Texas Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine was on The Front Office on MLB Network Radio, featuring ESPN.com contributor Jim Bowden and co-host Jim Duquette, on Sunday and shared some interesting thoughts, including the fact that the Rangers have had good conversations with Arizona GM Kevin Towers about Justin Upton, but nothing has materialized.
Here's some of what Levine had to say on the show:
TL: We're still looking at the free agent market to see if there are fits for us. But we really went into the offseason with a very short list of free agents that could impact us in a significantly positive way. Without signing those guys, we were pretty content in turning it over to our internal group. But we're still prospecting out there and seeing what the asks are for each free agent and for all the guys still available on the trade market and we're abreast of all of that and really ready to strike in the event a deal comes down to a place where we think it's fair to pursue.
Q: Any way the Rangers could trade for Justin Upton without (Elvis) Andrus or (Jurickson) Profar in the deal?
TL: If there is, it's not from a lack of effort. We've had great conversations with Kevin (Towers) this whole offseason. I think probably what's been made clear is that the reports early in the offseason that this player was not only available, but was going to be moved, were probably a little bit overstated. They really value Justin, as well they should. In the last three years, we've lost impact players each offseason. Two years ago we lost Cliff Lee and ended up signing Adrian Beltre. Last year we lost C.J. Wilson and ended up signing Yu Darvish. I think our objective this offseason was preparing if we did lose Josh Hamilton, who's another impact player we can go sign? Not necessarily replacing Josh exactly. Similarly, Beltre didn't replace Cliff Lee exactly. But we look at those types of players as guys that can replace our former impact players so we kind of net out the same number of impact players and move forward, even if it means redefining the team.
But with that in mind, the Rangers still won't be pressured into doing something. They'll check into any and all options to improve the club, but they aren't going to do anything they feel will hamper the organization's ability to extend the competitive window. So if contract talks get considerably out of their comfort range, they aren't going to go crazy with this second-tier group of free agents left.
As Levine made clear, though, the club is still texting and calling GMs and agents to explore everything it can prior to the 2013 season. There are still some interesting options out there, with Upton possibly available if the right deal is there and Michael Bourn and others.
In other words, stay tuned. And don't fully judge this offseason until it's over.