July 24, 2011

Rangers waiting, watching for right trade as deadline nears

Texas's primary need is a right-handed relief pitcher.

ARLINGTON -- The phone lines are open, and have been for a while, as the Texas Rangers look to upgrade their roster before the non-waiver trade deadline arrives Sunday afternoon.

A right-handed reliever is the primary target. No starter is reasonably available whom the Rangers believe is better than any of the five currently in their rotation. A bat at this point is seen purely as a luxury item.

General manager Jon Daniels and his staff know that it's only Monday. Prices too high today are likely to come down by the weekend, especially for players who will be free agents after the season.

The consensus opinion is that the Rangers' farm system is more stocked today than it has been at any other time the past five years. Prospects are available for any deal.

Ownership hasn't given Daniels a blank check, but Bob Simpson, Ray Davis and Co. have shown a willingness to add to the budget for the right deal.

None of that, though, means that a trade will be found. The Rangers aren't yet close to completing a deal, and they have accepted that the annual deadline might pass without anything getting done.

"Right now, there's nothing that we're sitting on, deciding if we should do it or not," Daniels said. "There's nothing close."

Depending on the newspaper, website or Twitter feed, the Rangers were linked to Heath Bell, Ubaldo Jimenez and Carlos Beltran on Sunday morning. Bell is the most realistic of that group.

Bell is San Diego's closer but willing to pitch the eighth inning for a contender. He would move into a setup role for Neftali Feliz, allowing the Rangers to shorten a starter's game to seven innings, and could close on days when Feliz isn't available.

Though an All-Star, Bell probably won't cost the Rangers as much in terms of prospects because he is a free agent next year. His Padres teammate, Mike Adams, has also been scouted by the Rangers but can't become a free agent until after next season.

That makes his price go up. Florida closer Leo Nunez is also under club control for one more season, but the Marlins' farm system is barren to the point that they would take fewer prospects and ones who don't rate as the Rangers' best.

Top prospects Martin Perez and Jurickson Profar are coveted by all teams but are as close to untouchable as players can be.

Some teams have inquired about Leonys Martin, the Cuban defector who signed a big league contract in May. Considering the circumstances, though, most teams understand he's all but untouchable, too.

Then, there are Chris Davis, David Murphy and Julio Borbon, who can be traded despite being on the disabled list at Triple A Round Rock. All three, say the Rangers, can be everyday big leaguers, but all three are blocked from meaningful playing time.

Clubs are inquiring about what's available when the Rangers call about a trade. They have less than a week to sort things out before the deadline arrives Sunday afternoon.

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

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