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Rangers rumors: Justin Upton, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Marcell Ozuna

Thad Levine says the Texas Rangers organization admires Justin Upton.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

In an interview with MLB Network Radio, Thad Levine -- the assistant general manager for the Texas Rangers -- said that "Justin Upton is a player they've [long] admired."

While admiration is certainly something Upton's camp should be pleased to hear, it isn't necessarily making him employed any sooner. Furthermore, Levine started with the caveat that the Rangers will stay in touch with the existing free agents and added "if something falls into our lap, we'll be poised to strike."

Levine and the rest of the Rangers front office are really only admitting to doing due diligence that all front offices should be doing. If a free agent 'falls into your lap' the other 29 teams have probably failed.

That being said, it is good for fans to hear that a front office is keeping in touch with the remaining free agents. While Upton may not particularly fit into the Rangers current outfield structure -- which includes Delino DeShields, Shin-soo Choo, and Josh Hamilton -- a case could be made for signing the free agent outfielder.

Earlier this off-season, Mitch Moreland was reportedly being shopped, and with Hamilton's defense deteriorating that could open up a spot in the outfield. Unfortunately for Upton, that spot is likely to be filled by highly-touted prospect Joey Gallo.

Levine also went on MLB Network Radio to quell the rumor that Chi Chi Gonzalez had been offered to the Marlins in exchange for Marcell Ozuna.

Going into 2016, the Rangers have some perceived strength in their rotation. However, having just been eliminated from the postseason thanks in part to a thin rotation, the Rangers shouldn't be motivated to tamper with that depth.

Gonzalez, who made some fairly good starts in his rookie campaign, finished with a 3.44 DRA on the season. However, his cFIP (context fielding independent pitching, also FIP-) actually had him 20 percent worse than the mean. Gonzalez is still under team control for six more years and parting ways with him may expose a rotation lacking depth beyond the Rangers' fifth starter.

Ozuna on the other hand is still under team control for the next four seasons, and has proven beyond any doubt that he is an asset at the major league level. That being said, he is coming off a down year at the plate with a .302 wOBA, and his strikeout percentage over the past two seasons of 24.8 percent is somewhat worrisome.

The Marlins would probably expect more than Gonzalez for Ozuna. However, they may not get a better offer from anyone else. While Levine did say that trade hadn't been offered, he said he has had discussions with the Marlins. Going forward depends on how motivated either party is to improving their club.