The Texas Rangers officially locked up their top two front-office talents Friday, getting multi-year contract extensions for both general manager Jon Daniels and assistant general manager Thad Levine.
Both Daniels and Levine, who came on board in October of 2005, were entering the final years of their contracts and are getting new three-year deals that will run through 2018.
"It’s really about our whole baseball operations group and the desire to keep the team together for stability on this side as we continue to put the best product on the field, building from within, scouting, development, all the same things we talk about," Daniels said. "It’s really a tremendous statement by ownership for all our people, players that they want to keep the group together. Thad and I are the ones in the press release but a lot of other people are going to be impacted positively through this process."
Daniels said the ownership group approached him about an extension a year or two ago and that it’s been an ongoing process and one that he wasn’t worried about. It was an area the ownership group focused on.
"Getting our baseball leadership secured for the foreseeable future was a top priority this offseason and very important for the continuity of the organization," Rangers co-chairmen Ray Davis and Bob Simpson said in a statement. "Under Jon’s and Thad’s leadership, the Rangers have created a strong overall organization that has combined major league success with a productive scouting and player development operation over a number of years. Jon and Thad are skilled executives who are well respected around the game and completely committed to once again delivering a winning team for our fans."
Levine, 41, has been a candidate for several general manager jobs in recent years but has made it clear that he wants to remain with the Rangers. His role has expanded with the loss of A.J. Preller to San Diego as the general manager. He now has a hand in more of the club’s international dealings.
Daniels said he knows Levine will be a GM in the future and hopes it’s with the Rangers. Levine is content with the job he has now.
"When you embark on a career in baseball there are so many great opportunities but it typically comes with one negative and that is insecurity and volatility," Levine said. "I certainly feel blessed to work in a profession that I love for an organization that has treated me so well and done so many great things for my family. Every time another opportunity presents itself there’s a pretty high bar for it to get over for me to even consider it."
Daniels came to Texas in 2002 and was tabbed the youngest GM in major-league history in 2005. Levine joined the club after spending six seasons in Colorado, which is where he first worked with Daniels.
Daniels upbeat on Andrus
Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus, whose name has come up in trade talk this offseason, is working out in Miami and expected to return to Texas next month.
Daniels is confident that Andrus can have a bounce-back season in 2015 and it can be done with the Rangers.
"There’s going to be speculation," Daniels said. "That’s the nature of the business. That’s the nature of our side of the business. That’s the nature of your side of the business. That’s this time of year. We’re obviously committed to Elvis both figuratively and literally. I think he’s got his best baseball ahead of him."
Now that he’s back from the GM meetings in Phoenix, Daniels is working on hiring a new third-base coach and the club is still talking to free-agent pitcher Colby Lewis.
With the winter meetings looming next month, he reiterated that the club would likely opt for a trade over free agency as it looks to strengthen its rotation and catching.
"I do think there are some clubs that we line up with that our areas of depth line up with theirs," Daniels said. "Pitching and catcher continue to be the areas we view as priorities."