Rangers not planning to act at Meetings

Rangers not planning to act at Meetings

ARLINGTON -- In a slow-moving offseason, the Rangers will go to the Winter Meetings continuing their search for relief pitching, a utility infielder and a middle-of-the-order right-handed bat.

Bobby Abreu could be foremost on their minds.

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Abreu was one of the last free agents to sign last winter and ended up being a great bargain for the Angels. Abreu signed a one-year, $5 million deal on Feb. 12 and ended up hitting .293 with 96 runs scored, 15 home runs and 103 RBIs for an American League West championship team.

He has since re-signed with the Angels. The Rangers, being in a financially challenged position, will be looking for similar bargains this winter as they try to improve on a team that went 87-75 and finished second in the AL West in 2009.

They probably won't find those players at the Winter Meetings, which start Monday in Indianapolis.

The Rangers aren't going to be big players in the free-agent market. They are keeping in touch with the representatives of certain free agents they like -- Ben Sheets, Jermaine Dye -- but they aren't in a position to be aggressive. Instead, they will likely wait and do some last-minute shopping when prices drop to a palatable level.

"First and foremost, we really like our club," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "There are always areas to upgrade, and we'll look at those. But this is more about finding winning pieces to complement what we're trying to do. We're not looking to re-invent the wheel.

"There's no secret this is a different offseason for us, with the possibility of the sale of the club, but we're going to be as creative as we can be to address certain spots on the club."

Rangers owner Tom Hicks is considering proposals from four different potential buyers as well as investigating the possibility of putting together his own group to retain control of the team. That situation could be resolved before Spring Training and change the way the Rangers approach the offseason.

But until then the Rangers will have to be selective buyers.

"We're looking for value in whatever we do," Daniels said. "We're no different than any other club. It has to fit our team and fit our budget."

Sure the Rangers would be interested in Vladimir Guerrero as a potential right-handed designated hitter. But he made $15 million in 2009 at the end of a six-year $85 million contract. The Rangers aren't going to be involved with Guerrero unless his market value has seriously diminished. That same holds true with Mike Cameron, who could be an alternative in center if the Rangers don't re-sign Marlon Byrd.

The Rangers, after taking a shot with Sammy Sosa in 2007 and Andruw Jones in '09, may see what it takes to sign Gary Sheffield or Troy Glaus as a right-handed designated hitter. Both have limited experience playing first base, which could appeal to the Rangers in their desire to have a right-handed-hitting alternative to Chris Davis.

Miguel Tejada -- beyond Jason Bay and Matt Holliday -- appears to be the most potent right-handed bat available. But even if he's willing to switch off of shortstop and even if his market value is decreased after three straight seasons of an OPS (on-base plus slugging) below .800, he is still likely beyond the Rangers' price range unless he is still without a job in February.

By then, the Rangers may have their ownership situation settled. Until then, the Rangers may have to focus on lesser needs, including finding a utility infielder to replace Omar Vizquel.

Bobby Crosby could be a good fit since he is a right-handed hitter who has shown some power in the past and can play shortstop. Others who might interest the Rangers include Jamey Carroll and Mark Loretta.

The Rangers could also investigate the relief-pitching market, and one pitcher that intrigues them is J.J. Putz, a right-handed reliever who is coming off elbow surgery but has had success in the AL in the Mariners bullpen.

At some point, they'll start rounding up the usual non-roster Minor League invites. Remember, last season the Rangers did not sign a free agent to a Major League contract. That may be the situation again this year unless another Bobby Abreu can be found.

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