Taylor Teagarden Rumors
The possible sale of the Texas Rangers from current owner Tom Hicks to a group led by Chuck Greenberg won't have any major repercussions on the team's current front-office composition or any of their planned winter transactions. In regards to the front office, Rangers president Nolan Ryan told MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan that should the sale go through, there won't be any "drastic changes" to how the club operates in the short-term, though "any areas of immediate need" will be addressed once the new ownership team has had a chance to fully assess things. Ryan himself is probably a big reason for this continuity, given that he is part of Greenberg's ownership group and will retain his position under the new regime.
Sullivan also heard from Texas GM Jon Daniels that the sale shouldn't interfere with any trades or signings the Rangers might have in the works, but the club is prepared to shift gears if necessary. Daniels told Sullivan, "We are not changing our plans, but we will evaluate anything or be happy to adjust when that time comes. Nolan and I have discussed that possibility and it could certainly give us some options at some point....The timing of that is unclear, but we're going forward with the same plans and financial parameters. And if that changes, we will adjust."
Daniels also discussed what some of these plans might entail in regards to what's left on the Texas wish list...
- Daniels said the team is more likely to bring in a second-tier veteran catcher or two to provide depth, rather than look for an everyday catcher. The GM said the club is satisfied with their current catching corps of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden and Kevin Richardson.
- The Rangers are one of many, many teams interested in Matt Capps, and also "have ongoing talks" about free agent reliever Darren Oliver.
- The ever-impending Mike Lowell-for-Max Ramirez trade will hopefully be finalized this week when Lowell undergoes a physical.
- Daniels said there is "a decent chance" the team will sign another starting pitcher for depth purposes.
- The door isn't closed on Texas signing a free agent bat like Jermaine Dye or Vladimir Guerrero, if their price is right.
- The Rangers would like a utility infielder, but "that seems to be low on their priorities."
The Texas Rangers have an embarrassment of riches behind the plate, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden and Max Ramirez all checking in at age 25 or younger. Saltalamacchia has received the most playing time at the big league level this year, hitting .255-.307-.411 in 153 plate appearances, but Teagarden has put up a more than respectable .347 OBP in 49 PA as Salty's backup. Ramirez is stashed away in Triple-A after putting up a .217-.345-.370 line in 55 PA last year.
With the team currently sporting a 4.5 game lead in the AL West and young catching always in demand, is now the time for the Rangers to make a move and push for the franchise's first playoff berth in 1999? Could a package centered around one of those three catchers plus one of Texas' promising young arms be enough to entice the Astros to move Roy Oswalt? What do you guys think?
Mike Axisa writes for River Ave. Blues.
Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes that the signing of Jason Varitek "should end any more talk of Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Taylor Teagarden being traded to Boston."
Saltalamacchia will head into spring training atop the Rangers' catching depth chart, but Teagarden can win himself consideration with a strong showing in camp. Salty, 23, hit .253 last season with three home runs and 26 RBI in 198 at-bats. Teagarden, 25, batted .319 with six dingers and 17 RBI in 47 at-bats during a short time with the big league club.
Some quick notes from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe:
- The Twins and Giants will be monitoring Joe Crede's workouts in Arizona next week. Both teams have had ongoing interest this month.
- The Twins and Rangers are continuing to seriously consider Eric Gagne.
- Cafardo notes the growing sentiment among middle-market teams that patience could land an all star caliber player for a "low-risk one-year deal."
- Milwaukee would prefer to save and make a "Sabathia-like" deadline deal rather than spend now.
- Adam Melhuse signing with Texas could be a signal that Taylor Teagarden or Jarrod Saltalamacchia are en route to the Red Sox. Cafardo cautions that's probably not the case since the Rangers have not come down on their asking price of Clay Buchholz.
- Watch for the Cubs to reengage the Padres and Jake Peavy now that they have found an owner in billionaire Tom Ricketts.
5:41pm: Brewers GM Doug Melvin confirmed interest in Looper but denied that they're close to a deal. Melvin would not say whether the Brewers made an offer, but suggested Looper and the Brewers' other targets want multiyear deals.
10:28am: In the "Etc." section of his Sunday update, Nick Cafardo has some updated information on a few free agents, as well as some potential trades.
- Updating a key part of the back-of-the-rotation market, Cafardo says Braden Looper is "close to signing with the Brewers."
- The Diamondbacks and Red Sox may soon revisit the possibility of an Eric Byrnes trade. Such a deal would likely be made more enticing for the Sox if Miguel Montero were somehow included.
- The Red Sox would really rather not move Clay Buchholz for a catcher, even if that catcher were Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Taylor Teagarden of the Texas Rangers. However, Daniel Bard may be in play for a potential deal with Texas.
- The Reds, Indians, Pirates and Giants are all in the mix for Ty Wigginton. Back on Dec. 18, we had a Wigginton update in an Odds and Ends post that said the player was not interested in returning to Pittsburgh.
Other topics of note (found on page 5 of Cafardo's article) include the Tampa Bay Rays' plan for a DH upgrade, as well as some notes on Derek Lowe and Manny Ramirez.
Alex Walsh can be reached at email@example.com.
6:13pm: Yahoo's Gordon Edes says the Tigers made overtures to Wood, while the Red Sox like the idea of signing him as a setup man.
4:36pm: Geoff Baker says Tigers prospect Jeff Larish has attracted interest from the Mariners in the past.
On the Kerry Wood topic, a thought - now that the Tigers spent only a million bucks on their shortstop, maybe they have more cash to work with for their closer.
1:29pm: According to Jon Paul Morosi of the Detroit Free Press, the Tigers are targeting Kerry Wood and J.J. Putz for their closer vacancy. The Mets are also competing for both relievers.
Also, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick notes that the Tigers considered trading for Angels catcher Mike Napoli before they acquired Laird. The price for Napoli was too high. WEEI reports that the Tigers also inquired on Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden. The Tigers decided against Jason Varitek after he was offered arbitration, plus they liked Laird more anyway. According to WEEI's Lou Merloni, Varitek continues to seek a multiyear deal and a starting gig.
While not making any drastic reductions, the Rangers may be shedding payroll says Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. This could make available Gerald Laird, Hank Blalock, Kevin Millwood, and Vincente Padilla.
"'I wouldn't say we're in cost-cutting mode, but we're certainly conscious of all our expenditures,' [GM Jon] Daniels said. 'We're going to look at all the ways to improve our club. For the most part, we've been focused on trying to add players who fit with our long-term plan. Those are younger players.' ... With more than $51 million committed to seven players and the desire to keep payroll at about the same level as last year ($67 million), some trimming may be necessary."
Rangers GM Jon Daniels said its "reasonable" the Rangers would trade a catcher before Christmas, they have the depth to trade from the position and would prefer to hold onto their younger cheaper options of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden. Says Grant of a possible Laird trade,
"If the Rangers are willing to accept a mid-level minor league pitching prospect, a deal could come together quickly."
Blalock's $6.2MM option was exercised for 2009 but he's in a logjam at first base with Chris Davis. His willingness to move back to third actually increases his appeal to other clubs not looking for a first base/designated hitter type.
Millwood and Padilla are due $11MM and $12MM respectively and are entering contract years.
The Texas Rangers have excess catching, and the Tigers, Reds, and Red Sox are all looking to benefit from that surplus.
T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com has the Tigers and Reds at the top of the list of teams interested in the oldest of Texas' catchers, Gerald Laird. Laird is arbitration eligible, and therefore the most attractive option for a trade from the Rangers' perspective. Joshua Roenicke of the Reds and Zach Miner from the Tigers are mentioned as potential trade bait in exchange for Laird.
Sullivan says the Red Sox are more interested in one of Texas' younger catchers: either Jarrod Saltalamacchia, or Taylor Teagarden. Clay Buchholz would not be included in any deal, but Michael Bowden and Justin Masterson may be available.
In a separate article that followed from a conference call with Texas GM Jon Daniels, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News points out that the Rangers are not in cost cutting mode. A Laird trade might give that appearance. Another note from Grant's article - the Rangers aren't in on Koji Uehara or Kenshin Kawakami.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has the latest on the Red Sox.
- GM Theo Epstein says there's one deal he might be able to do before the winter meetings, possibly involving Coco Crisp or Julio Lugo. The free agent market for center fielders and shortstops is weak this year.
- Cafardo doesn't believe the Sox are in on C.C. Sabathia or A.J. Burnett, and he says they're unsure about Derek Lowe. However, Buster Olney says "there is an expectation within other quarters of the AL East that the Red Sox will get in on the Burnett bidding." Cafardo does see Boston adding a starter of some kind, possibly a Japanese free agent.
- Catchers on Epstein's radar to varying degrees: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden, Jeff Clement, Bengie Molina, and Ivan Rodriguez.
- Cafardo says the Red Sox are "more than intrigued" by Rocco Baldelli, who could fill their fourth outfielder role if and when Mark Kotsay leaves.
- Tony Massarotti discusses Mark Teixeira in-depth at his blog.
A few notes on the Red Sox...
- Scott Boras met with Theo Epstein about Jason Varitek. Boras is still seeking a deal similar to the one signed by Jorge Posada (four years/$52.4MM).
- Epstein continues to look at other catchers including Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Taylor Teagarden. Cafardo also notes that the Red Sox could go after a veteran through the trade market like Bengie Molina.
- Other teams have expressed interest in both Coco Crisp and Julio Lugo, but noted that Lugo would not be part of a deal to the White Sox. Cafardo says the Tigers could be a good match for Lugo if the Red Sox take Nate Robertson or Dontrelle Willis noting they could even eat some of Lugo's remaining contract.
- The Red Sox are likely out of the market for CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett.
Sean McAdam of the Boston Herald adds to the Lugo and Crisp rumors.
One executive at the general managers meetings talked to the Sox recently estimated that “five or six” teams have shown a willingness to discuss a deal for Crisp...The line being formed to bid for shortstop Julio Lugo, on the other hand, is not nearly as long - though it isn’t nonexistent.
McAdam lists several teams that could be interested in Crisp, including the White Sox, A's, Braves and Padres. However, McAdam notes that the Cubs are not interested. He also lists some clubs that could have a need for a player like Lugo, including the Cardinals, Twins, Indians, Tigers, O's and Giants. McAdam sees the White Sox as the best fit, but notes that they will seek more than Lugo in return for Javier Vazquez or Nick Swisher.