Teixeira trade watch continues in Texas
Angels, Braves now leading teams interested in first baseman
ARLINGTON -- Rangers first baseman Mark Teixeira could go to the Atlanta Braves or the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Or he could just stay in Texas.Reliever Akinori Otsuka, who has also been coveted by other teams, is only going to Los Angeles -- and that's only to get a second opinion on his sore right forearm/elbow. The Rangers, after sweeping the Seattle Mariners in a four-game series, were off on Thursday, but the focus is still on who may -- or may not -- be traded before Tuesday's deadline. Teixeira is at the top of the list and Major League sources said the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Atlanta Braves are both pushing hard to acquire him. Both will give up a first baseman: either Casey Kotchman from the Angels or Jarrod Saltalamacchia from the Braves. A source said both teams have made strong offers. The Braves also need relief pitching and are interested in Eric Gagne, who could replace Bob Wickman as their closer. Wickman is 2-2 with a 4.33 ERA with 17 saves in 22 opportunities. Gagne continues to draw interest from teams, both as a closer and possible setup reliever. Gagne has made it clear that he wants to remain a closer. The Braves also need left-handed relief. The Rangers aren't willing to trade C.J. Wilson but could include Ron Mahay. The Rangers want young pitching in return and the Braves' best prospects are two left-handers: Jo-Jo Reyes and Matt Harrison. Right-handers Joey Devine, Kyle Davies and Manny Acosta are also possible. The Angels are looking for another big bat in their lineup to go behind Vladimir Guerrero and have also talked to the White Sox about Paul Konerko. But they're also concerned about their starting pitching after Bartolo Colon went on the disabled list with a strained elbow. That may impair their ability to trade pitching. The Rangers like Kotchman but also have to decide whether they want to send Teixeira to a team in their division. The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox seem to have faded from the picture, at least for now. The Rangers also don't have to trade Teixeira at all. He can't be a free agent until after the 2008 season and the Rangers would be glad to bring him back next year if they can't get the right package in return.
The Rangers have won 23 of their last 37 games. That hasn't changed the position that they could be "sellers" as the deadline approaches, but it has lessened the imperative of making major moves."For a number of reasons, we got off to a slow start," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "If that had continued, we might have made change for change's sake. But we've started playing up to our capability the last two months and the feeling internally is, if we can make a trade that will make us better then we'll look at it, but we're not going to make changes just to shake things up." The Rangers continue to get interest in some of their other players, including outfielder Kenny Lofton and reliever Joaquin Benoit. The Cleveland Indians have shown the most interest in Lofton and the Rangers are reluctant to deal Benoit, especially now that Otsuka is down. Otsuka has been sidelined since July 1 with pain in the forearm/elbow area. He has played catch twice this week and now the Rangers are sending him to Los Angeles to be examined by Dr. Lewis Yocum. "More than anything, it's just for peace of mind," Daniels said. "He's been checked out here and we've been assured that it's tendinitis. We want to get him checked out, get some good news and get him back on the mound." Daniels disputed industry gossip that Otsuka might need Tommy John elbow ligament reconstruction surgery.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.