ARLINGTON— It’s Chris Young’s team now.
Well, at least as long as Ray Davis says so.
On Wednesday, Davis, the media-shy Rangers principal owner, announced the layoff of Jon Daniels as the team’s president of baseball operations barely 48 hours after Daniels and Young fired manager Chris Woodward. Young, a graduate of Highland Park High School, assumes full control of baseball operations.
Davis praised Daniels’ accomplishments in 17 years of managing Rangers baseball operations – topped by two World Series appearances – but then spoke plainly of a a decision he said he had essentially reached before the tumultuous week had even started. That being the case: Daniels, overseeing a sixth consecutive losing season, would not return for 2023.
“At the end of the day, we’re no good,” Davis said in a statement at the start of a 15-minute press conference. “And we weren’t good for six years. The main thing is to be competitive in the future, I felt we had to make a change. And [with] this change, I think Chris will come along and bring new vigor and enthusiasm to building an organization that can be consistent for many years to come.
During Daniels’ tenure, the Rangers produced four American League West titles, five playoff berths, and the 2010–11 AL championships. The Rangers had a .498 winning percentage since 2006, 17th in the majors. The youngest general manager in baseball history when he took over at age 28 a week after the end of the 2005 season, Daniels rebuilt the Rangers twice and was trying to make it a third time. Daniels turns 45 next week.
Young, considered one of the game’s brightest senior executives, had joined in December 2020 after serving as vice president of MLB. Daniels rose to the title of president of baseball operations. It was announced that they would work in partnership. No later than Monday afternoon, Young said the working arrangement was a “100% partnership”.
Davis said he informed Young of his decision on Wednesday morning only after informing Daniels of his dismissal. There was no possibility for Young to talk the owner out of the move. Young, Davis said, was “shocked” by the decision. Young was not made available for comment on Wednesday.
Daniels and Young had spoken with Davis together on Monday morning to recommend a change in management and spoke with Tony Beasley of his promotion to the position of interim manager. Daniels had led the conversation initially, said Beasley, the only member of the baseball operations department available Wednesday. Daniels was the only executive named in the press release announcing the leadership change and he opened Monday’s press conference with a statement.
This all leads to this question: why did Rangers take two separate shots on two days in the same week? Davis said he wanted no connection between the decision to fire Woodward and the decision to fire Daniels.
Also: “I felt Chris needed a good start on the  season,” Davis said. “And that’s why we did it now.”
Because there is a lot to do. Rangers need to make a decision on Beasley’s future and, if it’s not him, launch a management search. They also need more players, at least two starting pitchers and a midrange bat. And Young will have to make decisions about how the team’s baseball operations will run. Virtually every department head on the baseball side has been hired by Daniels.
And there is a rebuild to finish.
“We accepted the rebuilding plan,” Davis said of Daniels’ post-2020 recommendation. “But as we look forward to it, even though Jon has proven he can build a winning organization, I felt Chris was the right person to take us forward and that’s why I made the decision .
“The baseball operations department has never been one or two guys,” Davis added. “And the rebuilding plan involves the entire baseball department, which will help build the roster, trades, all those sorts of things. So I don’t see it as any different than it would have been if [Daniels] had stayed.
But baseball operations departments have grown exponentially in recent years, and many clubs have adopted a two-man approach similar to the structure the Rangers have employed since forming the Young-Daniels partnership.
While Davis said there are no plans to bring in another president of baseball operations, Young’s first task may be to find someone who can help him with the multifaceted elements of running the department. . A veteran executive who won and previously ran a department could be helpful. Anyway, someone like Daniels.
Davis, however, said there was never any plan for Daniels to move more into an advisory role with the expansion of Young’s role. If so, the move leaves a void that needs to be filled before Rangers can move on to other needs. Davis did not address the future of anyone else in baseball operations.
“All I can say to the fans is that we’re dealing with this with a sense of urgency,” Davis said. “The fans must be as upset as I am. I’m not a good loser. We plan to put a very competitive team on the field next year. But we will gain credibility with the fans with victories on the pitch.
Fan displeasure has been clear lately. On Monday, the Rangers drew a crowd of 13,191 to face Oakland. It was the lowest paid attendance for a Rangers game in two years since fans were allowed into Globe Life Field. On Saturday, a small pre-game crowd was present for the Rangers Hall of Fame inductions booed Daniels when he was introduced.
And yet, Daniels had answered every question put to him during the club’s unsuccessful streak dating back to 2017.
In a statement he released on Wednesday, Daniels thanked fans.
“To all the Rangers fans out there. For your passion and support. Thank you for welcoming us into your community. There are incredibly talented and motivated people in the organization, from [Young] throughout the operation. There are going to be amazing times during the summers and the falls soon, and you will get the parade you deserve.
He simply cannot participate. It’s Chris Young’s team now.
On Twitter: @Evan_P_Grant
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