Koji Uehara Rumors

Rangers Relievers Drawing Interest

Teams seeking bullpen depth have started calling the Rangers about possible trades, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. The Rangers may be able to part with a right-handed reliever now that left-hander Robbie Ross has made a strong case for a 25-man roster spot.

Right-handers Koji Uehara and Mark Lowe may be expendable in trades. They’ll earn $4MM and $1.7MM, respectively, before hitting free agency next offseason. The Rangers are still looking for a middle infielder who can play short and a right-handed hitting outfielder for the bench, according to Grant.

Rangers Prefer To Keep Their Pitching Depth

The Rangers "might prefer" to keep some of the extra arms on their pitching staff rather than make a trade, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX SportsScott Feldman, Koji Uehara and Mark Lowe are cited as Rosenthal as the expendable members of the Rangers staff but they look likely to remain in Texas unless relievers Robert Ross or Tanner Scheppers perform well enough in Spring Training to earn jobs, which could convince the club to deal one of their veterans.

Most of the Rangers' rotation and bullpen jobs are set, and the presence of Alexi Ogando as a swingman gives Texas some backup if one of the starters falters.  This leaves Feldman, who has battled both injuries and ineffectiveness since his breakout 2009 campaign.  Feldman did pitch well in limited action in 2011 — a 3.94 ERA and 2.20 K/BB ratio in 32 innings.  The right-hander will earn $6.5MM this season and the Rangers hold a $9.25MM club option on him for 2013 that looks almost certain to be bought out (at a cost of $600K).

Feldman, Uehara and Lowe all drew trade buzz over the winter, with the Red Sox showing interest in the two relievers, and Uehara using his limited no-trade clause to reject a proposed deal to the Blue Jays.  Uehara has posted better numbers than Lowe over the last three seasons but turns 37 in April and is earning $4MM in 2012; Lowe is eight years younger and a cheaper option at just $1.7MM.

Rosenthal notes that the Rangers received calls about Colby Lewis during the offseason as well, but the club preferred to keep the right-hander due to his durability (200+ IP in each of the last two seasons).  It's no surprise Texas wanted to keep Lewis since their rotation, while deep and promising, has several question marks — Matt Harrison and Derek Holland aren't yet completely proven entities as reliable starters, Neftali Feliz is transitioning to starting from the bullpen and Yu Darvish is making his debut to North American baseball.

Rangers Notes: Feldman, Uehara, Lowe, Webb

On this date in 2000, the Rangers acquired David Segui and cash in a three-team trade. Texas sent Lee Stevens to the Expos, the Expos sent Brad Fullmer to the Blue Jays, and the Jays sent Segui and cash to the Rangers. Here's the latest from the two-time defending AL champs…

  • The Rangers have gotten calls about Scott Feldman, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). They have a strong inclination to hang onto the versatile 29-year-old right-hander, however.
  • Given their deep cache of right-handed relievers, Heyman says (on Twitter) that Texas could still trade Koji Uehara or Mark Lowe. Uehara invoked his no-trade clause to reject a deal to the Blue Jays in January.
  • The Rangers rolled the dice with Brandon Webb last season, and ESPN's Buster Olney says (on Twitter) that the 32-year-old sinkerballer continues to work out with the intention of getting back on the mound for a team at some point.

AL West Notes: Abreu, Uehara, Manny

The AL West saw no shortage of action this offseason, with notables Albert Pujols, Yu Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes joining the ranks, but the division may yet make a few more transactions headlines before Opening Day. Here's the latest …

  • Angels outfielder/DH Bobby Abreu told Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportesLosAngeles.com that he'd like to be traded if he's not assured of an everyday role this season — this after Halos skipper Mike Scioscia said Sunday that Abreu will split time at DH with Mark Trumbo and/or Kendrys Morales. GM Jerry Dipoto responded by saying Abreu has "no right" to issue an ultimatum, according to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com.
  • Rangers GM Jon Daniels said Texas has no trades in the works right now, including any involving releiver Koji Uehara, and still has no plans to sign right-hander Roy Oswalt, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Uehara has long been rumored to be on the trade block.
  • Athletics GM Billy Beane said there are no guarantees for DH Manny Ramirez, recently signed to a minor league contract, beyond Day 1, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Beane also told reporters, including Jane Lee of MLB.com, that signing Manny was strictly a baseball decision — not for PR — and that "we couldn't come up with a reason not to sign him" (Twitter links).

AL East Notes: Crawford, Youkilis, Orioles, Uehara

Here's the latest from the AL East…

  • Red Sox owner John Henry e-mailed the Boston Globe today to clarify his comments from last October about not wanting to sign Carl Crawford in the 2010-11 offseason.  "At the time I was opposed due to too many lefties in the lineup and particularly in the outfield,” Henry wrote. “My answer was an honest, off-the-cuff response on a radio station to a false assertion that ownership signed him for offseason PR purposes.. This was a baseball decision I ultimately backed.”
  • Crawford, for his part, told media today (including Mike Petraglia of WEEI.com) that he wasn't pleased to hear Henry's comments.  “I was a little surprised to hear the comments but like I said, it’s unfortunate he feels that way. I just wish those words hadn’t come out," Crawford said.
  • Kevin Youkilis isn't worried about his contract situation, he told reporters (including WEEI.com's Alex Speier) today.  The Red Sox hold a $13MM option on Youkilis for 2013 that can be bought out for $1MM.  "For me, it’s not about a contract year. If I stay healthy and play hard, do all the little things to help the team, I know I can play here,” Youkilis said.  “I know if I’m out there starting everyday and we win a World Series….it’s going to be hard for them not to bring me back. I want to make it as hard on them as possible to not bring me back.”
  • Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com looks at how minor league options could impact which pitchers the Orioles keep on their roster this spring.  Baltimore has 10 players on its 40-man roster who are out of options, the highest number of any team.
  • Toronto's climate played a role in Koji Uehara rejecting a trade to the Blue Jays, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.  "The weather is an issue," Uehara said. "I also know how hard it is to compete in that division."  Despite the toughness of the AL East, Uehara has reportedly expressed an interest in returning to the Orioles if a trade could be worked out, though he told Sullivan that he would also be happy continuing to pitch for the Rangers.
  • To round out the division's teams, here are some items about the Rays and Yankees from earlier today, plus the news that the Yankees have agreed to a deal with Raul Ibanez.

Quick Hits: Appel, Angels, Uehara, Garland, Oswalt

On this day in 1982, the Padres traded Ozzie Smith, Steve Mura, and Al Olmsted to the Cardinals for Luis DeLeon, Sixto Lezcano and Garry Templeton.  The trade was sparked by both Smith and Templeton having issues with their respective teams.  Here's a look at today's links..

  • Stanford righty Mark Appel isn't a lock for the No. 1 pick in the draft, writes ESPN's Keith Law (Insider req'd). Appel touched 97mph in the first inning of his first start, but sat 91-95mph for the next six innings and doesn't command his fastball well enough in the zone to miss as many bats as he should, says Law. Law also looks at some Stanford hitters who should go high in the draft and notes some impressive velocity from around the country yesterday.
  • The Angels have hired former big leaguers Gary Varsho and Jeff Cirillo as scouts, tweets ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.
  • Rangers reliever Koji Uehara wants to get his situation settled and know where he's playing this season, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.  Texas has been talking with clubs about a possible deal, including the Athletics.
  • The Indians are still working through details in their talks with Jon Garland, tweets Jordan Bastian of MLB.com.  The pitcher was originally set to undergo a physical on Monday but that now seems unlikely.
  • When asked about adding Roy Oswalt or anyone else, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak told reporters, "We're always open for business here," tweets Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.
  • Dusty Baker only has one year remaining on his contract, but the Reds skipper says that he isn't concerned about it, writes Mark Sheldon of MLB.com.
  • Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner told Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter) that he hasn't heard from the team about a long-term contract yet.
  • Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter) has the contract figures on two minor league signings from earlier this offseason.  Joel Pineiro will earn $1.5MM if he makes the big league roster with the Phillies while Ryan Spilborghs will receive a $1MM base salary if he's in the majors with the Indians.

Quick Hits: Uehara, Burnett, Diamondbacks, Tigers

Friday Night Links..

  • While one source told Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram that a trade of Koji Uehara could free up enough money for the Rangers to sign free agent Roy Oswalt, another source said that any money saved would be pocketed rather than be used on Oswalt or Mike Gonzalez.
  • The other team involved in the A.J. Burnett talks was the Phillies, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com. However, the club would've had to clear Joe Blanton's to make the deal work.
  • The Diamondbacks will be on the lookout for catching depth through Spring Training, Olney tweets.
  • In his blog for the Detroit Free Press, Jamie Samuelsen writes that the Tigers should stay in-house when it comes to their fifth starter position rather than scour the open market for an affordable arm.  The highly-touted Jacob Turner is among the candidates for the backend of the rotation.

Rangers, Athletics Getting Closer To Uehara Deal

4:05pm: A deal between the A's and Rangers is unlikely today, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link), since the Rangers are talking to another team.  More progress could be made over the weekend.

2:48pm: Several clubs, including the A's, are talking to the Rangers about Uehara, reports T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.

12:57pm: The Rangers and Athletics are "getting close" to a trade involving reliever Koji Uehara, reports Joe Stiglich of the San Jose Mercury News (via Twitter).  The A's are known to be looking for relief help, with Uehara and free agent Mike Gonzalez the two names most frequently connected to the club.  Texas has also been connected to Gonzalez and in fact have been trying to create payroll space for that signing by dealing Uehara.

Uehara has a partial no-trade clause in his contract and has already blocked one deal this winter that would've sent him to Toronto.  It's unknown if the A's are one of the other five teams on Uehara's no-trade list.

The two AL West rivals last completed a trade with each other in January 2011, a swap that sent Guillermo Moscoso to Oakland.  The Rangers were one of several teams who talked to the A's about Andrew Bailey before Bailey was eventually dealt to the Red Sox earlier this winter.

Rangers Notes: Uehara, Oswalt, Organization

Here's the latest from the Lone Star State….

Athletics In On Uehara, Mike Gonzalez, Manny

The Athletics are continuing to talk to the Rangers about reliever Koji Uehara, and they are also in talks with free agent lefty Mike Gonzalez, tweeted ESPN's Buster Olney this morning.  Though Olney's tweet came prior to the Yoenis Cespedes bombshell, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports later tweeted that the A's still seek a reliever and Gonzalez is a possibility.  And according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the A's are still likely to sign designated hitter Manny Ramirez, although they're out on Cuban free agent Jorge Soler in the wake of the Cespedes signing.

The A's and Rangers have spoken about a few relievers this offseason, most notably Andrew Bailey before he was traded to the Red Sox. Uehara recently invoked his no-trade clause to block a deal to the Blue Jays, and is said to prefer a return to the Orioles. Texas is reportedly looking to move the righty to free up room for Gonzalez, who finished last season with them.  MLBTR's Tim Dierkes took a look at some other potential suitors for Gonzalez this morning.

Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.