The Rangers brass are headed to Nashville where the annual winter meetings will be held in Music City. Now Texas is not sending a brass band. By “brass” I mean the top people in baseball operations. I’m not sure if Jon Daniels ever took music lessons, but he has hit all the right notes lately. The winter meetings are the biggest event of the off season and as we approach them I echo a familiar refrain, “Trust JD, trust Thad Levine, trust the baseball ops department…Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la.”
Don’t expect the Rangers to make a huge splash at this year’s gathering of “everyone who is anyone” in baseball. The truth is that the Rangers have done so much right lately that they don’t need to do much this December. The acquisition of Cole Hamels at the trade deadline helped insure a quiet off season. The Rangers now have two pitchers who could be called an ace and neither one of them makes $31 million a year like David Price now does for Boston.
Still, the acquisition of Tom Wilhelmsen this off season bolsters a bull-pen that was remade at the trade deadline. The Rangers have five power arms out there now, any of which could close games. For now it appears that the closer will be Shaun Tolleson, as he did nothing to lose his spot except pitch too much down the stretch, but adding some backup for the pen was the first thing that JD did this off season. The Rangers still have Sam Dyson, a closer waiting to happen, and Wilhelmsen has done it before including last year in Seattle. Jake Diekman has wicked stuff from the left side and the Rangers have long thought that Keone Kela has the stuff that closers are made of. That group in combination really shortens games.
There was a player to be named later in the Wilhelmsen deal, and his name is Patrick Kivlehan. He is one of the best prospects in the Mariners organization and a former stand out football player at Rutgers (in fact, he played only one year of college baseball). He is a right handed power hitter who can play first base, third base and outfield. That, most likely, means the Rangers won’t re-sign Mike Napoli. The reality is Nap was another perfect late season move by JD, but as much as the Rangers need right handed power, they don’t need another DH, as they have the AL comeback player of the year occupying that position in Prince Fielder.
One other off season move that could pay dividends was the signing of Chris Giminez. You may wonder how a back-up catcher can be significant, but consider this; both Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels chose Chris as their personal catcher. Giminez is one of the “best guys” to have ever worn the Rangers uniform and since both aces have recognized that he will likely have a future donning the Rangers uniform.
So don’t expect much from the Music City winter meetings except maybe some Christmas Carols, “Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la.”