Jon Daniels Rumors

West Notes: Ethier, Andrus, Rangers, Padres

The gap between the haves and have-nots in baseball have lessened because of revenue sharing and financial incentives not to overspend in the draft and free agency, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The Dodgers, however, are utilizing a different model to maximize their financial advantage: buying front office talent. Drellich notes the $7MM average annual value Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman earns would make him the Astros’ third-highest paid player. “Big-market, small-market potential difference,” Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said. “There does seem to be increased competition for talented people that have had success in our industry. That’s not the first time we’ve seen it. It’s not the last time we’re going to see it. As far as front offices with different layers that don’t exist in our organization, it’s a way to get more people in the organization.” Luhnow also pointed out the distinction between a city’s population and its market size and how that affects a franchise’s financial resources. Houston is “the fourth-largest city in the country, but we’re not the fourth-largest market in the country, not even close,” Luhnow remarked. “We’re not ever going to be a small market necessarily, but our revenues are not proportionate with our city size relative to other big metropolitan areas.

In other news involving MLB’s West divisions:

  • Some rival evaluators believe Andre Ethier is by far the most likely Dodgers outfielder to be traded, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (on Twitter). However, Los Angeles will weigh their options. Carl Crawford and, perhaps to a lesser extent, Matt Kemp, also appear to be trade candidates.
  • Rangers GM Jon Daniels told Jim Bowden of Sirius XM (on Twitter) he will “listen” on Elvis Andrus because of the club’s infield depth. Texas also has middle infielders like Luis Sardinas, Jurickson Profar, and Rougned Odor in the fold.
  • Daniels went on to say the Rangers‘ needs are at starting pitcher, catcher, left field, or DH and these vacancies are more likely to be solved via trade than free agency (link). Last month, our own Brad Johnson previewed the Rangers’ offseason.
  • The Padres must consider trading one of their catchers (Yasmani Grandal, Rene Rivera, or propsect Austin Hedges) in order to improve their offense, opines Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Rangers Extend Jon Daniels, Thad Levine

FRIDAY: The Rangers have officially announced both extensions. While specifics weren’t divulged, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets that each received a three-year deal. Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest adds that the deals kick in at the end of their pre-existing contracts, meaning they’re now signed through 2018. In the press release, co-chairmen Ray Davis and Bob Simpson issued the following statement:

“Under Jon’s and Thad’s leadership, the Rangers have created a strong overall organization that has combined major league success with a productive scouting and player development operation over a number of years. Jon and Thad are skilled executives who are well respected around the game and completely committed to once again delivering a winning team for our fans.”

THURSDAY: The Rangers have extended general manager Jon Daniels and assistant GM Thad Levine, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The exact terms of the extensions are unknown to this point, but Daniels’ contract was slated to expire at the end of the 2015 season.

Jon Daniels and Thad Levine

Daniels succeeded John Hart (now the Braves’ president of baseball operations) as GM of the team following the 2005 season at the incredibly young age of 28. He’s been in his role for nearly a decade now, and in that time, the Rangers have made their first two World Series appearances. The team struggled in 2014, finishing with just 67 wins, although a nearly unthinkable list of injuries was largely to blame for that disappointing performance.

The 41-year-old Levine was also appointed to his current post in October 2005 and has been long rumored as a GM candidate himself. He withdrew his name from consideration from the D’Backs GM search prior to the team’s hiring of Dave Stewart. When former Rangers AGM A.J. Preller became GM of the Padres, Levine took on the oversight of the club’s international scouting operations, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News wrote back in September.

As can be seen in MLBTR’s Transactions Tracker, Daniels and Levine were behind what is considered one of the best trades in Rangers history — the Mark Teixeira trade to the Braves that netted Texas Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and minor leaguer Beau Jones. However, some Rangers fans are likely more focused on last offseason’s Prince Fielder/Ian Kinsler swap, which to this point has certainly not panned out for Texas.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


West Notes: Daniels, Lewis, Astros, Padres

The Rangers would like to finish an extension with president of baseball operations and GM Jon Daniels by the start of spring training, ESPN Dallas’ Calvin Watkins writes. Daniels is entering the last year of a four-year deal. His contract had been on the back burner as the Rangers looked for a new manager, but with Jeff Banister now in the fold, the Rangers should have more time. “We’ve been consumed for the last month on this, so [Daniels’ extension] will fall in place,” says team co-chairman Ray Davis. Daniels’ teams have played in two World Series and had four 90-plus-win seasons since he was hired in 2005. Here are more notes from the West divisions.

  • The Rangers are interested in retaining pitcher Colby Lewis, and Daniels says he’s talked to Lewis’ agent, Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest tweets. The Rangers are the only team allowed to negotiate with Lewis until five days after the World Series. The impending free agent pitched 170 1/3 innings in 2014, and his 7.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 indicated he was somewhat better than his 5.18 ERA suggested.
  • The Astros have announced new manager A.J. Hinch’s 2015 coaching staff, as noted by Mark Berman of FOX 26 (on Twitter). Former Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens will take the same role with the Astros. Rich Dauer, previously the manager of the Double-A San Antonio Missions in the Padres organization, will be Houston’s first base coach. The team also officially announced that Gary Pettis will be their third base coach and Trey Hillman their bench coach.
  • The Padres announced a variety of changes in their player development area Friday, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Randy Smith, who had been vice president for player development, will become a senior advisor for baseball operations, and will focus on scouting. The team will not retain field coordinator Randy Johnson (not the former star pitcher), hitting coordinator Sean Berry or outfield and baserunning coordinator Glen Barker. The Padres could consider Rangers field coordinator Jayce Tingler for their farm director position, Lin notes.


Rangers GM Jon Daniels On Injuries To Fielder, Profar

Earlier today we learned that Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder was “seriously considering” season-ending surgery to fix a herniated disc in his neck.  Later, an afternoon conference call with Rangers GM Jon Daniels confirmed that the five-time All-Star will go ahead with that plan.  Naturally, the injury to Fielder raised speculation from many that the Rangers could consider free agent Kendrys Morales.  While Daniels didn’t refer to the former Mariners slugger directly, I asked him if he might consider making a notable out-of-house pickup to fill the void in the batting order.

Not today, not right now,” Daniels said.  “I think that our focus right now is on the group of guys [including the injured Jurickson Profar and Dan Robertson] that are going to come back…There’s a group of guys that are up here in the big leagues that have put together a few good games this week, and we want to see if we can build on that and then evaluate where we are and adjust if that time comes.

The Rangers received $30MM from the Tigers to help cover part of Fielder’s deal, but with an Opening Day payroll north of $136MM, one might wonder if the owners are feeling tapped out.  When I asked Daniels if he might be afforded some financial flexibility to make a significant out-of-house addition, he simply said that he’s not willing to divulge one way or another.

In addition to losing Fielder, the Rangers also got some bad news concerning Profar, who will be sidelined another 8 to 12 weeks thanks to the Grade 2 strain in his right arm.  That’s similar to the timeline we initially heard on Profar in late March, but the clock has been reset and this time around his rehab process will be “even more conservative.”  With the rash of injuries that the Rangers have had to deal with, Daniels had a hard time concealing his frustration.

My reaction to the news unfortunately wasn’t surprise just because from talking to [Prince] and seeing him, we knew that this was serious.  We were hoping the injection could keep him comfortable and get him through the season.  Sometimes you have that response.  His response was initially positive,” Daniels said.  “The upside is that I’ve been told that this particular surgery has a high success rate.  It doesn’t have the same level of risk that a lumbar [problem] of the lower back has in terms of how you use those two parts of the body and the weight you have to support.  I’m looking forward to seeing this guy healthy and what he can do, but that’s more of a 2015 and beyond thing.”

The other silver lining, if there is one, is that Profar is not ticketed for surgery at this time.  For Fielder, he’ll have to have a cervical fusion on his c5 and c6 vertebrae on Tuesday.  One might wonder if the problem could have been caught if the Rangers had Fielder undergo a full physical after acquiring him, but Daniels says that a cervical MRI wouldn’t have been conducted anyway since there was no prior issue there.

It remains to be seen whether the Rangers will make a splashy move to help bolster their weakened lineup, but there’s no doubt that they’ll miss Fielder in 2014.


Rangers Notes: Daniels, Maddux, Murphy, Young

Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux is "more interested" in the Cubs manager's job than he was two years ago, a source tells ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers.  The Cubs were interested in Maddux in 2011 but he pulled himself out of the process due to family considerations, though that "isn't as big of a concern" this time around.  The Cubs have yet to contact Maddux during their current search for a new bench boss.  Here's the latest from Arlington…

  • GM Jon Daniels discussed his relationship with Nolan Ryan, coaching changes, Jurickson Profar's development and other Rangers topics during a recent appearance on "The Ben and Skin Show" on 105.3 The Fan radio (partial transcript provided by the Dallas Morning News).  In regards to how the team will address Profar and the crowded middle infield picture, Daniels said, “If [a trade] helps us get better and win, then yeah, and I think we’d consider trading somebody. If it doesn’t, we’re not going to force it. There are a lot worse problems than having too many good players for a position.”
  • Also from that interview, Daniels discussed his club's offseason needs.  "Catching is an area that we need to address, as is our offense and run production in general, and there's a couple different spots we can look to add some offense. I think you're always in the market for pitching," Daniels said.
  • David Murphy will likely be playing elsewhere in 2014, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan writes as part of a reader mailbag.  The 31-year-old hit a career-worst .220/.282/.374 in 476 PA, drastically lowing his stock on the free agent market this winter.  Sullivan speculates that Murphy could be a good fit on the Astros or Giants.
  • Also from Sullivan's mailbag, he notes that Michael Young could retire at the end of this season.  Young turns 37 later this month and his contract will be up as soon as the Dodgers' playoff run ends.
  • Sullivan guesses that the Rangers would have to give up Profar, a top pitching prospect like Luke Jackson, and also a big hitting prospect from the lower minors to acquire David Price from the Rays. 
  • If the Rangers signed Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu, Sullivan doesn't think it would necessarily mean the end of Mitch Moreland's time with the club since the Rangers need more bats.
  • Earlier today on MLBTR, Zach Links included an item about the Rangers as part of a "Texas Notes" post.

Rangers Notes: Washington, Payroll, Morales

Rangers GM Jon Daniels spoke to the media today and already shared some information about his team's plans for Nelson Cruz and Joe Nathan this offseason.  Here's some more from Daniels' press conference and other Ranger-related news items…

  • Daniels said he will speak to manager Ron Washington about a contract extension this winter (via Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram).  The GM hasn't yet spoken to upper management about extending Washington's deal but Daniels doesn't want Washington to be a lame duck in the final year of his current contract.  It could mirror the situation in January 2012 when Washington was heading into his final year with Texas and signed his current two-year extension.
  • The Rangers' 2014 payroll will be "a little below" its $125.3MM figure from last season, Daniels said (via Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News).  The club has around $85MM committed to nine players next season, plus five arbitration-eligible players.  Since the club will have at least $31MM worth of free agents coming off the books, Grant notes, the Rangers will still have room to spend.
  • The Rangers "certainly have interest" in free agent Kendrys Morales, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan reports.  Since the Mariners plan to extend a qualifying offer to Morales, signing Morales would cost the Rangers their first-round draft pick as compensation.
  • Also in Sullivan's piece, he breaks down the Rangers' offseason needs and notes that Jurickson Profar's positional future could play a role in Texas' moves.  For instance, the Rangers could experiment with Profar at third base, which would allow Adrian Beltre to save his legs by seeing regular DH at-bats.
  • The firing of bench coach Jackie Moore has generated some rumors of Daniels wanting more influence in on-field decisions, but ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett believes that Daniels is simply trying to find the right coaching mix rather than engaging in a power struggle with Washington or Nolan Ryan.

Rangers Links: Daniels, Garza, Cruz, Washington

As the Rangers enter tonight's action 1.5 games behind the Indians for the last AL wild card spot, here's the latest from Arlington…

  • Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan reported today that Rangers GM Jon Daniels was pressured by ownership to acquire Matt Garza in July, but the report is "not accurate," Daniels told ESPN Dallas' Todd Wills. "Ownership has been as supportive as they possibly can be. They want to win, but they've never forced our hand on any move. I'm really fortunate," Daniels said.  "I'm not saying that because they pay my paychecks. It's the truth. They haven't forced us to do anything or pressured or anything like that. They've been as supportive as any ownership team or ownership group in the sport."
  • Daniels and the Rangers knew for months that Nelson Cruz could face a PED suspension but didn't adequately prepare for losing him from their roster, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes.  While Texas did trade for Alex Rios, Rosenthal argues that the club needed hitting beyond just what Cruz (or a replacement) brought to the lineup.
  • With the Rangers in danger of a second consecutive September collapse and a tough World Series loss in 2011, ESPN's David Schoenfield argues that Ron Washington shouldn't be brought back as the team's manager.  Daniels said last week that Washington would return in 2014 and those within the organization expect the same.

West Notes: Kershaw, Rockies, Rangers, Astros

Credit Dodgers' scouting director Logan White for ensuring that Clayton Kershaw's big league successes have come in a Dodger uniform, says Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. The club had targeted Kershaw and Evan Longoria in the 2006 draft, but were worried that neither would last until the team's seventh overall pick. Several pieces had to fall into place: Luke Hochevar failed to sign in 2005, leading to his being taken first overall the next year. Meanwhile, with many scouts on hand for the last pre-draft starts of Kershaw and Brad Lincoln, the former struggled while the latter dominated. Lincoln went fourth overall to the Pirates. According to White, with Longoria already off the board to the Rays, the Dodgers "were hoping and praying Clayton would get to us." That's just what happened: consensus top arm Andrew Miller fell, perhaps owing to signabilty concerns, and was nabbed by the Tigers at number six, leaving Kershaw for L.A. The decision to take Kershaw caused some initial consternation when Tim Lincecum, taken with the tenth pick by the rival Giants, began his career with a bang. Now, of course, the Dodgers (and their fans) could not be more pleased with their selection. Here are a few more notes from the leagues' western divisions:

  • With the Rockies off to an up-and-down start, the Denver Post's Woody Paige has some harsh words for the team's ownership and management. He says that, with a top-12 attendance but a bottom-7 payroll, the club appears "content to produce a .500 team." Among the decisions Paige disagrees with are the team's apparent intention to rely on veteran pitchers like Roy Oswalt and Jon Garland while former top prospect Drew Pomeranz toils in Triple-A and Tyler Chatwood bounces between the minors and the big club. He also faults the club for going with the now-departed Chris Nelson and Reid Brignac instead of bringing up Nolan Arenado and DJ LeMahieu to start the season. He warns that the Rockies could be in danger of losing the affections of stars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Unhappy superstars can always cause problems by demanding a trade, of course, but it is worth noting that Colorado has no immediate need to sell its shortstop and left fielder on staying in town. Tulowitzki is inked through at least 2020 (with a 2021 club option), while Gonzalez is under contract through 2017.
  • Despite four starters on the disabled list, the Rangers lead the American League in ERA (3.38). Richard Justice of MLB.com writes that the success of the pitching staff is attributable to GM Jon Daniels's efforts to create a deep, talented organization. Likewise, Justice praises Daniels's confidence to enter the season without prior stalwarts Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Mike Adams, and Koji Uehara, and to bring in veterans Lance Berkman and A.J. Pierzynski on one-year deals. The 37-year-old Berkman, in particular, has hit .299/.422/.465 in 154 plate appearances as the club's primary DH.
  • Astros GM Jeff Luhnow says it is still too early for the club to narrow down its likely pick with the first choice in the upcoming amateur draft, tweets Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. The club will likely have more clarity when it conducts staff meetings in early June, Smith further tweets.
  • As the Astros gear up for an important draft, the club is holding a series of four regional player workouts, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. According to scouting director Mike Elias, the workouts will allow the club to "get up close and personal with the process and see some guys further down the list." He further notes that the process was utilized with success by the Cardinals: "It really helps those players get drafted and helps us make better decisions in the draft."
  • Meanwhile, Houston is beginning to see returns from its efforts to develop a pipeline of talent from the Dominican Republic. According to another tweet from Smith, Luhnow is excited about the first Dominican prospect that the club's efforts produced. Jose Cisnero, a right-hander that was originally signed in 2007, checked in at fifteenth on Baseball America's ranking of the club's prospects and has been pitching from the club's bullpen this year. 

AL West Notes: Angels, Ryan, Olt, Garland, Luetge

The Angels are on the lookout for a backup catcher, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com writes, confirming an earlier report by Danny Knobler of CBS (on Twitter). Hank Conger is currently slated to back up Chris Iannetta, Gonzalez notes, but Conger has struggled with his throwing this spring. Luke Carlin and John Hester are also technically candidates for the backup job, but both are minor-league veterans with limited big-league experience. The Pirates, Phillies and Rays are also reportedly in the market for catching. Here are more notes from around the AL West.

  • The Rangers' Jon Daniels says he doesn't know of Nolan Ryan's plans, but that he "can't eliminate" the possibility that Ryan might leave the organization after its recent front office shakeup clouded his future with the team. Daniels' comments came in an interview with Norm Hitzges on KTCK-AM 1310 The Ticket, transcribed by the Dallas Morning News. Daniels says that the Rangers' baseball operations "have a really good thing going," and that he doesn't want Ryan to leave. Speculation about Ryan's role as CEO of the Rangers began when Daniels was promoted to president of baseball operations/GM and Rick George was promoted to president of business operations.
  • Scouts have been watching Rangers prospect Mike Olt, who doesn't currently have a position with the Rangers, but that doesn't mean Texas is likely to move him, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan writes. Olt has not hit well this spring, but Sullivan notes that manager Ron Washington has been impressed with Olt's defense in right field. Olt hit .288/.398/.579 for Double-A Frisco in 2012 and had a cameo in the big leagues, but has not yet played at the Triple-A level.
  • The Mariners will need to decide what to do with pitcher Jon Garland, who appears to have an out clause in his contract that he can exercise next week, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes. Garland missed much of 2011 and all of 2012 with shoulder trouble.
  • Mariners hurler Lucas Luetge is in a different position than he was in 2012 after spending the year in the majors as a Rule 5 draft pick, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. Unlike last year, when Luetge's Rule 5 status meant he had to stay on the Mariners' 25-man roster the entire season, the Mariners have the option of sending Luetge to the minors. Luetge kept his head above water in 2012 despite having never before pitched above Double-A, posting a 3.98 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 5.3 BB/9 in 40.2 big-league innings.

AL West Notes: Trout, Rangers, Felix

One American League executive told Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com that he'd be talking to Mike Trout about a "crazy-long deal" if he were running the Angels. Castrovince considers some possible comparables for extension talks, concluding that it probably makes sense for the Angels to wait before extending Trout. His leverage is high right now, even though he's arguably the best bargain in MLB.

Here are some more notes from the AL West…

  • The Rangers announced that Jon Daniels has been promoted to president of baseball operations/general manager. Daniels, who became the club's GM in 2005, will still report to CEO Nolan Ryan.
  • Daniels told Scott Miller of CBSSports.com that he's intent on being more than "the team that used to be good.” The Rangers lost Mike Napoli, Josh Hamilton and Ryan Dempster to free agency, but Daniels isn't worried about the transition. “You've got to keep moving forward and not be afraid of change,” Daniels said. The GM explained the importance of depth and noted that being the best team on paper doesn’t guarantee success.
  • The Rangers are among the teams still interested in free agent infielder Ryan Theriot, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). However, Theriot continues looking for more playing time.
  • Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez recently established a new record for starting pitchers, signing a seven-year, $175MM contract. Hernandez told Heyman that he expects Clayton Kershaw will be the one to break the record because "he's a little younger" than other top pitchers. Hernandez suggested that Justin Verlander "might get the money, but less years.'' The Mariners ace said he helped other pitchers a bit, adding that he won't mind when another pitcher breaks his record.