Mike Napoli? Signs with Red Sox.
Koji Uehara? Signs with Red Sox.
Zack Greinke? Signs with Dodgers.
Justin Upton? Stays with Arizona.
James Shields? Traded to Kansas City.
Josh Hamilton? Signs with the Angels.
Just a couple short weeks ago, the word from Nashville was that the Rangers were dominating the Winter Meetings. Two weeks later, virtually every player speculated about going to the Rangers has gone elsewhere.
And such is the cycle of baseball. Jon Daniels has been the Boy Wonder of General Managers for the past five years. Today he is an also-ran, victim of his own success.
This isn’t to say that JD isn’t a good GM. He’s one of the best and has put together one of the best farm systems in the majors. Baseball, though, is a big poker game with the GM’s when it comes to trades and free agents and it’s quite likely his brethren have learned JD’s “tells”.
In the case of Hamilton, there was too much honesty for his own good. It was well-publicized that Hamilton was willing to let the Rangers top the best offer he got. The longer the process went, the more it became apparent how far the Rangers were willing to go and that was four years, so Jerry DiPoto offered Josh five.
Arizona used Daniels to get what they wanted, which was a lot. By dangling Justin Upton out there, they found so many offers involving the Rangers and other players that could help them that they cut side deals to get all those players and now have no need to trade Upton.
Greinke? Well, the Dodgers are spending like drunken sailors. That was a long-shot anyway.
As for Shields, he was Daniels’ back-up plan should Greinke not work out, but the Rays got tired of waiting so they worked out the deal with Kansas City and probably got a better return than they would have from Texas.
Now speculation is already rife that the Angels will turn around and trade one of their now spare outfielders to the Mets in return for RA Dickey, another Rangers target.
At this point, there’s very little Texas can do to respond to these moves. There’s not much in the free agent market anymore that will strengthen the team. There’s a very good chance the 2013 Rangers will contain a lot of mentions of Profar, Olt, Martin and Perez, youngsters who will be given a good shot at playing time. This is also still a very good team. They may not win the West in 2013, but putting the youngsters in now could pay huge dividends in 2014.
Still, Rangers fans have every right to think the front office should have been more aggressive than they were this off-season. Much as Jon Daniels deserves a lot of credit for building the Rangers into World Series contenders, he has been outmaneuvered at every turn this off-season.
Losing Hamilton doesn’t make me distrust the Rangers’ front office. It does make me think Jon Daniels needs to adapt his style of playing poker.