Texas Rangers’ plan to streamline rebuild could cost two veterans playing time

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General manager Jon Daniels didn’t pull any rabbits out of his hat or anything out of the blue Tuesday afternoon when looking mostly forward rather than back at the dismal season the Texas Rangers finished off Sunday.

The Rangers will still be rebuilding in 2021, with ownership’s blessing, and won’t be spending much money this off-season, at ownership’s direction. Daniels will still consider trading players for young talent, and the young talent on the roster must improve.

It’s possible the Rangers offer a contract extension to Joey Gallo, but unlikely they Rangers dump what’s left on the bad contract of Rougned Odor and the marginally better Elvis Andrus deal.

The top priority will be upgrading the offense, though much of that improvement must come from within.

Daniels said the dissection of the roster and the system hasn’t started yet, and only after it’s completed will the Rangers have a clearer idea of where they will focus on player acquisition and development.

But youth will be served again in 2021, whether that satisfies their fans’ appetites or not or makes the Rangers markedly better or not.

“This season is ultimately going to be marked by us moving into a youth movement,” Daniels said. “Everything we do moving forward is going to revolve around that. Our winter additions are going to look to fit in to the roster we are putting together and also fit into the development-minded culture we need to have.

“ … The more we stay focused on developing these players, the quicker we are going to see results. That is going to be 100% of our focus up and down the organization.”

The lack of a minor-league season has slowed development for all 30 teams, but especially those hoping to rebuild. The Rangers brought their top prospects to Arlington as part of the alternate player pool, and ended up activating many of them.

It’s too early to tell if enough of them improved to help supplement the big-league club in 2021. Some did and will, but Daniels said that the Rangers will look to add more young talent via trades early in the off-season before filling out the team and the upper levels of the minors with free agents.

“We’re not in a position to overlook any avenue of talent acquisition,” Daniels said.

The Rangers’ offense was among the worst in franchise history, and that must change. Gallo must be better, Daniels said, but everyone else must be, too.

Odor and Andrus are the two players under the most scrutiny. Odor has failed to meet expectations for four straight seasons, and Andrus hasn’t been able to match his breakthrough 2017 campaign.

A bad back hampered Andrus, who is confident he is still a quality player. Odor also dealt with injuries, but he didn’t hit when healthy early in the season and wasn’t a complete hitter down the stretch despite hitting seven September home runs.

They might not be released this off-season, but they will have to show something at spring training if they want to play regularly in 2021.

“We’ve had several conversations throughout the year and again at the end,” Daniels said. “I think both players understand what we’re looking for and that their spots on the team are not guaranteed.”

One area where the Rangers made strides during the season was defensively. They weren’t very good the first month of the season, but the promotion of center fielder Leody Taveras, shortstop Anderson Tejeda and first baseman Ronald Guzman for regular playing time made a difference.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who was selected as the Rangers Player of the Year by media covering the team, and Gallo could win Gold Gloves for their defensive work.

A good defense can help cover up some blemishes, on the mound and at the plate.

“We feel we could be one of the better defensive teams in the game,” Daniels said.

The offense and pitching, though, have a way to go.

“A lot of it is going to be which of these young players we feel are ready for the challenge next year,” Daniels said. “Those that are ready we are going to provide opportunities to compete for jobs. Those that we aren’t sure are ready, we may bring in somebody ahead of them.”


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