Perhaps the last thing the Texas Rangers fan base wants to hear is any talk of patience. So far this offseason the Rangers have seen Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton head to Los Angeles (one in each league), James Shields go to Kansas City and a gaggle of free agents come off the board.
It wasn't for lack of trying., but the Rangers were only willing to go to a certain point on all of those guys. They battled for Greinke, but it seems clear he just preferred the Dodgers. Texas may not have been given a chance to counter-offer Hamilton, but they weren't going to give him five guaranteed years at $25 million anyway. Shields would have cost Jurickson Profar, if you match it up with what the Royals gave up. The offseason has not gone as the Rangers had hoped. But they have avoided the temptation to spend a ton of money on something they weren't comfortable doing, either.
Now, general manager Jon Daniels has to show a little patience while making it clear he's still searching for ways to improve the club and is ready to pounce when needed. Two of the bigger position-player options are still out there. Michael Bourn is a free agent and a Scott Boras client. We've discussed him on this blog recently (click here to read that). He's not a power hitter, but the 30-year-old Bourn has terrific speed (42 stolen bases last year) and scored 96 runs. He can play center field, a position that right now looks like a platoon between Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin. Daniels won't just sign Bourn to make a signing. But if the price drops as the season nears, he's worth a look.
Justin Upton is clearly a player that has interested the Rangers all offseason. And he's still out there. Sure, the Diamondbacks talk about taking all of their outfielders to spring training, but they've got too many. They've already tried to trade Upton once, nut he turned down a deal to the Seattle Mariners. If making that public was general manager Kevin Towers' way of letting everyone know the price for Upton, then it's too high. So the Rangers will sit. For now. But rest assured they'll keep tabs on this thing and as we get closer to spring training, perhaps a package involving Mike Olt and maybe a pitching prospect becomes something that entices the D-backs a lot more. It's also worth noting that how the club uses its big prospect pieces in a trade is a big deal. Olt, for example, is the type of player that must be used at just the right time for the right player. What if Giancarlo Stanton becomes available at the deadline, for instance? It's just something to consider. But Upton is certainly the caliber of player that you'd consider moving Olt at the top of a package to obtain.
Kyle Lohse is another free agent available (and one we've talked about) and price makes a difference here, too. Just like with Bourn and Upton, waiting things out on that front may not hurt, either. Yes, I know it's risky to take this approach after missing out on some offseason opportunities already. But with money to spend and a top farm system, the Rangers would be in a good position to bolster the club in a number of ways come July, if they choose. And this is still a team that has enough pieces to contend, though we've seen the Angels get even better this offseason.
No doubt bolstering the outfield and rotation would sure help. There are still ways to do that before spring training or the season starts. It requires patience, preparation and the ability to jump on a deal when the time is right. So far this offseason, the timing hasn't been what the Rangers wanted. But the offseason isn't over yet.