Rangers target pitching at GM Meetings

Daniels exploring all options for improving starting rotation

Rangers target pitching at GM Meetings

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Rangers general manager Jon Daniels is talking about pitching. That has been the club's mission from the beginning of the offseason and continues at the annual General Managers Meetings.

"Had a first round of conversations back home with both clubs and agents, and have a chance to get together in person, advance the ball on a couple things and see where it goes," Daniels said on Monday. "Hard to say as far as timing when things get done. Probably have a better sense of things after this week."

The Rangers know that free-agent pitcher Jake Arrieta is from the Dallas suburb of Plano and pitched at TCU. They have interest in him if he wants to return to North Texas. They have definite interest in free-agent right-handers Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn.

Hot Stove Tracker

The reality is the Rangers are talking to every representative of a free-agent pitcher and will be talking to any club willing to trade pitching. The Rangers are examining all possibilities and will exhaust all options as the offseason progresses.

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The Rangers need at least two and possibly three starters behind Cole Hamels and Martin Perez. They also have A.J. Griffin and Nick Martinez on the 40-man roster and are considering the possibility of trying reliever Matt Bush in the rotation. Both Bush (right shoulder) and Martinez (sports hernia) have had surgeries this offseason.

"Just on the pitching side, we're looking for a few guys, a few contributors, so we're not necessarily in a spot where we're looking for just the one finishing piece, so we're going to be open minded and look at all areas," Daniels said. "Whether that's big league free agency, Minor League free agency, trades, winter ball, you name it. We're open minded."

Where is Ohtani heading?

The Rangers are highly interested in Japanese pitcher Shohei Ohtani, who will be posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters this offseason. The Rangers have positioned themselves well to compete for Ohtani. They would be happy to pay the $20 million posting free and have $3,535,000 left in their international signing pool.

Ohtani wants to both pitch and hit in the United States. The Rangers appear to be flexible on that point, although it is clear they need him far more as a pitcher.

"I'm not going to address one player in particular that's under contract with another organization," Daniels said. "I think it would take a unique skill set, both physical and mental, to set up and allow for those skills to play out -- proper health and recovery and all those elements as well. But yeah, I would think it's possible. I think it's all about individual. And just how everything fits together, the rest of the roster and the roles of the various people involved."

The Rangers will hardly be the only team interested in Ohtani, and the complex terms of negotiating make it hard to predict a landing spot.

"Obviously the Fighters have acknowledged they're going to post him and Ohtani himself has suggested he'd like to try his trade in MLB. We'll see where it goes," Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto said. "But he's an incredibly talented player. We, like 29 other clubs, have scouted him extensively. I'm sure whether it's the Nippon Ham Fighters or somebody else, they're going to be incredibly fortunate to have him."

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.

Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com and contributed to this story.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.