Rangers' focus is on Choo or Cruz
Seeking more offense, Texas looking to land one of two free-agent outfielders
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Rangers are discussing the possibility of signing either free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo or Nelson Cruz. They appear to be the team in best position to land Choo, but the Rangers are also discussing a third possibility on the second day of the Winter Meetings.
"We may not make any more significant moves," general manager Jon Daniels said.
That is looming as a distinct possibility. The Rangers have met with agent Scott Boras about Choo, but there is no sign the two sides are close to a deal. Boras is looking for something similar to the seven-year, $153 million contract he negotiated for Jacoby Ellsbury with the Yankees.
Winter Meetings Action
|Day 4: Dec. 12|
|SS Clint Barmes||1-year deal with PIT||Yes|
|OF Brian Bogusevic||Traded to MIA||Yes|
|2B Robinson Cano||10-year deal with SEA finalized||Yes|
|RHP Joba Chamberlain||1-year deal with DET||Yes|
|OF Nate McLouth||2-year deal with WAS finalized||Yes|
|OF Michael Morse||1-year deal with SF||No|
|1B Mike Napoli||2-year deal with BOS finalized||Yes|
|OF Justin Ruggiano||Traded to CHC||Yes|
The Rangers, according to club sources, are not willing to go that high with Choo and could likely target Cruz instead. Cruz is looking for a lesser deal, most likely 3-4 years in length. But the Rangers have shown a willingness for only a two-year deal with Cruz, and that could hang up those talks.
"We're weighing a variety of different things," Daniels said.
The Rangers are interested in Choo as a leadoff hitter after he scored 107 runs and had a .423 on-base percentage for the Reds last season. Other teams may be dropping out. The D-backs were considered a possibility, but they addressed their need for a left fielder by acquiring Mark Trumbo from the Angels. The Tigers also seemed to take themselves out of the running by signing outfielder Rajai Davis.
Boras said there are more teams out there than just the Rangers.
"There is a lot of play on this guy," Boras said. "He is a good fit for a lot of teams."
The Rangers also are considered one of the likely teams to sign Choo, because they are perceived as having the financial resources to be big players in the free-agent market.
"That's not accurate," Daniels said. "We have a budget like anybody else. We want to improve the club, but we have limits. The way we operate, we have a set budget. We also have a committed ownership group that wants to win and deliver a winner to Texas. They're open to modifying the budget, but it's got to be unique circumstances. We have an operating budget, and we've used quite a bit of it.
"It's all about the right fit. You have to factor in acquisition costs, fit on the club, the Draft picks, budget. It's all a part of it."
That the Rangers are talking to Boras suggests they would prefer Choo over Cruz because of the on-base ability. Cruz still wants to play for Texas, but it could depend on the Rangers going beyond a two-year deal.
"It's the same as it always is. This is the nature of free agency," Daniels said. "But it's more about our club and where we are as an organization. There are a lot of good players out there, but for what it costs ... does it make sense? I don't know. There are a few select guys we'd like to keep tabs on, but we're not involved in as many big names as we are rumored to be."
The Rangers have an ongoing dialogue with Boras and agent Adam Katz, who represents Cruz, and those discussions likely will continue until both players are signed. But the Rangers also are considering other hitters who would "complement" what they already have.
Two names that have come up are Michael Morse and Corey Hart, a pair of right-handed hitters who can play first base and the outfield. Both have been productive Major League hitters but had their issues last season.
Hart hit .270 with 31 home runs and 95 RBIs in 149 games for the Brewers in 2012 but missed all of last season because of a pair of knee surgeries. Morse hit .303 with 31 home runs and 95 RBIs for the Nationals in 2011 but has slipped the past two years with injuries. He split time with the Mariners and the Orioles last season and hit .215 with 13 home runs and 27 RBIs in 312 at-bats.
Daniels said the Rangers are looking into adding an experienced hitter to give them an alternative to Michael Choice. The Rangers acquired Choice from the Athletics last week, and he is their leading candidate right now to play left field. But they are still looking at adding depth to the position.
"There's a good chance, but it really depends on what else we do," Daniels said.
What the Rangers want to do is sign Choo. They just think he is asking for too much money.
"You know," Boras said with a smile during a brief stop in the hotel lobby on Tuesday afternoon. "I've heard that a lot before."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.