Rangers considering options at first base/DH

Daniels also looking at corner outfield spot for 2017

Rangers considering options at first base/DH

ARLINGTON -- When Jon Daniels first became the Rangers' general manager 12 years ago, he said he was asked the same two questions almost every day.

"When are you going to get some pitching and how old are you," Daniels said. "We tried to do something about the pitching."

Daniels, who will turn 40 later this year, no longer gets asked about his age. The biggest question coming at him this offseason is what are the Rangers going to do about first base/designated hitter.

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The sub-plot in that is if the club will re-sign Mike Napoli, although Daniels is adamant about not discussing specific free agents.

"First base, DH and one of the corner outfields, we view that as connected," Daniels said. "We still feel we have some internal options. But we're not closing the door, if it's the right fit for the team and financially, we would have to consider that, too."

Manager Jeff Banister was also asked about the first-base spot during his morning question and answer session with fans at Rangers Fan Fest on Saturday.

"I know our GM," Banister said. "If there are options, I feel confident they are being investigated. We have some internal candidates I feel confident in that we can make better."

Whether the Rangers can reach an agreement with Napoli on length and value of a contract remains the biggest mystery surrounding the club this offseason.

Otherwise, the Rangers are starting to feel content toward the team they have put together this offseason, having re-signed Carlos Gomez to play center field and adding Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner to fill out the rotation.

Daniels on Ross, Cashner deals

"We are feeling good about our club," Daniels said. "We added a center fielder and we added the needed starters, guys we feel strongly about. We've held on to our young players ... we are excited about that. We're going to have some interesting competition at key spots .. not only in Spring Training, but the whole year. We have a lot of guys knocking on the door."

Daniels still could face more questions about pitching. The Rangers still have uncertainty about a staff that is headed by Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish and Martin Perez in the rotation and Sam Dyson as the closer.

The Rangers are hoping to get a full season out of Darvish now that he is two years removed from Tommy John surgery. But Cashner, Ross and Dillon Gee, who was signed to a Minor League contract, all had physical issues last season that need to be monitored, and A.J. Griffin was limited to 23 starts for the Rangers in 2016 because of shoulder inflammation.

Dyson is locked in as the closer, and so are Matt Bush and Jeremy Jeffress as setup relievers. The Rangers also need injury-free seasons from hard-throwing right-handers Tanner Scheppers and Keone Kela, and find someone to replace Jake Diekman as the primary left-handed setup reliever. Diekman is expected to miss at least the first half of the season while recovering from stomach surgery to relieve ulcerative colitis.

"Obviously with this pitching staff, there is some tremendous upside with the addition of Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner and even Martin Perez with what he can continue to do," Banister said. "I feel confident in the bullpen. It is a position of strength. Not having Jake Diekman will be a challenge, but it's up to us to find structure in the bullpen and get the outs we need.

"[The pitching staff] is something we have to pay attention to," Banister said.

The offense is an area of concern because of the departure of Carlos Beltran, Ian Desmond and Mitch Moreland as free agents. But Banister pointed out the Rangers are expecting to have catcher Jonathan Lucroy and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo for a full season. Lucroy was acquired at the non-waiver Trade Deadline last season and Choo was limited to 48 games because of multiple injuries.

"I feel confident about the players we have," Banister said. "I feel confident and comfortable with the players we are able to put in the lineup.

"Are there other options? I know we are exploring options if there is another bat we can put in the mix. We are always looking at that. But if we can keep all our guys in the lineup, it's a pretty good lineup."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.