. "Tanaka would be a tough thing."
Simpson has a bigger goal in mind: Make the Rangers a sustainable club financially to ensure they can compete consistently each season but without reaching the spending heights of the New York Yankees, for example.
"I'd always thought from personally watching the Rangers that this is possible -- you could eventually achieve top-five baseball team every year and have a model where it sustains itself," Simpson said. "It does take an aggressive fan support to make this happen, but we've had two records the last couple of years and we've proven that the Metroplex is a baseball town."
Simpson said he and Davis aren't looking for "a big take-home check" but rather an investment that stands on its own and produces a winner.
"You can't always subsidize it and you don't want to because it will last longer if it feeds itself, and so we've bridged it since we got a hold of it with the knowledge, but that's the way we've planned," Simpson said. "So success comes first, but we appreciate the growing fan base and it's going to take both of us to make this happen where we're prepared to support an off-year if we had to but where the fans come year after year."
Simpson just wants it to pay off with a World Series ring. He said the Rangers should be considered the favorite in the American League West now.
"Part of what we think we've done is bring a new level of play to the Metroplex, and the momentum was gathering when we bought the team and momentum is a hard thing to get," said Simpson, who helped buy the team just a few months before the franchise's first World Series appearance in 2010. "So what we're trying to do is now that we've captured it is to preserve it."
He believes his front-office staff, the investments in marquee players and the club's farm system will allow the team to stay competitive and eventually reach the goal of bringing a championship to its fans.
"Fans aren't going to come without the success, but they will come," Simpson said. "This is a baseball town, and we're betting on it."
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