<--video-->SAN DIEGO -- The only news the Texas Rangers made from the annual winter meetings on Monday was general manager Jon Daniels' saying the club is out of the mix for a power-hitting, expensive corner outfielder.
The team entered into contract talks with free-agent outfielder Torii Hunter, but he signed a one-year, $10.5 million deal with Minnesota last week.
"We’re really looking more for a fourth, an extra guy, defensive-minded," Daniels said from his hotel suite at the winter meetings. "We got interest in Torii, and it was unique to him. There could be a guy that fits in the mix to give [manager Jeff Banister] some flexibility and lets him move some guys around. But we're not heavily involved in the outfield market."
Where does that leave the Rangers?
Ryan Rua, Michael Choice, Mitch Moreland and Jake Smolinski are the candidates to take the starting job. Daniels said he doesn't see a platoon situation between Rua and Choice and expects Choice, an Arlington, Texas, native, to bounce back from his .182/.250/.320 season.
Moreland is coming off ankle surgery and has played mainly first base/DH, but the Rangers believe he can move to left.
"We want to get to spring training and make sure everybody is healthy and see a level of competition, and that’s how we’re looking at it," Daniels said. "We’re comfortable with that group.”
In terms of finding a fourth outfielder, Tampa Bay and Boston have a surplus. The best of that bunch is Boston's Jackie Bradley Jr., who hit just .198/.265/.266 in 127 games the past season but had a fielding percentage of .997 and led the big leagues in assists (13) and double plays (eight) from centerfield.
Pitching, pitching, pitching: The Rangers are still committed to finding quality starting pitching this offseason and have held discussions with the San Diego Padres and New York Mets about a variety of pitchers, including Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner of the Padres and Dillon Gee from the Mets. Cashner and Gee have ties to Texas, but whether they would be fits within the pitching staff is a bigger deal than the lure of returning back home.
The Padres have asked about Rangers second baseman Jurickson Profar, but the asking price to get him seems too high. Profar also is coming off a shoulder injury that cost him the 2014 season.
There's an expectation that when the high-end free-agent pitchers such as Jon Lester sign, things could start moving for the Rangers and other clubs.
"I don’t know if it will affect it directly, but I do think it will free the market up a little bit," Daniels said. "There's generally an order to things a lot of times but not always. A lot of the bigger deals get done first, and people reassess their needs."
Some observations: The Golden Era Committee failed to elect anyone into the Hall of Fame on Monday. Dick Allen and Tony Oliva were the closest to reaching the Hall and finished tied with 10 votes. "The careers were almost equal," said voter and Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins, who had two stints with the Rangers as a pitcher. ... John Boggs, the agent for future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki, said his client wants to play baseball in 2015. Boggs said Ichiro is open to playing for a contender. "It's big for him," Boggs said. "You can't say no to that. He has to make the judgment calls. When a team wants you, then they have to sell it to you." … Left-handed reliever Neal Cotts, who pitched for the Rangers last season, is still on the market. The Rangers haven't ruled him out for a return, but he's getting interest from other teams. … I think Lester signs with San Francisco. Just an opinion.