The Texas Rangers and general manager Jon Daniels did what they thought was the best for their organization going forward. They offered outfielder Nelson Cruz a qualifying offer, something every team does with a player who’s about to hit free agency, and they wait for that player to either accept it or move on.
For Nelson Cruz, he and his agent believed they could find a multi-year deal somewhere else so they declined the offer from the Rangers and hit the open market. The only thing the two misjudged were the multi-year offers because they never came, forcing Cruz to sign a one year deal with the Baltimore Orioles (who else but…) and hopefully gain his stock back so he could get that multi-year offer in free agency the following year.
On the other side of the coin is shortstop Elvis Andrus.
Three years ago, the Rangers had the opportunity to trade Andrus because his value was at an all-time high after a big season from the young infielder. Daniels could have put together a package centered around Andrus and brought in a few players, pitching included, that the team needed going forward. Instead, the general manager decided that even though they had young phenom infielder Jurickson Profar waiting in the wings, the heir apparent if you will, they would lock up Andrus for an additional eight years on top of the two years he had remaining on his original deal at the time.
Three years later, with Nelson Cruz hitting his fifth home run in as many days in his new home with AL West rival Seattle Mariners, signing a four-year deal with them this past off-season, and Andrus looking more like a player who doesn’t seem to be taking the game all that serious, Daniels may begin to come under fire from not only the fans but the media as well.
When Nolan Ryan departed Texas, there was a clear line that was drawn in the sand between “Team Nolan” and “Team [Jon Daniels].” On one side were those who believed Nolan was the reason for the team’s success and where they had been for two straight seasons. On the other were those who believed Daniels was the one pulling the strings and making the brilliant moves and not the popular long time big leaguer.
With Ryan now in Houston, and Daniels getting to pull all the strings he wants, the Rangers are headed in the wrong direction making some wonder if the front office and the ownership had given the keys to organization to the wrong guy. There are some even talking about A.J. Preller, the assistant general manager under Daniels with the Rangers, and the success he’s had putting together a big time club as the new general manager of the San Diego Padres. People have even joked about how the Rangers, “let the wrong guy go.”
Through the first 10 games of the 2015 season, the Rangers are 4-6 and could be headed for another disappointing season despite names like Prince Fielder, who’s yet to hit a home run this season, Shin-Soo Choo, and Adrian Beltre in the same lineup.
I had questioned a certain ESPN writer a few weeks ago about the team giving up and waiving the white flag on the season before it even began. I thought that was foolish and even though I still believe it was written a little too early, I have to wonder myself if the Rangers have to start asking themselves about the dreaded ‘R’ word when the trade deadline comes around or if they are just a pitcher or two away from being contenders in the AL West division.
Hindsight is 20/20 and it’s easy for me to look back and question the Rangers allowing Nelson Cruz to walk away but be okay with extending someone like Elvis Andrus. It’s easy to question that deal now with the success, and lack thereof, both players are having right now.
The fact that I keep coming back to is the team’s continued decline in success and the amount of money they are locked into with just a few players on the roster.
If this continues, is there any chance at all of the team re-signing Yu Darvish or will he want to go elsewhere when free agency comes calling? If I was him, and I’ve seen what’s been going on with this team, and knowing there’s no championship run in them any time soon, I might want to look for other opportunities. Darvish may not want to be part of a rebuild and who could blame him?
We’re only 10 games in with 152 to go so we’re not even the first mile into the marathon that is the Major League Baseball season. However, if the first 10 games are any indication of how this season will go, maybe it is time to start thinking about putting a completely different team together and starting over again? Or maybe, just maybe, this Rangers’ club can turn things around and make me put it back in drive instead of being tempted to throw it in reverse.