GM meetings primer: Daniels looks for bats

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The first “meeting” of the MLB offseason begins today as the owners and general managers gather in Orlando to talk about issues surrounding the game and begin to toss around trade possibilities. They’ll be some agents there, too, checking out the early market for their clients.

Jon Daniels’ focus: helping his team score runs.

The Rangers scored 730 runs in 163 games in 2013, their lowest average per game (4.48) since they moved into Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. They scored 78 fewer runs than in 2012. Since Daniels became GM, the Rangers scored at least 784 runs before 2013. So it was quite a drop-off.

“More or less we’ve been telling clubs our short-term needs are more on the offensive side,” Daniels said late last week. “We have some depth in a couple of areas organizationally and at the big league level. We’re open to different ideas.”

Daniels knows his team needs more production at first base. They need another outfielder, assuming Nelson Cruz declines the club’s qualifying offer as expected Monday afternoon, and they’ve got to figure out what they’re doing at designated hitter.

One position the Rangers will get calls about: middle infield. They’ve got a surplus there at the major league level with Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar ready for every day play with just two spots available. The Rangers will consider any and all options to alleviate that logjam, including trading one of those players. What about having someone change positions? Logically, that would be Kinsler, something the club broached last offseason, but didn’t act on.

“It’s something we have not discussed with the players yet," Daniels said. "It’s premature. We don’t know 100 percent what options may present themselves. I think obviously if we get to that point, we’ll talk to the players first. We’re not there yet."

Of course, Daniels won’t rule out another pitcher. Despite having four of the club’s five starters -- Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Martin Perez -- under contract through at least 2016, Daniels knows pitching depth can be tested in a hurry (as evidenced by injuries last year).

“If the right pitcher is there, I’d never rule that out either,” Daniels said, knowing offense is the priority. “It’s about adding impact players where you can.”

Daniels has stressed that he’s not out to “win” the offseason. He won’t allow a disappointing season to force him to react too strongly and get into contract situations that risk handcuffing the club in the future. But it’s a big opportunity to improve the club with some resources in the minor leagues to dangle in potential trades.

Stay tuned. It should be another interesting offseason to watch.