ARLINGTON, Texas -- Every year a few days prior to the Winter Meetings, the media makes its annual pilgrimage to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington to watch general manager Jon Daniels sit in front of a microphone and talk for about 20 minutes without saying much of anything.
It's an art, and Daniels is approaching Picasso's creativity level. For those of us in the business of disseminating information, it can be a little frustrating. But it's absolutely the smartest move.
Why would Daniels want to tip his pitches, giving others a chance to gain an advantage? That's not to say Daniels won't toss out a few pieces of information. He does talk in generalities about what the club needs. But he does it all with a purpose. And he's careful not to get backed into a corner or give away too many secrets.
Take Robinson Cano, for instance. He was asked directly about the club's interest in the biggest name on the free-agent market. Daniels admitted that he's talked to agents of "most" of the known names on the market. He then added: "Upgrading our infield is pretty low on our priority list."
It was Daniels' way of saying that Cano's price -- at least what he's looking for -- is too high for the Rangers. But why come out and say flatly that the club has no interest in Cano? What good does that do? Just like it makes no sense to praise Cano, either. Who knows what could happen? What if Cano doesn't get anywhere close to what he's looking for and the Rangers decide to jump in late and see what may or may not happen? It's doubtful that would happen, but not impossible. Again, Daniels is careful not to completely rule anything out.
The chances of Cano coming to Texas have always seemed a bit remote. Paying Prince Fielder and freeing up a spot for Jurickson Profar with the trade of Ian Kinsler (one that didn't get leaked until after it was completed prior to Thanksgiving) makes it even more unlikely. But that doesn't mean the club is out of the big-ticket items either.
Daniels praised newest outfielder Michael Choice, but did not pencil him into left field. Choice will have to earn that spot. And that's assuming the club doesn't sign another bat. They've been linked to Shin-Soo Choo, a hitter that makes a lot of sense because of his consistent ability to get on base and produce. But Daniels, as is his policy, doesn't discuss specific players or free agents directly with the media.
He said the club feels good about its rotation, but acknowledged they want to increase starting pitching depth. They have four locks for the rotation now, assuming health isn't an issue, with Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and Martin Perez. Alexi Ogando is the leader in the clubhouse for the fifth spot, but Robbie Ross has impressed scouts in winter ball and he could make a push. So could Colby Lewis if the veteran shows he's ready to pitch after hip surgery last season. The Rangers believe he'll be ready to go in spring training after a normal offseason program, though there are some unknowns about how he'll respond from the surgery. But just because the club is happy with the rotation doesn't mean that if David Price is available, the Rangers wouldn't jump in that sweepstakes. Like anything else, it would depend on what kind of prospect package it would take to do it.
Daniels wants to improve the bench, giving manager Ron Washington some more options. And they need another catcher. Even with catchers signing recently, Daniels said nobody has gone off the board that the team was pursuing, so they don't feel rushed to do anything. The GM added that if the club had to go with the team currently assembled, he'd be comfortable. But don't take that to mean Daniels and his staff won't be tossing options around a hotel suite in Orlando next week, either.
"There are things we could look to do, adding in a couple of different spots," Daniels said. "I think the moves we've made, we don't feel pressure that we have to make deals. The deals have to be right for us. Our job is to go out there and improve the club. To the degree we can do that, we will."
In other words: Just about everything is still on the table. But don't expect Daniels to share the details of the menu with anybody yet.