Rangers targeted as trade partner

Rangers targeted as trade partner

OAKLAND -- Less than a week remains before the July 31 Trade Deadline, and the Rangers are having discussions on a number of fronts and a number of different players.

General manager Jon Daniels isn't sure if the Rangers will make a deal, but it won't be for the lack of phone calls or the lack of interest in their players from other teams. The Rangers' main focus is trying to reinforce their pitching staff.

"If there is a way to significantly upgrade the pitching staff, we would do it," Daniels said by phone from Arlington on Friday. "I don't think it's realistic at this point. That improvement will most likely have to come from within. But things have a way of changing before the deadline. It just depends on the market."

Daniels declined to discuss specifics about his discussions but much of the intrigue surrounds third baseman Hank Blalock and catcher Gerald Laird.

Major League sources said there has been "medium interest" in Blalock, mostly from the Dodgers, Twins and Giants. All three teams are looking for a third baseman, and Blalock has shown since coming off the disabled list that he can still handle the position defensively.

Sources also said clubs have been calling the Rangers incessantly about their catching and there has been interest in all four of their catchers: Laird, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden and Max Ramirez. Laird is on the disabled list and is expected to be activated on Saturday.

The Yankees are looking for a catcher and have asked about both Laird and Saltalamacchia. The Rangers have their eyes on some of the Yankees young pitchers in the Minors, including right-hander Daniel McCutchen. The Reds also covet Laird, but aren't willing to give up their top young Minor League pitchers. At least 20 teams have asked about at least one of the four Rangers catchers.

The Rangers are also getting calls about outfielder Milton Bradley, most notably the Cubs, Diamondbacks, Rays and Tigers. But the Rangers are not trying to shop Bradley, even though he can be a free agent after the season.

The Rangers are willing to listen about any player, but they aren't actively pursuing a trade the way they did with Mark Teixeira, Kenny Lofton and Eric Gagne last season.

"There's no firesale going on around here," Daniels said. "Clubs have inquired about players on our big league team, and we're open to anything that would improve our situation. Last year we identified some core players we were willing to move for young players. It's not like that this year."

The Rangers would have to be overwhelmed by an offer for Bradley. The Rangers would like to re-sign him for next season, but are also willing to settle for Draft picks as compensation if he signs elsewhere.

"There are a lot of conversations going on," Daniels said. "There are a ton of rumors and a lot of ideas thrown out there, but most of them don't have staying power."

The Rangers have had teams ask about pitchers Vicente Padilla, Eddie Guardado and Jamey Wright, but don't want to give up pitching unless they get it in return.

Outfielders Marlon Byrd and Frank Catalanotto have drawn some interest, but those talks probably won't heat up until clubs explore other options. The Brewers had interest in Catalanotto before acquiring Ray Durham earlier this week. The Mets are looking for a right-handed-hitting outfielder, and have mulled both Byrd and Triple-A outfielder Nelson Cruz.

The Rangers have had other teams ask about Cruz, but nobody has been willing to offer a serviceable Major League pitcher for him.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.