Rangers president Nolan Ryan said last week that the club was going to make it a priority to work out a contract extension with general manager Jon Daniels before spring training. It sounds like they are going to make good on that promise.
Jon Heyman of SI.com reported last night that the Rangers are talking to Daniels about an extension, a report which was confirmed by Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas this morning.
Daniels, who has been the general manager since 2005, has one year remaining on his current contract. There were some tiny rumblings that Daniels was going to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract in order to interview for the Mets general manager job, but that possibility was rendered moot once the Rangers played deep into October. Considering that the Mets could be on the brink of a change in ownership themselves, Daniels is better off staying put, anyway.
The Rangers still have some other issues to resolve prior to spring training, namely the contract situation with the arbitration-eligible Josh Hamilton, but an extension for Daniels seems like a foregone conclusion at this point.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.
Comments from an anonymous team official suggest that Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will not be expected to join the rotation until May or June, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Both Ross and GM Jon Daniels favor a conservative approach for the 29-year-old as he works his way back up to full health after undergoing surgery last October to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.
The delay is reportedly being implemented so that Ross will be have the strength and stamina to contribute during the stretch run. Per Daniels:
We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.
Ross signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday after pitching through an injury-riddled season with the Padres in 2016. If all goes according to plan, he’ll slot into a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner and Martin Perez. The Rangers are expected to narrow down their fifth starter alternatives in spring training.