Winter Meetings end, but Texas busy
Rangers come up short on Jones, have other plans in works
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In the end, the Rangers did make a run at free-agent outfielder Andruw Jones, right before he agreed to a two-year, $36 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.The Rangers met with agent Scott Boras on Wednesday night and expressed a willingness to do a short-term deal with the 10-time Gold Glove Award-winning center fielder. But Boras wanted a longer deal if Jones was going to switch from the Atlanta Braves to the American League, and the Rangers weren't willing to do that. "On a short-term deal, he wasn't willing to go the American League," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "He didn't want to change leagues and have that adjustment period." Jones instead is going to the Dodgers, a move that may have the potential to open up some other options for the Rangers. Free-agent center fielder Aaron Rowand is one. Andre Ethier is another. The Rangers look at both and more as they try to upgrade the outfield. "The outfield is on the front burner," Daniels said. Rowand remains unsigned and the Dodgers were one of the teams that were interested before signing Jones. There is still a question if Rowand can get a five-year, $75 million deal that he reportedly was looking for going into the winter and the Rangers aren't willing to do that, either. But they have told his agent Craig Landis that they could be willing to do a shorter-term deal for Rowand. The Phillies and the White Sox are also still in the hunt. Rowand is the top center fielder left on the free agent market but Mike Cameron and Corey Patterson remain available as well. The Rangers have varying degrees of interest in both. The Rangers talked to Boras about Patterson, but are unwilling to go more than one year on him. They have told Cameron's agent, Mike Nicotera, that they might be willing to do a two-year deal. Ethier is a right fielder for the Dodgers, who now have an excess of outfielders after signing Jones. The Rangers like Ethier and tried to get him in a deal for Mark Teixeira last July. The Dodgers, who are looking for pitching, would rather deal Juan Pierre, but he still has four years left on a five-year, $44 million contract and the Rangers aren't touching that.
The Dodgers and Rangers are expected to have some communication but there isn't much optimism right now for a deal. The Dodgers will likely try to include either Ethier or Matt Kemp in a deal for pitching, possibly in pursuit of Baltimore's Erik Bedard.The Rangers also had interest in Milton Bradley, but word is he is expected to return to the Padres. There was some talk about the Reds and outfielder Josh Hamilton, but nothing serious ever materialized. There was no movement at the Winter Meetings with Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome. His agent, Joe Urbon, also represents pitcher Hiroki Kuroda and is trying to get him signed before addressing Fukudome's situation. On the pitching front, the Rangers also continue to talk with agent Larry Reynolds about LaTroy Hawkins and are hoping to know in the next couple of days if they can sign him. The Rangers have offered one year and an option while Hawkins is looking for two years. Eric Gagne is also looking for a multi-year deal. The Rangers talked with Boras about him as well, but have not yet made an offer. The two sides are expected to talk again in the next day or two after Gagne and Boras decided whether or not to accept the Red Sox's offer of arbitration. The deadline is Friday. The Rangers didn't come away from the Winter Meetings empty-handed. They did acquire right-handed-hitting first baseman Chris Shelton from the Detroit Tigers for outfielder Freddy Guzman. Shelton, 27, is a candidate to platoon at first base, either for Frank Catalanotto or somebody acquired from outside the organization. "He's young and he can still hit," Daniels said. "There's a potential for him to win the job." The Rangers have had trade talks with the Mariners about Ben Broussard and have talked with free agents Sean Casey and Mike Lamb. Nothing seems to be close there. The Winter Meetings are over, but pitchers and catchers aren't due for another two months. Deals done: The Rangers acquired Shelton from the Tigers for Guzman. Shelton is a right-handed-hitting first baseman who could be somebody's platoon partner. Rule 5 Draft: The Rangers had a full 40-man roster and couldn't take anybody. They did not lose anybody either. Goals accomplished: The Rangers could be close to getting something done with Hawkins and should know in the next day or two. Shelton gives them an option at first base. Unfinished business: Center field remains a question mark. Actually the entire outfield is unsettled, other than Marlon Byrd -- who will be out there someplace -- and the Rangers will give David Murphy a chance. GM's Bottom line: "Things are starting to pick up. I'm hoping in the next two to four days to get closure on a couple of things we talked about here." -- Daniels
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.