July 30, 2012

No pitching deals so far, but Rangers land catcher Soto

Arms are hard to come by, but Texas deals for catcher Geovany Soto.

ARLINGTON -- The team rumored to be in on seemingly every starting pitcher the past two weeks could end up adding nobody to its rotation as this afternoon's non-waiver trade deadline hits.

The Texas Rangers were facing that possibility Monday night after running into a dead end with Philadelphia over the money remaining on Cliff Lee's contract and failing to find the right deal for any other available pitchers.

General manager Jon Daniels has added three pitchers over the past two Julys, but he wasn't close to acquiring any this July as of the first pitch of the opener of a key series against Los Angeles.

They found a catcher after the game, as a baseball source confirmed they have acquired Geovany Soto and cash from the Chicago Cubs for minor league pitcher Jake Brigham.

Soto will back up Mike Napoli, the source said, and Yorvit Torrealba will likely be designated for assignment.

But trade partners with pitchers available either want too much in return, or the Rangers believe those remaining wouldn't be good fits on the roster. Any improvement for the stretch run might have to come from within.

"There are more guys who you can reasonably expect to pick it up in the second half than to decline," Daniels said. "And that's the thing that will make the biggest impact for us: getting a few guys back off the DL, and breaking out of the slump we've been in offensively."

The Soto trade will not become official until MLB approves the cash that is changing hands. Soto is seen as a defensive upgrade over Napoli and Torrealba, who have struggled to throw out base stealers this season and also have let too many pitches get to the backstop.

Soto, the National League Rookie of the Year in 2008, is hitting only .195 this season but has thrown out 14 attempted base stealers. He was on the disabled list in May after having surgery on his left knee.

The Rangers' pessimism on the pitching front comes with a caveat. The Rangers didn't believe they would be players in December for right-hander Yu Darvish.

A trade for Lee or any other pitcher requires finding common ground with another team.

There wasn't any with the Phillies. Lee is guaranteed roughly $95 million over the remaining two months of this season and the next three. The Rangers aren't willing to acquire that contract for a pitcher they offered less to two years ago.

The Rangers haven't made much progress with Boston on right-hander Josh Beckett. While that avenue hasn't been completely closed, some in baseball have questioned how serious the Red Sox were when they phoned the Rangers last week.

If no starter can be found by this afternoon, the Rangers could go with a rotation of Matt Harrison, Darvish, Derek Holland, Roy Oswalt and either Scott Feldman or Alexi Ogando.

A baseball source said that the Rangers have not contacted Colorado about righty Rafael Betancourt.

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