Jon Daniels aiming for Cliff Lee
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Unlike a year ago, Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels is headed to baseball's winter meetings Monday through Thursday in Orlando with money in his pocket and shooting for a Texas-sized free-agent prize: Cliff Lee.
Daniels had nothing new to report regarding negotiations with the hotly sought-after left-hander, who figures to narrow his decision this week to the Rangers and New York Yankees. Whether Lee makes his decision during the four-day meetings will keep everyone's attention.
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"He's at a pretty unique spot right now in that he's got a tremendous decision to make with a lot of -- I don't know how many -- but a number of very quality options of which we think we're certainly right there near or at the top of the list," said Daniels, who was named Major League Baseball's executive of the year by Baseball America on Friday. "I couldn't tell you exactly what is going to go into his decision-making process, but he and his family have a pretty unique opportunity to make a decision for their long-term future. He's going to take his time and make his call."
Daniels and the Rangers have met with Lee twice since the end of the World Series.
"I don't want to get into too much detail ... but I think in general he enjoyed his time here," Daniels said. "I'm not sure we were on his short list before he came here, but he had a good experience. He expressed a like for the community, our players, the organization. Obviously, he was part of something pretty special."
Daniels said the club won't be fully focused on Lee, although he acknowleged that with Lee likely to command a salary of $20 million or more, how the Rangers proceed with other needs in the free-agent market will be somewhat dictated by Lee's decision. Daniels said he had no knowledge of Lee's timetable.
Daniels said the Rangers will be looking to address other priorities as well.
"Pitching's No. 1 and the DH, additional bat No. 2, and beyond that there are a number of areas we can always add some depth," he said.
Daniels said that Vladimir Guerrero is still in the mix for the DH spot, but also said there's been some discussion about looking at a more versatile defender who could " allow some of our other guys some time off their feet and allow us the flexibility with the roster to move some guys through that position, but Vlad is certainly high on the list. We continue to talk with he and his agent."
Guerrero is seeking a two-year deal to return to the Rangers, but has told other teams that it would take a three-year deal to sign him, according to an MLB.com report Friday.
Daniels also said that "there's a pretty good chance [catcher] Matt [Treanor] will be back. He wants to be back and we want him back."
Daniels expressed optimism that Mitch Moreland could claim the starting first baseman job.
"I don't see any reason why he couldn't do it," Daniels said. "But, that's going to be on him. He'll have the opportunity to demonstrate that he can. If he were to win the job, which is certainly our hope, we don't see any reason why he can't be a full-time player."
Jeff Caplan is a reporter for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter.