12/04/08 4:30 PM EST
Rangers to patrol for arms
Texas chasing starters, relievers when Winter Meetings begin
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
Starting pitching: The Rangers need starting pitching and would love to trade for a young pitcher who fits their long-range plans. Their financial situation makes it unlikely that they'll dive heavily into the free-agent market. Bullpen: The Rangers will look into adding a closer, but won't spend big money on a free agent. They could use a left-handed reliever and a middle reliever who would replace Jamey Wright and be able to pitch multiple innings.
Third base: Travis Metcalf is the only true third baseman on the 40-man roster. The Rangers will seek a cheap alternative.Who they can trade:
Gerald Laird -- The Rangers have four catchers of interest to other teams: Laird, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden and Max Ramirez. They would like to trade Laird, who could make over $3 million in arbitration and can be a free agent after the 2010 season. Marlon Byrd -- The Rangers have depth in the outfield, and Byrd could also make over $3 million from arbitration. Hank Blalock -- The Rangers picked up his $6.2 million option for 2009, and right now he is their designated hitter -- but he could be traded for pitching. Most clubs look at him as plan B while pursuing other options, most notably Mark Teixeira. Frank Catalanotto -- He is scheduled to make $4 million this year, but really doesn't fit on this team. He is more suited for a National League team that needs a left-handed bat and/or pinch-hitter. Top prospects:
Shortstop Elvus Andrus -- He could force Michael Young to third base. Lefty Derek Holland -- He's not going anywhere. Righty Neftali Feliz -- Another "untouchable." Teagarden -- The Rangers would rather trade Laird. Outfielder Julio Borbon -- Available if the Rangers could get a top pitching prospect. Big contracts they might unload:
Vicente Padilla -- He makes $11.75 million in 2009 with an option for '10. Other clubs might be interested if they can't do something in the free-agent market. Kevin Millwood -- He's down for $12 million in 2009. If he pitches at least 180 innings, then he becomes signed for '10 at another $12 million. Same situation as Padilla. Arbitration eligible:
Byrd -- More likely subject to a trade than being non-tendered. Righty Brandon McCarthy -- He'll get another shot at the rotation. Laird -- He'll be back if not traded. Righty Frank Francisco -- He's the leading candidate to be the closer. Lefty C.J. Wilson -- He was the closer in 2008 before undergoing elbow surgery. He has fallen behind Francisco on the depth chart. Payroll summation:
The Rangers will be right around $67 million again in 2009, if that high, and that's why they won't go heavy into the free-agent market unless they can trade someone.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.