SAN DIEGO -- A day after saying he didn't care what people thought about whether he wasn't willing to give up his top prospects in a trade, Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said a free-agent signing is coming.
Well not today or tomorrow.
Daniels said the Rangers are close to finalizing a deal for a free-agent right-handed reliever. There are several former Rangers on the market, including Mike Adams, but Daniels said the club isn't adding a former player.
And Daniels said the team won't get anything finalized until next week, several days after the winter meetings conclude.
The reliever will most likely be a one-inning setup man to closer Neftali Feliz. Daniels ruled out the potential new reliever would take over for Feliz in case he was hurt. Daniels said Tanner Scheppers would become the closer if Feliz went down.
As it stands, the Rangers' bullpen will have healthy competition for maybe five to six spots. Manager Jeff Banister said having two left-handers in the pen is nice and adding a third is a luxury. It's too early, however, to determine who will pitch out of the pen, but spring training will determine plenty.
"I feel like on the right side of the bullpen we have a number of options, and it's going to create some good competition at camp," Daniels said. "It's a balance and we'd like to pitch some of these guys. And I think they're better than some of these guys we can get for a little bit more money."
Finding a left fielder not a priority: Daniels has said pitching is the No. 1 priority of the offseason, and the Rangers still haven't closed a deal on any one despite talking to numerous teams. It seems finding a corner outfielder in free agency or by trade isn't a major concern, either. Daniels, again, said Ryan Rua, Mitch Moreland, Jake Smolinski and Michael Choice will compete for the job. If the Rangers make a move for a corner outfielder, it would have to come in the order of a trade and that would have to overwhelm the team. Alex Rios, who played for the Rangers last season, is not in the plans to return.
"Just the allocation of resources," Daniels said when asked about his reasoning for not chasing an outfielder. "I like our group. That's the beauty of having young players, that you believe in them. It's hard to write down on paper what these guys are going to do. Believe in the group. I believe in the environment that's going to be created, the instruction and these guys are going to get better. You look around the game and they aren't too many lineups, one through nine, that put a lot of fear into you. That's a little bit of the nature of the game right now."
Base hits: Daniels said if and when left-handed pitcher Barry Zito works out for big league clubs, the Rangers will attend. Zito hasn't pitched since 2013. Rangers prospect Ronald Guzman has been released by Dominican Republic authorities after he was involved in a fatal car accident. Guzman wasn't charged by authorities. Daniels said he plans to speak with all of the players from the Dominican Republic regarding the dangers of driving there. Banister said he wouldn't commit to moving Shin-Soo Choo from the leadoff spot, just yet. Banister said it's unfair to put people in certain positions of the lineup in December when he hasn't seen anybody play yet.
My observations: After the Jon Lester deal was reported Tuesday night, the hotel bars at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, where the winter meetings were being held, buzzed with noise, and Cubs manager Joe Maddon was doing several interviews with fans taking pictures. As is custom, Major League Baseball had its managers sit and have lunch with the reporters that cover teams during the winter meetings.