The more pressing development first: Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels has confirmed what ESPN.com's Peter Gammons alluded to in passing during his appearance on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike in the Morning" on Thursday, that being that free-agent right-hander Ben Sheets and his agent, Casey Close, met with Daniels, owner Tom Hicks and his sons, Tom Jr. and Alex, team president Nolan Ryan, manager Ron Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux over dinner in Arlington on Wednesday.
Daniels reportedly declined comment when queried whether the Rangers had yet tendered a formal offer to the 30-year-old Dallas native, flatly stating that the club's position with regard to Sheets has not changed, while Ryan submitted that "if everything [were to] come together, there'd be a possibility" of an offer. Considering the precise and calculated manner that this front office tends to conduct its business in, however, I sincerely doubt the organization would engage in a mad dash to inform the media even if an offer was indeed made.
One important consideration to keep in mind is that if the Rangers can somehow weather the short-term financial burden -- and the stretching of a presumably static 2009 payroll -- that the acquisition of Sheets would entail, the 2010 payroll situation looks to be considerably more favorable in terms of breathing room. Kevin Millwood ($12 million option for 2010 automatically vests if he pitches 180 innings in 2009; otherwise, the contract may be rendered voidable at the Rangers' discretion) and Vicente Padilla ($12 million option for 2010 with a $1.75 million buyout) may or may not be back, but the 2009 salaries of Hank Blalock ($6.2 million) and Joaquin Benoit ($3.5 million) will be cleared from the books, and Texas can circumvent the unpalatable possibility of paying Frank Catalanotto $5 million to keep the bench warm in 2010 by ponying up the cash necessary to invoke his $2 million buyout clause.
Additionally, the Rangers have unveiled their home, road and alternate uniform designs for the 2009 season (all available for viewing in .pdf format here), which notably include the return of red uniform tops:
Texas will don their new threads on Opening Day and on Saturday night home games during the 2009 season, as well as during a special "Red Out" weekend.