Rangers are hearing from teams on infielders
Texas looking for right fit, is in no rush to trade Kinsler, Andrus or Profar
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are getting interest in their middle infielders from other teams, general manager Jon Daniels said Tuesday morning. That doesn't mean the Rangers are in a rush to make a deal for second baseman Ian Kinsler, shortstop Elvis Andrus or utility infielder Jurickson Profar, even though teams like the Cardinals are openly searching for infield help.
"They're all good players," Daniels said. "I think we're getting a sense of what the possibilities are and we're narrowing our focus down. I don't view it as inevitable. We may not ultimately trade any of them. It has to be the right deal and the right fit for the club. We value all three guys.
"Some people view it as we have to trade one of them. We don't view it that way. It all depends on the specific situation. You're talking about three guys who are entering their prime and under control for multiple years. If we consider anything, it would have to be in line with that."
Clubs are interested in more than just the Rangers' infielders. Clubs also know the Rangers are deep in pitching and have asked about that as well. The Rangers have a set rotation in Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Martin Perez and Alexi Ogando, with Nick Tepesch and possibly Robbie Ross in reserve.
But pitching remains a highly coveted commodity, giving the Rangers another area to deal from strength and possibly replenish it cheaply through the free-agent market or from within the organization.
"It all comes down to what's the right fit for the club," Daniels said.
The Rangers are still in the early stages of the offseason. Daniels was busy at the General Managers Meetings last week in Orlando, Fla., but the Winter Meetings are still three weeks away.
The Rangers are interested in upgrading their offense before the winter is over, but right now they are being very protective of their assets, whether it's players being asked about by other clubs in trade or the financial resources they're willing to spend toward free agents.
There are free agents that interest the Rangers, including outfielders Carlos Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury and Curtis Granderson, designated hitter Kendrys Morales and catcher Brian McCann. There is speculation the Rangers like one player more than others and that they are going hard after McCann in particular.
But the Rangers also know that the early asking price on all these free agents is steep, especially after hearing the usual sales pitch from agent Scott Boras on Choo, Ellsbury and Morales. They also remain in contract with B.B. Abbott, who represents McCann. The Rangers also know they will have to give up their first-round Draft pick if they do sign one of these players, as all received qualifying offers.
"There are a lot of players out there we like," Daniels said. "It comes down to the fit, the dollars and the Draft pick. It all factors in."
The Rangers would not have to give up a Draft pick if they re-sign outfielder Nelson Cruz, and they remain in touch with agent Adam Katz.
"Nothing has changed," Daniels said. "Right now, Adam is getting a sense of the market."
So are the Rangers. As much as a player like Choo could upgrade their offense, the Rangers have to be concerned about paying a premium price for a player who hit .207 against left-handers over the past two years and does not grade out well defensively. But it's that way with almost every free agent. There are both the positives and the negatives to consider while dealing with sticker shock.
"You're starting to see some guys come off the board," Daniels said. "We've probably spent more time talking to clubs than agents, but that's starting to balance out."
If the asking price of some of these free agents starts pushing $100 million or more, the Rangers could back off and look elsewhere for offensive help. That's why Texas has spent so much time talking to other clubs about trades rather than aggressively pursuing the free-agent market.
Daniels remains closely guarded when talking about trade possibilities. It's no secret that the Dodgers have extra outfielders and are looking for a second baseman. But the Rangers aren't particularly interested in Andre Ethier in a trade for Kinsler and have concerns about Matt Kemp's contract and health issues even if the Dodgers were willing to trade him.
The Cardinals need a shortstop and have talked with the Rangers. But Texas isn't interested in trading either Profar or Andrus for first baseman Matt Adams, who isn't viewed as much of an upgrade over Mitch Moreland. The Cardinals, however, are loaded with pitching, with a rotation that includes Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, Lance Lynn and postseason phenom Michael Wacha.
If the Rangers were able to acquire pitching from the Cardinals, it could allow them to use Ogando in a trade for offensive help from another team. That would lessen the need for the Rangers to spend as much money on offense in the free-agent market.
The Rangers also know that the Rays are willing to trade pitcher David Price. Texas is interested to a certain degree, but also understands the Rays need to extract a high price for a pitcher who won the American League Cy Young Award in 2012 and is two years away from free agency. If the Rangers traded for Price, it would mean another huge hit to their farm system.
The Rangers are viewed nationally as a team eager to make a big splash in the offseason. The Rangers are certainly eager to upgrade their team but are also being cautious to this point on how to allocate the resources available to them. There has been no rush to judgment just yet.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.