Wherein we really hope to see that hot stove start percolating out of control -- and soon:
10:20 P.M. CST -- The Rangers and Rays have discussed a possible Dioner Navarro-to-Texas deal, and Marlins corner infielder Jorge Cantu is thought to be of great interest to the Rangers, who would be amenable to trading pitching for a right-handed bat (Jeff Wilson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Jon Paul Morosi, FOXSports.com)
[The Navarro-to-Texas notion was touched on during the wee hours of this morning, but Cantu -- whose name has proliferated in trade circles since last year's winter meetings -- is a bit more intriguing, primarily because he's hit approximately .310/.375/.505 in his last 330 plate appearances against left-handed pitching over the last two seasons and has some modicum of defensive aptitude at first base.
Mind you, absorbing Cantu's salary -- which is certain to climb above $4 million in 2010, as he is entering his final year of arbitration eligibility -- will be no simple task given the current payroll constraints, but it may be that Cantu's somebody you can deploy with total confidence against southpaws and use to spell Chris Davis at first base without sustaining an enormous defensive hit. Morosi suggests that Texas could dangle oft-rumored right-hander Brandon McCarthy as trade bait in such a deal, but that idea doesn't hold much appeal with me.]
10:05 P.M. CST -- A few evening tidbits: The Rangers were expected to meet with the agents of free agent left-hander Darren Oliver on Tuesday evening, and were hoping to receive a medical update on free agent right-hander Ben Sheets from agent Casey Close before the meetings wrapped up; Texas is "no longer interested" in Cubs outfielder Milton Bradey, but has been discussing Reds left-hander Arthur Rhodes (T.R Sullivan, MLB.com; Joel Sherman, New York Post)
[If I didn't know any better, I'd say that Texas was pushing hard for an Opening Day starting rotation boasting either Rich Harden or Ben Sheets, Scott Feldman, Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter and C.J. Wilson, with Millwood being converted into prospects and payroll relief and McCarthy going ... well, somewhere. See above and below. That's a risky but extremely talented group of pitchers, one with materially higher upside than a Millwood/Feldman/Hunter/Holland/McCarthy rotation but also a much higher beta coefficient. And perhaps that's the sort of gamble it's going to take to have a legit shot at winning the division next year.]
4:20 P.M. CST -- One baseball official "swears" that Texas recently offered right-hander Nefali Feliz and first baseman Justin Smoak to the Marlins for right-hander Josh Johnson, but they were rebuffed by Florida (Jeff Wilson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
[For what it's worth, friend of Baseball Time in Arlington Frankie Piliere noted later in the day that no such offer was actually made, apparently corroborating the rumor's absurdity with two different sources. It's a steeper price than most people would be inclined to pay (including myself), but even though this trade is clearly not happening, understand that Johnson would have a legitimate chance at being a true ace in the American League and would probably render Texas the favorite to win the division in 2010. But, once again, it's not happening.]
2:50 P.M. CST -- Catching has emerged as a "high priority" for the Rangers in light of Jarrod Saltalamacchia's uncertain status, and included among the group of catchers the Rangers are considering are Rod Barajas, Jason Kendall, Yorvit Torrealba, Jose Molina and Henry Blanco (T.R. Sullivan, MLB.com)
[Blanco's not a bad option. Kendall can't throw. Barajas will hit lots of home runs, but will give you a .260 on-base percentage while doing it. Torrealba's apparently staying in Colorado. And the distance from Molina's 2009 campaign (.260 wOBA) to the league-average hitter (.335 wOBA) is roughly equivalent to the distance from the league-average hitter to Carlton Fisk's breakthrough AL ROY-winning 1972 campaign (.408 wOBA), which is utterly mind-boggling.]
2:20 P.M. CST -- Right-hander Brandon McCarthy is drawing trade interest from other clubs; the Rangers have been linked to Pirates right-hander Matt Capps and catcher Ryan Doumit, as well as (for some reason) Dodgers outfielder Juan Pierre, but Pirates general manager Neal Huntington stated that Texas was "not a serious suitor" for Doumit and had no interest in a deal (Jon Paul Morosi, FOXSports.com; Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
2:00 P.M. CST -- Team president Nolan Ryan confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that he has partnered with Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg and will not remain with the organization if Dennis Gilbert places the prevailing bid; both Gilbert and Greenberg re-submitted bids on Monday (Jeff Wilson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
1:55 P.M. CST -- One report states that the Orioles are dangling 24-year-old outfielder Felix Pie as bait in a potential Kevin Millwood deal; another report suggests that the Rangers were interested in Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman but were instead being offered David Hernandez and Brandon Erbe, with the end result being that the Orioles-Rangers connection has "cooled off" (John Perrotto, Baseball Prospectus; T.R. Sullivan, MLB.com)
1:40 P.M. CST -- The Diamondbacks -- who just completed a three-way blockbuster trade in which they seem to have downgraded talent-wise -- proposed dealing catcher Chris Snyder for left-hander C.J. Wilson; not surprisingly, they were rebuffed (T.R. Sullivan, MLB.com)
7:30 A.M. CST -- Trade discussions between the Rangers and Orioles appear to be heating up beyond mere exchanging of pleasantries, as Baltimore "may be getting closer" to acquiring veteran right-hander Kevin Millwood for a "second-level pitching prospect"; the quality of the prospect would be contingent upon how much of Millwood's $12 million salary the Rangers elected to subsidize (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore Sun)
[A big development, if true, and presumably (hopefully?) indicative of something bigger brewing in the Rangers' front office. You're not getting elite 22-year-old southpaw Brian Matusz without chipping in a significant quantity of additional talent (nor Jake Arrieta or Zach Britton), so don't even bother going there; instead, focus your attention more on the likes of right-handers Brandon Erbe -- who might also be out of range -- and Kam Mickolio, Luis Lebron and Steve Johnson, all three of whom recently earned 'C+' grades from prospect guru John Sickels.
Finding yourself underwhelmed by some of those names? I don't blame you, but after all of this posturing on the part of the front office suggesting that Millwood is highly valued and that there's no real impetus to move him, the only conclusion one can logically arrive at is that there's something else going on here. Understand that if some configuration of this proposed deal ultimately goes down, that $6-9 million of cost savings isn't just vanishing into Tom Hicks' luxuriously deep pockets; it's going to be applied towards something, or saved to be deployed later this winter. Stay tuned.]
6:50 A.M. CST -- Free agent right-hander Brad Penny has agreed to terms with the Cardinals on a one-year, $7.5 million contract with an additional $1.5 million in performance bonuses (Buster Olney, ESPN.com)
[A higher base salary than one would have expected Penny to snag, and one that could set the benchmark higher for the likes of Rich Harden and Ben Sheets than the Rangers might have hoped.]
Early Morning Quick Hits: Missed all of the Day One boredom excitement? Click here for an extensive, play-by-play recap ... According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, the Rangers have inquired into the availability of Padres right-hander Heath Bell, but are unlikely to swing a deal due to the poor wants-and-needs match between the clubs ... Per MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, the Diamondbacks "would like nothing more than to get their hands on Derek Holland or Neftali Feliz," but Texas isn't going there.