Trade Winds: Atlanta eyeing Teixeira
Braves move up as front-runners for coveted first baseman
Mark Teixeira to Atlanta?
A move to the National League East team would make sense in many ways, but it remains to be seen whether the Rangers and Braves will be able to reach an agreement on a trade that would send the 27-year-old first baseman from Texas to Atlanta before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
For now, however, Atlanta has apparently moved past Boston as the front-runners for Teixeira's services.
As of early Wednesday afternoon, the two sides still had not reached agreement on a deal that would send Teixeira to the Braves for switch-hitting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and prospects. The identity of the other players involved is believed to be one of the holdups in completing this deal. According to sources, Braves pitching prospect Jo-Jo Reyes and 18-year-old shortstop Elvis Andrus are among those who have been discussed.
Teixeira, who is batting .300 with 13 homers and 48 RBIs, is making $9 million this year and is eligible for arbitration this winter. He would give Atlanta another middle-of-the-order bat that could significantly enhance its playoff chances this season. Teixeira would also fill the void at first base, provide the left-handed power upgrade the lineup needs and soften the impact the Braves would face if slugger Andruw Jones leaves via free agency after the season.
The Rangers would get at least three outstanding young prospects to build around, with Saltalamacchia, who can also play first base, the best of the bunch.
After Atlanta and Boston, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have also shown interest in Teixiera.
Elsewhere on the trade front Wednesday:
Angels: Once offered a $62 million contract from the Angels in 2005, Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko is reportedly being targeted by general manager Bill Stoneman. Konerko, batting .261 with 22 homers and 61 RBIs, joins teammate Jermaine Dye as Chicago's potential trading chips. Dye is a free agent at the conclusion of this season, while Konerko (signed through 2010) must waive his limited no-trade clause to make the switch to Anaheim.
Astros: No fewer than a dozen scouts, including Arizona vice president/special assistant to the GM Bob Gebhard and Pittsburgh special assistant to the GM Pete Vuckovich, were on hand for Tuesday night's game started by Dodgers left-hander Mark Hendrickson and Astros right-hander Jason Jennings at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros are willing to move Jennings, who becomes a free agent at season's end, for the right price, but are equally willing to keep the right-hander for the remainder of his contract and perhaps get draft pick compensation if he leaves via free agency.
With Hunter Pence on the shelf for the next four to six weeks, the Astros are scouring the market for a center fielder who can step into that role this year, and possibly beyond. If the Astros can find a true center fielder, they could move Pence to right field next year, with Carlos Lee staying put in left.
Astros owner Drayton McLane met with GM Tim Purpura and his staff on Tuesday and confirmed the Astros are talking to "multiple clubs about different opportunities."
"You've got to respond to what other people want to accomplish and what they're willing to give," McLane said.
The Astros are getting the most calls about relievers Dan Wheeler, Chad Qualls and Brad Lidge, but none are facing free agency and the Astros intend to keep the trio as the core of next season's bullpen. Infielders Mark Loretta and Mike Lamb are also drawing attention, but the Astros aren't likely to deal either player.
Athletics: The Red Sox continue to express interest in A's outfielder Bobby Kielty. The switch-hitter was designated for assignment prior to Monday's game with the Angels, and rumors began immediately that the Red Sox were an interested party. They have offered pitcher Joel Piniero, whom they designated for assignment, but the A's are not interested in the right-hander.
Cubs: Cubs GM Jim Hendry may not be finished making deals.
"I'd like to tinker with it a little if we could," Hendry said Tuesday.
The Cubs are hoping they can survive without Daryle Ward, sidelined with a calf injury. They're hoping Jake Fox can provide a right-handed bat off the bench. If Kerry Wood has a successful rehab, it'll be like adding a new arm to the bullpen. Wood was scheduled to pitch three times this week for Class A Peoria, starting Tuesday.
"If we get Woody back, it would be better than any trade we could make," Hendry said.
Clay Rapada, Carmen Pignatiello and Neal Cotts are pitching for Triple-A Iowa if the Cubs need more help in the 'pen. Sean Gallagher and Juan Mateo both are starting for the Triple-A team, and could be called upon.
"Sometimes, your own solutions come from in-house," Hendry said.
Devil Rays, Phillies, Twins: A scout from Tampa Bay was in attendance to watch the Twins in Toronto on Tuesday, adding fuel to the rumor that the Twins are interested in Devil Rays infielder Ty Wigginton.
Phillies assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. watched prospect Kevin Slowey pitch for Triple-A Rochester on Saturday. The Phillies need an arm, and the Twins may be interested in Pat Burrell. The 30-year-old left fielder started off the season slow, but is batting .404 in July and has 12 home runs this season.
Giants: Scouts from the Phillies and Braves were spotted at the Giants game on Tuesday, presumably to check out starting pitcher Matt Morris or reliever Steve Kline. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the Phillies' trade talks only include Burrell.
Marlins: The scarcity of scouts at any of Dontrelle Willis' recent starts, along with Florida GM Larry Beinfest's insistence that Willis won't be traded, could be seen as further indications the D-Train will be staying in Miami.
Nationals: A day after hearing that teammate Ronnie Belliard signed a two-year, $3.5 million extension, Nationals first baseman Dmitri Young said he wants to stay in Washington, but acknowledged there is a "ceiling on what to accept and not accept" in terms of a contract extension. Young, who is making $500,000 this year, declined to say what kind of money he was looking for, and said his agent, Adam Katz, was handling the negotiations.
GM Jim Bowden has said he wants Young to stay, but it's no secret that Young also is on the trade block. It has been reported that the Braves, Twins and Angels have interest in his services, but Young would prefer to be the Nationals' leader for the next few years.
Rangers: In addition to Teixeira, the Rangers could deal Kenny Lofton, Sammy Sosa, Akinori Otsuka, Joaquin Benoit, Jamey Wright and Eric Gagne.
Red Sox: It may only be a matter of time before Kielty joins the Red Sox in Wily Mo Pena's current role. Pena has been mentioned in rumors involving the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates.
According to The Boston Herald, Todd Helton has hit the rumor mill again, months after an offseason in which the Red Sox reportedly fell short of acquiring him from Colorado.
Royals: Royals second baseman Mark Grudzielanek continues to attract interest from other teams, with the Mets believed to be the front-runners for the 2006 Gold Glove Award winner. The Royals would want a strong player in return. The organization views Grudzielanek in very high regard because of his defense, solid hitting in the No. 2 hole and veteran leadership with Kansas City's many young players, including Tony Pena. Esteban German, similar to Grudzielanek offensively, is viewed as a serviceable everyday second baseman if Grudzielanek is traded. Grudzielanek has a $4 million player option that triggers if he gets to 500 at-bats this season -- a number that is well within range.
Tigers: Detroit is keeping up the search for bullpen help, and it had scouts at Texas and Kansas City on Tuesday.
White Sox: Prior to Tuesday's doubleheader sweep of the Tigers, manager Ozzie Guillen said that this year's trade market was slow and that there were few opportunities for a team like the Sox to make a move. But that hasn't stopped other teams from trying. Add Jon Garland and Konerko to the long list of White Sox players who could be on the move.
The New York Post reported earlier this week that the Yankees were interested in making a deal for Garland. The Chicago Tribune cited an industry source, saying that the Angels had expressed interest in Konerko. A deal for Konerko seems unlikely. He was recently signed to a major contact extension and is a fan favorite, much like Mark Buehrle in Chicago. Dye and Jose Contreras remain the front-runners to be moved, although Tadahito Iguchi and Javier Vazquez have also been mentioned as potential trade chips.
Yankees: Key members of the front office met in Tampa, Fla., for more than three hours on Tuesday, discussing how they want to improve the club, according to the New York Post. With little specifics reported, it seems the Yankees are falling farther out of the Teixeira sweepstakes with their unwillingness to deal top prospects Joba Chamberlain -- who was just promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre -- or Phil Hughes. The Yankees are still scouting the White Sox, however, according to the report.
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.