ARLINGTON -- The Rangers still have one significant piece of unfinished business and it concerns general manager Jon Daniels. The Rangers have not announced a contract extension for Daniels, who turned down an opportunity to leave the organization at the end of last season. Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg and club president Nolan Ryan have both said they would like to extend Daniels, who is signed through 2011. Daniels has made it clear that he wants to remain in Texas in charge of a baseball operations department that he has almost completely restructured since being promoted by owner Tom Hicks at the end of the 2005 season. Hiring Daniels as general manager was one of the most important moves Hicks made in allowing the Rangers to shed the numerous problems created by their free-spending ways in the first half of the past decade and move into an unwavering long-term rebuilding plan. That ultimately paid off when the Rangers reached the World Series in 2010 for the first time in club history.
After an ill-advised attempt to win immediately, the Rangers adopted a youth movement devised by Daniels that led to a complete overhaul of the farm system and the acquisition of many of the players who led the way to the American League pennant. The Rangers have become a model for other small-market, low-revenue clubs seeking to travel a similar path, and the 2007 trade that sent first baseman Mark Teixeira to the Braves for five young players -- shortstop Elvis Andrus, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and pitchers Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Beau Jones -- has become the standard by which such deals are measured. One of the Rangers' first moves this offseason was to address manager Ron Washington, who was hired by Daniels. Washington was unsigned past 2010 before receiving a two-year contract extension shortly after the Rangers were defeated by the Giants in the World Series. The Rangers were expected to address Daniels as well, but club officials said that has been delayed by a busy offseason agenda. Dealing with less time than usual because of their World Series appearance, the Rangers were bogged down for the first month of the offseason while waiting for free-agent pitcher Cliff Lee to decide where he would be pitching in 2011 and beyond. Lee, shortly after the Winter Meetings, decided to return to the Phillies, and the Rangers have been scrambling ever since. They have signed catchers Yorvit Torrealba and Matt Treanor and pitchers Brandon Webb and Arthur Rhodes. After some initial misgivings, the Rangers also signed third baseman Adrian Beltre to a six-year, $96 million contract that required a corollary diplomatic mission to convince Michael Young to move to a new role as potential designated hitter and utility infielder. The Rangers also made concerted efforts to acquire pitchers Zack Greinke from the Royals and Matt Garza from the Rays. But Greinke ended up with the Brewers and Garza, after extensive discussions between the Rangers and the Rays, was dealt to the Cubs. The Rangers have not yet shifted into cruise mode for the remainder of the winter. After being unable to sign Vladimir Guerrero, the Rangers are still looking for more offensive help. They are exploring the possibility of signing free-agent designated hitter Jim Thome or, more logically, a right-handed hitter who can play multiple positions and give the Rangers some lineup flexibility with left-handed hitting first baseman Mitch Moreland. From that standpoint, Marcus Thames remains a viable free-agent option as a player similar to departed outfielder Jeff Francoeur. The Rangers are also dealing with five remaining arbitration cases -- pitchers C.J. Wilson, Frank Francisco and Darren O'Day, and outfielders Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton. The Rangers have had internal discussions about long-term contracts for some of them, particularly Hamilton and Wilson. The Rangers will most likely try to hammer out one-year deals with their arbitration-eligible players so they can avoid an actual hearing, and then renew discussions on multiyear deals closer to Spring Training. Some things just get put off so that other matters can be addressed. Even the general manager has had to wait longer than anticipated.
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.