The Rangers continue to take minor steps backwards since their heartbreaking World Series loss back in 2011. A year after losing the division lead on the last day of the season when the A's completed a three-game sweep to overtake them, resulting in a wild-card spot and a one-game playoff loss to the Orioles, the Rangers failed to make the playoffs altogether in 2013.
Although they finished with a fourth consecutive 90-win season (91-72), they lost to the Rays in a one-game playoff to decide which team will face the Cleveland Indians in the wild-card game. Heading into the month of September, the Rangers had a one-game division lead over eventual AL West champion Oakland and were 4.5 games better than the Tribe.
It wasn't a complete meltdown, but the playoff spot was theirs to lose. And they lost it.
The major league roster remains relatively strong, and the farm system is still very good despite trading away four pretty good minor leaguers for Matt Garza in July and top prospect Jurickson Profar graduating to the big leagues. But general manager Jon Daniels still has some work to do if this team is going to avoid falling even further.
One question that will be answered before the start of spring training is where Profar, who had the tough task of breaking into the majors in a part-time role, will fit into the lineup next year. The 20-year-old infielder didn't put up great numbers (.644 OPS, 6 HR in 85 games), but he gained a wealth of experience and should be in a much better position to succeed in his first full big league season in 2014.
Making a quick decision on Profar would make the offseason picture much clearer. But waiting it out until they're done with their shopping would give them a better idea of where he best fits. Trading Elvis Andrus to open up shortstop, moving Ian Kinsler to first base or left field to open up second base and just trading Profar are all potential options that should make for a very interesting winter in Texas.
Here's everything else you'll need to know before Daniels and his front office team get started.