12/06/11 12:45 AM EST
Rangers set sights on utility infielder
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
Rangers trying to keep reliever Oliver
DALLAS -- Left-handed reliever remains a significant need for the Rangers. General manager Jon Daniels would like to fill that hole with Darren Oliver.Daniels said he has had preliminary discussions with Oliver's agent, Jeff Frye, about re-signing the veteran, and Daniels hopes to get something done soon. The sides are expected to meet and talk here at the Winter Meetings. "We haven't talked specifics. ... We probably need to," Daniels said. "Hopefully we'll be the last team he'll play for." Oliver was 5-5 with a 2.29 ERA that was the second lowest in the American League for a left-handed reliever with at least 40 innings pitched. Oliver turned 41 in October, but he and his wife feel he is good to go for one more season. They make their home in the Metroplex. "Obviously, Darren loves playing for the Rangers," Frye said. "We've had some other teams interested in him. After the Rangers came so close this past season, mama gave her blessing for Darren to go out and get a ring somewhere." The Rangers also remain interested in signing Michael Gonzalez, their second left-handed reliever in the playoffs. He recently had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, but the Rangers have been told he should be ready by Spring Training. Daniels is hoping to meet with Gonzalez's agent, Scott Boras, at the Winter Meetings. The Rangers are not committed to adding a left-hander, but upgrading their bullpen is a priority. "If the best guy is a right-hander, we'll bring in a right-hander," Daniels said.
Tanner Scheppers is pitching in relief for Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League and the Rangers will give him a chance to win a job in the bullpen during Spring Training. Scheppers has allowed one earned run on five hits in 13 innings while walking 13 and striking out 16. Daniels said the Rangers have had preliminary conversations with some of their players about multiyear contracts. Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Colby Lewis, who can all be free agents after next season, are likely top priorities. Discussions will likely get serious in January as their arbitration dates approach and could carry into Spring Training. Jayce Tingler has replaced Mike Micucci as the Rangers' Minor League field coordinator. Micucci has been offered some other options within the organization. Kevin Cash, who caught for the Rangers at Triple-A Round Rock last year, has accepted a job as the Blue Jays' advance scout.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.