Rangers’ uncertainty extends to GM

The Rangers’ mess could cost them their general manager.

Jon Daniels, the Texas GM, can opt out of his contract after this season if the team changes owners, major-league sources say.

The out clause likely will amount to nothing if the group headed by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan buy the team; Daniels wants to stay with the team and a source with knowledge of the group’s plans says he would be “totally safe” under a Greenberg-Ryan ownership.

But Ryan, in response to the latest roadblock in the sale proceedings, conceded to reporters Thursday that his group might not end up with the Rangers.

A decision by William K. Snyder, the court-appointed chief restructuring officer of the Rangers’ bankruptcy case, could allow Houston businessman Jim Crane and perhaps others to become viable bidders.

The Rangers were to be sold in an auction next Friday in a bidding process controlled by Major League Baseball. Snyder, appointed to make sure the team was maximizing its assets, said Thursday he no longer supported the process but still believed the team should be sold at an auction.

“It’s a good possibility that it might not happen,” Ryan said about owning the team. “The way they’ve invited Crane back into the picture, they seem to be more concerned with him than anyone else.”

Ryan said he did not know what he would do after this season if another group took control of the team.

Daniels, 32, is signed through 2011. He almost certainly would be in demand if he left the Rangers, who lead the AL West by 5½ games even though their $55.2 million Opening Day payroll was the fourth-lowest in the game.

The Diamondbacks are searching for a new GM, and the Cubs are among the other teams that could make a change. Daniels would be free to leave if Crane or someone else became owner, or if MLB took control of the club.

“That’s not even remotely on my mind,” Daniels told FOXSports.com. “All of the focus should be on the team and what they’re doing.

“My family and I love it here. We all want to see through what we’ve started, continue building this, work to put the club in position to win. We’ve got a great group that I’d love to see stay together for a long time, both on and off the field.”

The Rangers have operated under financial restrictions for more than a year because of their ownership transition. Yet, they are in position to succeed not only this season, but also for years to come.

Most of the team’s core players are under club control through at least 2012, and the team’s farm system is ranked second in the majors by Baseball America.

Shortstop Elvis Andrus and closer Neftali Feliz, two young players acquired by Daniels in the Mark Teixeira trade on July 31, 2007, recently were named to the American League All-Star team.

But the outcome of the Rangers’ sale – and the possibility of the Greenberg-Ryan group pumping fresh money into the team – is anything but assured.

The Rangers’ case is highly unlikely to be resolved by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. The team, however, recently added catcher Bengie Molina in a cash-neutral deal and is trying to work out a similar trade for Mariners ace left-hander Cliff Lee. One rival GM believes the Rangers are the favorite to land Lee because of their depth of young talent.

Snyder did not say which terms of the proposed auction he did not like or if his rejection was based on any issues that arose during this week’s mediation between the team and its angry creditors.

Outside experts had suggested the narrow guidelines in the bidding process were a clever maneuver to push through the long-delayed sale to the Greenberg-Ryan group, MLB’s preferred buyer.

If an auction is not held next Friday, the delay could push back the July 22 confirmation hearing, in which Snyder will recommend whether the team’s bankruptcy plan should be approved.

The team filed for Chapter 11 protection in May with a plan to pay creditors $75 million and sell the Rangers to the Greenberg-Ryan group. The sale had been stalled for months by lenders’ concerns over $525 million in loan defaults by team owner Tom Hicks’ ownership group.

After creditors’ numerous objections to the team’s bankruptcy plan, the Rangers agreed to an auction after Snyder indicated that was the only way he would consider approving the plan.

It’s unclear how the bidding procedures will change. In the team’s auction proposal filed Monday, MLB would decide who was eligible to bid and set strict guidelines, including a $1.5 million deposit and an opening bid of more than $500 million. The league could have rejected the highest bidder and selected the runner-up instead.

The motion also included paying a $15 million “break-up” fee to the Greenberg-Ryan group if it was not chosen as the buyer.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.