Like it or not, John Daniels deserves some credit for this current, Texas Rangers team. Now, before anyone runs to the defense of current GM Chris Young, please hear me out and let me be perfectly clear. Chris Young deserves each and every bit of praise he receives himself for getting the Rangers to the World Series. But we also shouldn't be so quick to dismiss the work Daniels did, simply because we may not have all liked the guy. So, let's look at two major reasons why he deserves credit for this team.
Jon Daniels rebuilt a culture of winning
I know it was 18 years ago, but let's remember that Daniels began the job as the youngest General Manager in MLB history at the age of just 28 years and 41 days. Not long after, he traded All-Star second baseman Alfonso Soriano to the Nationals. While the Rangers didn't get much back long-term for Soriano, it did free up a log-jammed infield to promote future All-Star second baseman Ian Kinsler.
Rather quickly, he traded away Chris Young yes, THAT Chris Young ... to the Padres. Honestly, that one did not work out so well, and frankly it's one many fans point back to as a mark against Daniels. However, every GM has their misses. So now, let's look at the better moves.
For the sake of time, let's quickly look at the chronological list of moves and decisions Daniels made as GM. At the '06 trade deadline, he made a trade for highly coveted slugger Carlos Lee. But as almost an afterthought in the deal, Daniels negotiated Nelson Cruz into the trade. Months later, Daniels fired hard-nosed manager Buck Showalter in search of "a different perspective," and hired Ron Washington. Then, at the '07 deadline, Daniels made what might have been the most famous deal of his career, sending Mark Teixeira to the Braves for catching prospect Jarrod Saltalamacchia and four minor leaguers. Among those four were LHP Matt Harrison, shortstop prospect Elvis Andrus, and flame-throwing pitching prospect Neftalí Feliz. The following offseason, he sent away pitching prospect Edinson Vólquez for future All-Star outfielder Josh Hamilton.
To round things out, Daniels authored deals for RHP Rich Harden, future Hall of Fame outfielder/DH Vladimir Guerrero, RHP Colby Lewis, and catcher Bengie Molina. Then came the successes of 2010 and 2011 where Texas fought their way to back-to-back American League Championships. Of course, we can't leave out the pre-deadline deal in 2010 that brought in All-Star LHP Cliff Lee, or the free agent signing of superstar third baseman Adrián Beltré before 2011. Over the next five seasons, the Rangers would make three more playoff appearances, although not coming nearly as close to winning it all as they did in '10-11.
Jon Daniels left his fingerprints all over this team as well
Make no mistake, the leadership and decision-making of Chris Young has led to a culture change and overall different feel throughout the organization. That can't be denied. But again, here are some key moves that Daniels made before his promotion out of the role of GM and ultimately his departure from the franchise altogether.
International free agents José Leclerc and Leody Taveras were signed in 2010 and 2015, respectively by Daniels. As for drafted players, he's taken Bubba Thompson (2017, McGill-Toolen Catholic HS, Alabama), Josh Jung (2019, Texas Tech University), and Evan Carter (2020, Elizabethton HS, Tennessee). Regarding trade deals, Daniels successfully traded for LHP Brock Burke in a three-team deal. And just days after handing the GM role over to Young, Daniels still had a part in two different negotiations trading for Nathaniel Lowe and Dane Dunning. Last but not least, in December of 2019, Daniels purchased the contract of 2023 American League Championship Series MVP Adolis García. I think we can all agree that one worked out pretty well.
To say Daniels has no part in this World Series run is disingenuous. The list above accounts for nine players from the current active roster who have made an impact on the team this season. It's not to say he deserves ALL the credit but give the man his due. Without the work of Jon Daniels, this Rangers team might not be competing for a championship. So at the very least, please allow this guy to say, "Thank you, Jon Daniels. Your past efforts are appreciated and not forgotten."
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