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December 10, 2013

Updating the Rangers on Tuesday at the winter meetings: Nelson Cruz, Tanner Scheppers, pitching depth

Nothing new has developed so far Tuesday at the winter meetings on the Nelson Cruz front, though keep in mind that general manager Jon Daniels likes to meet late at night with agents. He did not say if he met with Cruz agent Adam Katz on Tuesday after confirming Monday that he had done so.

A question was posed of Daniels during his daily briefing with the media: Is there a sense in the organization that Nelson Cruz owes the Rangers a discount or something akin to it for serving a 50-game suspension during the heat of a playoff race for using performance-enhancing drugs?

"He had a decision to make," Daniels said. "I think one of the by-products of that decision was that it impacted the club. There’s no two ways around that. But we all understood the position he was in. I can’t speak for everybody, but I don’t view it that way. I don’t think he owes us.

"I think he likes being here. He may factor that in. It’s been an overall positive relationship over the years. I don’t think one side owes the other."

The Rangers remain firm on not wanting to give Cruz more than two guaranteed years, though some feel strongly that it is important to re-sign him. Cruz is seeking at least three years.

Shin-Soo Choo, another free agent, has been deemed to expensive. Not only is he seeking Jacoby Ellsbury money (seven years, $153 million), Choo would cost the Rangers their first-round pick as draft compensation to Cincinnati.

The biggest news to come out of the Daniels briefing, at least according to reaction on Twitter, is that Tanner Scheppers is preparing this off-season to be a starter in spring training. Whether he be given the chance to start is undecided, and even if he does get stretched out, Daniels said it's a long shot that Scheppers would make the rotation.

The Rangers have looked at added to their rotation on a short-term deal and have looked at Bartolo Colon, who went 18-6 for Oakland last season. Colon, though 40 years old and with the body of a sports writer, is a premium strike-thrower who some in the organization believe could be a 15-game winner for the Rangers.

“There’s a difference between trying to add depth and make a significant acquisition,” Daniels said from the Rangers’ war room at the Walt Disney Dolphin Resort. “You’re right: You can never have enough depth, but I think there are multiple ways to go about that.

“There are good players out there, but do we want to pay what it would cost in contract or young players?” Daniels said. “Does it make sense for us right now? There are a few select guys we’re still keeping tabs on. But we’re not involved with as many of the big names as we’re rumored to be.”

The Rangers are also keeping an eye on the market for the next tier of free agents in case Cruz doesn't re-sign and to pair with Mitch Moreland at designated hitter. They have targeted Michael Morse and Corey Hart. Another possible bat, though not a free agent: Miami outfielder Justin Ruggiano, a native Texan who was mentioned as a possible addition this year before the July trade deadline.

-- Jeff Wilson



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