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November 11, 2013

Live from the GM meetings: Rangers on Day 1

The biggest news involving the Rangers on Monday, the first day of the general manager meetings, is that Nelson Cruz rejected their one-year qualifying offer for $14.1 million and will test the market as one of the few noted power hitters.

The Rangers were expecting that outcome all along, and expect that he will have many suitors. They will remain in the mix, but GM Jon Daniels said that the Rangers are willing to go only so far.

"The lines are open," Daniels said Monday night. If there's something there, great."

Just before Daniels met with a small local media contingent, he bumped into the agent for free agent and former Rangers slugger Mike Napoli. The two will talk this week to discuss a possible reunion, but Rangers fans would be wise to not get their hopes up.

Flash back to last year, when Napoli was a free agent for the first time in his career. He and the Rangers never got close, in part because the Rangers were fully aware of the deteriorating condition in his hips. The Rangers wanted him back on a one-year deal before he signed with Boston for three years and $39 million.

That deal, though, fell through when Napoli failed his physical. He eventually negotiated a one-year contract for $5 million, but the Rangers were poised to swoop in had he and the Red Sox parted ways. They didn't, and Napoli is now a world-champion first baseman.

It would seem unlikely that Napoli, coming off the world title, would want anything less than a multiyear contract. Considering the health and the strikeouts, and his 2012 struggles at Rangers Ballpark, the Rangers might balk.

But they'll take about it with Greiper. The Rangers could use a designated hitter and have already considered upgrading at first base. Napoli is done as a catcher because of the hips. But he swings a power bat, though with a ton of strikeouts, and the Rangers need power. Especially if Cruz isn't back.

The Rangers also need starting pitching depth. They believe they are set with a rotation of Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Martin Perez and Alexi Ogando, but there are health concerns with Harrison and Ogando and maybe even Darvish after he ended the season with a nerve issue in his back.

So, the Rangers are going to let Robbie Ross come to spring training as a starter. He did that last year, too, and nothing changed during the 2013 season to lessen his desire to be a starter. He was a starter in the minors before making the bullpen as a surprise piece in 2012.

Ross has had two straight strong outings in the Dominican Winter League after a hiccup in his debut for Toros del Estes, and will make two more starts before leaving for a prior commitment.

"Robbie wanted to start last spring, and he expressed a desire again to start," Daniels said. "We wanted to see the level of commitment, and he's showing that to us now."

The promotions for A.J. Preller (to assistant general manager) and Mike Daly (to senior director of minor league operations) are just the beginning of what has become an annual reshuffling of the deck behind the scenes. Daniels said a release is coming some time this week, but among the changes is Scott Coolbaugh becoming the minor-league hitting coordinator. That post was shared last year. Also, Daly's vacancy as international scouting director will be filled. Daniels, though, didn't get into specifics.





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