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Texas Rangers Offseason Tracker: Hottest Trade Rumors, Free-Agency News

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistOctober 31, 2013

Texas Rangers Offseason Tracker: Hottest Trade Rumors, Free-Agency News

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    A disappointing 2013 campaign finds the Texas Rangers in an unenviable situation heading into the offseason.

    While the roster is talented, its core is expensive, and improvements are needed if the Rangers are to return to their past glory as AL West champions and become legitimate World Series contenders once again.

    Will general manager Jon Daniels look to cash in some of the organization's young prospects for veterans who can step in and help immediately, or will the Rangers look to the free-agent market to bolster what they already have with more high-priced talent?

    If the team does go the free-agency route, will Daniels look to keep some of his own high-profile free agents, such as Nelson Cruz, Matt Garza and A.J. Pierzynski?

    How is a fan supposed to keep up with it all?

    All winter long, we'll be bringing you the most up-to-the-minute rumblings about the Rangers along with analysis and everything else that comes with it. While the post date will always show as October 31, this will be constantly updated. Simply click to the next slide to see the latest rumors and rumblings about the Rangers as they put together their roster for the 2014 season.

Texas' Free Agents and Done Deals

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    All the juicy rumors and analysis follow, but consider this your one-stop shop for all the comings and goings in Arlington this winter, including the status of the team's own free agents.

     

    Rangers Free Agents

    DH Lance Berkman (Oct. 31: $12 million option declined)

    OF Nelson Cruz

    RHP Matt Garza

    RHP Colby Lewis (Nov.23: Re-signed)

    C A.J. Pierzynski (Dec. 3: Signed a one-year, $8.25 million deal with Boston)

    OF David Murphy (Nov. 19: Agreed to a two-year, $12 million deal with Cleveland)

    RHP Joe Nathan (Nov. 13: $9 million option declined; Dec. 3: Signed two-year deal with Detroit)

    C Geovany Soto (re-signed on Nov. 5)

     

    Done Deals

    Nov. 5: Re-signed C Geovany Soto to a one-year, $3 million deal 

    Nov. 14: Re-signed IF Adam Rosales to a one-year, $750,000 deal

    Nov. 20: Claimed RHP Shawn Tolleson off waivers from the Dodgers

    Nov. 20: Acquired 1B Prince Fielder and $30 million from the Tigers for 2B Ian Kinsler (Analysis)

    Nov. 23: Re-signed RHP Colby Lewis  to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training

    Nov. 27: Claimed OF Rafael Ortega off waivers from Colorado

    Dec. 3: Acquired OF Michael Choice and 2B Chris Bostick from the A's for OF Craig Gentry and RHP Josh Lindbloom

    Dec. 5: Signed RHP Jose Contreras to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training

    Dec. 6: Signed C J.P. Arencibia to a one-year, $1.8 million deal

    Dec. 12: Signed 1B/3B Kevin Kouzmanoff to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training

    Dec. 12: Signed IF/OF Brent Lillibridge to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training

    Dec. 12: Signed RHP Doug Mathis to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training

    Dec. 19: Signed RHP Daniel McCutchen to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training

    Dec. 21: Signed OF Shin-Soo Choo to a seven-year, $130 million deal, physical pending (Analysis)

    Dec. 30: Acquired RHP Miles Mikolas from the Pirates for 1B Chris McGuiness

Masahiro Tanaka: Japanese Phenom Posted

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    Update: Friday, Dec. 27 at 5:28 p.m. ET

    While you can never count the Rangers out of anything, GM Jon Daniels told ESPN's Jim Bowden, on his Sirius/XM radio show, that Texas was looking for back-of-the-rotation help, not a front-line starter.

    Again, you can never say never, but it certainly appears that, on the surface, the Rangers won't be opening their checkbooks to sign Tanaka.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Thursday, Dec. 26 at 8:29 a.m. ET

    Tanaka's posting period begins today, giving teams until 5:00 p.m. ET on Jan. 24 to sign the free agent, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.

    If he does not reach an agreement with a MLB team by then, he'll return to Japan for another season.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Tuesday, Dec. 24 at 10:49 p.m. ET

    The Golden Eagles will grant Tanaka's wish to pitch in the major leagues and post the 25-year-old hurler, with the official announcement set to come on Christmas, according to Patrick Newman from NPB Tracker.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Tuesday, Dec. 24 at 8:57 p.m. ET

    It looks as if Rakuten is going to give MLB the biggest gift of all this Christmas, according to NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman:

    An official announcement is expected within the next 24-to-48 hours. While it remains unlikely that the Rangers will be in the thick of the bidding for his services, you can never totally dismiss the possibility until the team says they're out of the running.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Tuesday, Dec. 24 at 6:09 p.m. ET

    Rakuten has made a decision on whether or not to post Tanaka and an announcement should be made in the next day or two, according to a report from Yahoo! Sports Japan, via NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Saturday, Dec. 21 at 1:00 p.m. ET

    The Rangers signing of Shin-Soo Choo all but takes them out of the running for Tanaka, if he's posted.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Thursday, Dec. 19 at 10:05 a.m. ET

    CBS Sports' Jon Heyman says that the Golden Eagles are upset over the $20 million cap on posting fees, something that became evident when they voted against the new posting agreement, only to be overruled by the other NPB teams.

    Former major league pitcher C.J. Nitkowski, who spent part of his career playing in Asia, cites a solid source as saying that Rakuten's president will make an official announcement on Tanaka's status in "four-to-five days."

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Thursday, Dec. 19 at 8:07 a.m. ET

    Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal indicates that multiple reports out of Japan indicate that Tanaka will not be posted.

    If accurate, this could push the Rangers to get back into the mix for Shin-Soo Choo, seeing how the team has room to make one more "significant expenditure" this winter as previously reported.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Wednesday, Dec. 18 at 6:30 a.m. ET

    The Rangers are expected to make a run at signing Tanaka—if he's posted—according to a report from Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

    Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan tweets that the Rangers are doing "significant background work" on the 25-year-old, noting that the team has room for one more "significant expenditure" this winter.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 3:42 p.m. ET

    CBS Sports' Jon Heyman spoke with a GM that has no plans on bidding for Tanaka's services (if he's posted), who said that he has no doubts that the Japanese phenom will command a deal exceeding $100 million.

    That poses two significant questions as it pertains to the Rangers potential pursuit of Tanaka: First, can the team afford to shell out another mega deal like that? More importantly, would they risk angering the ace of their staff, Yu Darvish, by handing Tanaka a more lucrative deal than what they gave him?

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Monday, Dec. 16 at 4:30 p.m. ET

    The first step towards Masahiro Tanaka being posted has been taken, as MLB and NPB have announced a new three-year posting agreement, via ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.

    Under the terms of the new agreement, the posting fee cannot exceed $20 million, and every team that submits the highest posting bid will have an opportunity to negotiate with the posted player.

    Whether Tanaka will actually be posted—and just how hard the Rangers will push to sign him if he is made available—is another thing altogether.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 6:03 p.m. ET

    Mark Feinsand from the New York Daily News was among the reporters that Rakuten Golden Eagles team president Yozo Tachibana addressed at the Winter Meetings in Orlando.

    Ichibana said that the team had made no decision about whether it would post Tanaka, adding that he needed to speak with the pitcher "face-to-face" next week.

    So, it'll be at least another few days before we know whether the Rangers are going to have a chance to potentially add another dynamic, Japanese arm to the rotation.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Sunday, Dec. 8 at 5:56 p.m. ET

    Baseball America's Ben Badler reports that Masahiro Tanaka's MLB future may rest in the Japanese phenom's hands.

    In comments to the Japanese Media, Rakuten's team president, Yozo Tachibana said that if Tanaka wants to be posted so that he can begin his MLB career, the team will likely respect his wishes—but not before putting on a full-court press to try and convince him to stay.

    If Tanaka is, in fact, posted, expect the Rangers to make a strong push to add Tanaka, pointing to the chance to pitch alongside Yu Darvish—and Darvish's success with the Rangers thus far—as major selling points for the youngster.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Thursday, Dec. 5 at 6:03 p.m. ET

    There's still a chance that Masahiro Tanaka will be posted, according to Newsday's David Lennon.

    Rakuten's president spoke to the media in Japan on Thursday and said that the team will have internal discussions to see if it makes sense to post Tanaka.

    The team's owner has already gone on record saying that he is against the proposed new posting agreement, and club executives may have a hard time convincing him to give up his team's biggest star.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 8:10 p.m. ET

    Peter Gammons reports that Tanaka's team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, is not only vehemently opposed to the proposed changes to the posting system, but that the team is leaning towards not posting Tanaka at all.

    While the Rangers were never considered to be front-runners to sign the Japanese phenom, taking him off of the board gives the team one less option on the free agent market in its efforts to bolster the starting rotation.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Thursday, Nov. 14 at 6:11 p.m. ET

    Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News says that a source is reporting that negotiations over the posting process are not in danger of falling apart as previously reported.

    Once an agreement is reached, Tanaka will be posted. Whether the Rangers get involved, however, remains to be seen. Being able to play alongside Yu Darvish would certainly make the transition from Japan to the United States significantly easier for Tanaka.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Thursday, Nov. 14 at 1:00 p.m. ET

    While the Rangers weren't expected to be players in the bidding to sign Tanaka, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports that MLB owners have "serious reservations" about the proposed new posting process and that Tanaka may not be eligible to sign with a MLB club this year.

    If that's the case, it's possible that the Rangers could jump back into the fray if and when Tanaka finally goes through the posting process, especially if it doesn't come until after the 2014 season.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 8:12 p.m. ET

    Don't expect the Rangers to be in on Tanaka, as GM Jon Daniels told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Jeff Wilson that signing a big-ticket starting pitcher in free agency isn't in the team's plans: “We’re not right now looking to give out a big multiyear deal for a starter."

    If reinforcements for the rotation are going to be obtained, it appears as if it will be through a trade.

    --End of Update--

     

    Japan's next big import to MLB is expected to be 24-year-old right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who finished the 2013 season for the Rakuten Golden Eagles with a 24-0 record, 1.27 ERA and 0.94 WHIP over 212 innings of work, striking out 183 batters.

    But according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, the Rangers won't do much more than submit a "posting bid" for the talented starter, as the club doesn't see him as the next coming of Yu Darvish.

Dec. 21: Signed OF Shin-Soo Choo

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    Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

    Age: 31

    Bats: L

    2013 Stats: .285/.423/.462, 21 HR, 54 RBI, 20-for-31 SB

    Contract Status: Seven years, $130 million

     

    The Rangers finally got the man they wanted all along this winter, signing Shin-Soo Choo to serve as the table-setter for a lineup that has faded down the stretch in each of the past three seasons.

    Yes, he is a mediocre fielder at best—though his issues with the glove will be minimized in a corner spot—but this move is all about offense. 

    Choo's left-handed bat not only brings some balance to what is a predominantly right-handed lineup, but his ability to get on base consistently will give the heart of the Rangers lineup.

    Speaking of the lineup, take a look at what skipper Ron Washington figures to have at his disposal in 2014:

    1. Choo (LF)
    2. Andrus (SS)
    3. Fielder (1B)
    4. Beltre (3B)
    5. Rios (RF)
    6. Moreland (1B)
    7. Profar (2B)
    8. Soto/Arencibia (C)
    9. Martin (CF)

    That's a pretty formidable attack right there, one that should find the Rangers in far better position to avoid those late-season swoons, especially if Jurickson Profar's bat wakes up as many expect it will given regular playing time.

    It's true that Choo struggles against left-handed pitching, struggles that have gotten worse over the past few seasons:

    YearBA vs. LHP OBP vs. LHP OPS vs. LHP
    2010.264.338.670
    2011.269.336.688
    2012.199.318.605
    2013.215.347.612
    Career.243.340.680

    For comparison's sake, Choo is a lifetime .309 hitter against right-handed pitching, with a .409 on-base percentage and a .932 OPS.

    That said, his ability to draw walks and get on base consistently will only make the Rangers offense far more dangerous than it has been in years—and his arrival, along with that of Prince Fielder's, makes Texas the favorites in the AL West once again.

Rusney Castillo: Is Signing Cuban Defector a Possibility?

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    Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images

    Wednesday, Dec. 18 at 10:30 a.m. ET

    Rusney Castillo, the latest Cuban sensation, has defected from his homeland and has his eyes set on playing in the major leagues, according to Baseball America's Ben Badler.

    Castillo, 26, has spent the past five seasons playing for Ciego De Avila in Serie Nacional, the top league in Cuba. As such, he is not subject to the international bonus pool and will, eventually, be free to sign with any team.

    When he'll be able to sign, however, is another story. Castillo first has to establish residency in another country, have MLB declare him a free agent and have the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) clear him, a process that could take weeks—or months.

    Badler provides a quick scouting report:

    Castillo is short but has a strong, athletic frame at 5-foot-9, 185 pounds. His best tool is his speed, as he’s an above-average runner and one of the better base stealers in Cuba. More of a doubles hitter than a big home run threat, Castillo puts a charge into the ball with a line-drive right-handed swing, though he can get long to the ball at times and some scouts think he’s prone to chasing pitches off the plate.

    Primarily a center fielder in Cuba, Castillo has also played some second and third base, so his versatility could be a draw for some teams. He’s an aggressive, high-energy player, though some teams see him as a fourth outfielder.

    It's all speculation at this point, but he could be an attractive option for the Rangers, who are no strangers to signing Cuban defectors (Leonys Martin), serving as either competition for Martin in center field, an option in left field or as a high-energy fourth outfielder and pinch runner off of the bench. 

David Price: Rangers Pessimistic About Chances for a Deal

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Update: Wednesday, Dec. 18 at 6:28 a.m. ET

    Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal says that the Rangers don't appear to be seriously involved with trade discussions for Tampa Bay ace David Price and don't seem to mind holding their trade chips for a future deal.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 11:34 p.m. ET

    Rangers GM Jon Daniels doesn't believe that a deal for David Price is likely, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Monday, Dec. 9 at 4:05 p.m. ET

    CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweets that the Rangers, along with the Dodgers and Mariners, are at this point the three most serious suitors for David Price.

    All three teams have significant interest in acquiring him, the players to pull off a deal, and the finances to potentially work out a long-term extension with the former Cy Young Award winner.

    --End of Update--

     

    Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 8:57 p.m. ET

    Sources tell Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan no fewer than seven teams—the AngelsBlue Jays, DiamondbacksDodgersMarinersPirates and Rangersnot only have interest in Price, but believe that they have what it takes to put together a package attractive enough to convince Rays GM Andrew Friedman to pull the trigger on a deal.

    The market for David Price is expected to heat up later this week as baseball gears up for the Winter Meetings that begin on Monday in Orlando.

    While no names have been bandied about at this point, it's fair to assume that the Rays would demand that Jurickson Profar be the centerpiece of any potential deal involving Price. Mitch Moreland could also be attractive to Tampa Bay, as the Rays are currently without a first baseman.

     

     

Michael Young: Is a Reunion in the Works with Veteran Free Agent?

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Thursday, Dec. 12 at 2:06 p.m. ET

    MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez says not to discount the possibility of a reunion between the Rangers and Michael Young "under the right circumstances/situation for both parties."

    Young split the 2013 season with the Phillies and Dodgers, hitting a combined .279 with eight home runs, 46 RBI and a .730 OPS. Noted for his versatility and tremendous clubhouse presence, Young, a seven-time All-Star, owns a career .301/.347.444 slash line over 13 years with the Rangers.

    Texas' all-time leader in multiple offensive categories, including hits (2,229), runs (1,084) and doubles (414), Young could serve as a valuable mentor for Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar while serving as a veteran leader within the clubhouse.

Sergio Santos: Rangers Nearly Acquired Reliever from Toronto

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    Tim Umphrey/Getty Images

    Monday, Dec. 9 at 5:54 p.m. ET

    Sources tell Fox Sports's Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal that the Rangers had agreed to a three-team trade a few weeks ago that would have bought Sergio Santos to Texas from Toronto, but the deal fell apart when another player failed a physical.

    It is not known who the Rangers would have traded away, whether that was the player who failed his physical, and who the third team involved was.

    As Morosi notes, what we can take away from this failed transaction is that the Rangers are still looking to augment their bullpen despite having Neftali Feliz, Tanner Scheppers and Joakim Soria in the mix.

Nelson Cruz: Free Agent, Declined Qualifying Offer

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Update: Monday, Dec. 9 at 5:08 p.m. ET

    ESPN's Buster Olney says that Cruz is seeking a three-year deal, while the Rangers have been willing to offer a two-year pact with an option for a third year.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Monday, Dec. 9 at 4:25 p.m. ET

    The Rangers have met with Cruz's representatives and could meet again tonight, according to ESPN's Buster Olney, who says that the Rangers want Cruz back.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Monday, Dec. 9 at 4:03 p.m. ET

    The Rangers haven't given up on possibly re-signing Nelson Cruz, according to Ken Rosenthal from Fox Sports, who says that Texas, Seattle and Baltimore all remain in the hunt to sign him. The Orioles are known to have met with his agent; the same can't be said for the Mariners or Rangers at this point.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Monday, Nov. 11 at 10:13 a.m. ET

    Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the Rangers have been officially informed by Cruz's agent that the slugger is declining the team's qualifying offer and testing the free agent market.

    This news doesn't come as surprise to anyone, but it doesn't mean that Cruz won't return to the Rangers. As mentioned last week, there remains interest on both sides to work out a new deal.

    Should he sign with another team, Texas would receive draft pick compensation.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Friday, Nov. 8 at 4:53 p.m. ET

    The Rangers have been in touch with Cruz's agent, Adam Katz, and have interest in bringing him back, but GM Jon Daniels told MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan that the team fully expects Cruz to decline the qualifying offer that they extended to him earlier this week.

    --End of Update--

     

    Texas has extended a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer to outfielder Nelson Cruz, according to the Dallas Morning News' Evan Grant.

    Cruz, 33, hit .266 with 27 home runs and 76 RBI for the Rangers during the regular season, solid numbers, especially when you consider that he was suspended for 50 games as part of MLB's investigation into the Biogenesis Anti-Aging Clinic in Miami.

    It's hard to imagine that Cruz won't accept the offer, try and prove that he's clean and productive and parlay a solid 2014 campaign into one last big, multi-year deal as a free agent following the season.

     

     

Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar: Still Trade Candidates?

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Monday, Dec. 9 at 12:15 p.m. ET

    The Rangers are willing to trade Elvis Andrus, but only in exchange for a "big return," according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

    Were the team to deal its starting shortstop, they would shift Jurickson Profar over from second base and install the team's top prospect, Rougned Odor, as the starting second baseman.

    But, as Rosenthal notes, the team has not discussed Andrus with any other clubs since the Prince Fielder trade—and a move involving the two-time All-Star remains unlikely at this point.

    --End of Update--

     

    Monday, Nov. 25 at 10:03 a.m. ET

    GM Jon Daniels told MLB Network Radio that he has no intention of breaking up the team's infield: 

    “My full expectation is our infield is gonna be Beltre, Andrus, Profar & Fielder...we’re not looking to trade any of those guys.”

    While things can always change and you can never say never, it certainly seems like rumors about Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar possibly being traded are just that—rumors.

    --End of Update--

     

    Thursday, Nov. 21 at 8:57 a.m. ET

    Even with Ian Kinsler being traded to Detroit, both Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar are still candidates to be shipped out of Texas "in the right deal", Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets.

    It's not all that surprising when you consider that the team has a pair of big-time infield prospects working their way through the farm system in SS Luis Sardinas and 2B Rougned Odor. While neither is expected to make an impact at the major league level in 2014, they could both be factors as early as 2015.

     

     

Kurt Suzuki: Free Agent on Texas' Radar

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 10:34 a.m. ET

    The Rangers have targeted seven-year veteran Kurt Suzuki to split catching duties with Geovany Soto in 2014, according to a report from MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.

    Known as an excellent defensive catcher, the 30-year-old Suzuki split the 2013 season between Washington and Oakland, hitting a combined .232 with five home runs and 32 RBI, though he hit .303 with two home runs and seven RBI over 35 plate appearances for the A's late in the season.

    A career .253 hitter who offers some power, landing Suzuki on a short-term deal would be the ideal scenario for the Rangers, with top catching prospect Jorge Alfaro still at least a year or two away from making an impact in the major leagues.

Mitch Moreland: Trade Candidate, Rangers Plan on Keeping Him Around

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Update: Tuesday, Nov. 26 at 1:02 p.m. ET

    Even after trading for Prince Fielder to be the team's everyday first baseman, the Rangers plan on holding onto Mitch Moreland, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

    The team envisions using him at first base, in the outfield and as a designated hitter against right-handed pitching, though Rosenthal notes that this could all change, depending on what other moves the team makes.

    --End of Update--

     

    Rangers GM Jon Daniels told MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan that he has received multiple calls from teams about the availability of first baseman Mitch Moreland, who Daniels said teams view as a "buy low" candidate.

    But the Fort-Worth Star Telegram's Jeff Wilson notes that Daniels doesn't believe that Moreland's power is something that the Rangers can just "give up on" at this point, which leads you to believe that unless the team was blown away by an offer for the 28-year-old, Moreland won't be going anywhere.

Nov. 20: 1B Prince Fielder Acquired from Detroit

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Age: 29

    Bats: L

    2013 Stats: .279/.362/.457, 25 HR, 106 RBI

    Contract Status: Seven years, $168 million remaining

     

    Prince Fielder gives the Rangers the long-term answer at  first base that they've been looking for since trading Mark Teixeira to the Braves at the 2007 trade deadline.

    While his defense is mediocre at best, Fielder, despite his girth, is one of the more dependable players around, having played in 162 games for three consecutive seasons and in four of the past five.

    But the Rangers didn't acquire Fielder for his glove—it's his bat that they were after. A six-time All-Star, he can not only replace some of the production that the team has lost over the past two seasons with the departure of Josh Hamilton last winter and the likelihood of Nelson Cruz signing elsewhere this winter, but his left-handed bat brings some balance to what was a very right-handed lineup.

    More importantly, the Rangers cleared the logjam that they had in the middle of their infield, with three players—Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar—and only two spots to play them at. While Profar's best position may be shortstop, he'll replace Kinsler at second base, making the Rangers incredibly athletic up the middle.

    Whether the Rangers can afford to be players on the free agent market now, however, remains to be seen. It was clear that unloading payroll, either Kinsler or Andrus, was the key to their offseason plans.

    According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, taking back Fielder's huge deal won't stop the team from pursuing another big bat, leaving the door open for the Rangers to sign the likes of Brian McCann or Carlos Beltran, two of the bigger free agents available that the team has been linked to.

Matt Kemp: Rangers Talked to Dodgers About Former All-Star

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    Norm Hall/Getty Images

    Update: Monday, Nov. 18 at 1:03 p.m. ET

    While a swap of Kemp for Ian Kinsler would seem to make sense for both teams, multiple sources tell Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi that neither team sees a good fit in such a deal.

    --End of Update--

     

    Friday, Nov. 15 at 12:05 a.m. ET

    Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Rangers and Dodgers talked about a number of different trade scenarios at the GM meetings in Orlando, including one that included outfielder Matt Kemp.

    But the Rangers had reservations, not only about the six years and $128 million that remains on the 29-year-old's deal, but about his health as well. After playing in at least 155 games a season from 2008 through 2011, injuries have limited Kemp to a total of 179 games over the past two years.

    Had the Rangers not had concers about Kemp's health and the talks gotten past the exploratory phase, it's fair to speculate that Elvis Andrus—who the Dodgers have interest in and is due nearly $140 million through the 2023 season—may have been part of a potential trade. 

Free Agent Market: All the Big Bats Are Under Consideration

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Sunday, Nov. 17 at 2:00 p.m. ET

    In an interview with Sirius/XM's Jim Bowden, Rangers manager Ron Washington said that Texas is considering all of the big bats available on the free agent market, including CF Jacoby Ellsbury and 2B Robinson Cano.

    In order to sign one or more of those bats, the team would likely need to move salary, either 2B Ian Kinsler or SS Elvis Andrus, both of whom have been the subject of trade speculation over the past few weeks.

    Of the two stars that Washington named, Cano would certainly be the most intriguing addition for the Rangers, and he has always performed well at the Ballpark in Arlington, boasting a career .322/.353/.492 slash line with 14 extra-base hits (three home runs) and 16 RBI over 130 career at-bats.

Lance Berkman: Free Agent's Option Declined

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    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    As Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News notes on Twitter, it comes as no surprise to anyone that the Rangers have declined the $12 million option that the team held on Lance Berkman for the 2014 season, choosing instead to pay him a $1 million buyout.

    Berkman, 37, suffered through an injury-plagued 2013 with Texas, hitting .242 with six home runs and 34 RBI in just under 300 plate appearances. It's highly likely that we've seen the last of Berkman as an active player, as no team is going to offer him anything other than a minor league or incentive-laden deal for 2014.

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