From the 48-Hours-And-Counting Department, wherein we celebrate the long-awaited stateside arrival of Omar Beltre and Alexi Ogando:
● Texas has signed free agent outfielder Endy Chavez -- who is currently recovering from major knee surgery -- to a minor league deal, which will pay an Omar Vizquel-esque $1 million in 2010 if he should make the team (the deal includes a $1.25 million option for 2011); additionally, Jose Molina appears to be attracting more interest from the Rangers than any other free agent catcher at the moment (Jon Heyman, SI.com; T.R. Sullivan, MLB.com)
[This signing would have "shades of Jason Ellison" stamped all over it if not for the non-trivial point that Chavez has, historically speaking, been more useful than Ellison in a back-of-the-roster capacity. The prototypical plus-fielding, light-hitting outfielder with defensive versatility in abundance, Chavez could figure into the Rangers' plans at some point down the line if enough planets perfectly align, although that's going to require Chavez (a) remaining ahead of his recovery schedule, (b) playing well enough at Triple-A Oklahoma City to merit a promotion and (c) the need arising to summon his services to the majors.]
● According to a letter sent on October 22nd, 2009 by MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred to the then-larger group of bidders vying to purchase the Texas Rangers, the ballclub has been in violation of the current collective bargaining agreement "since at least last season" after failing to pay $39.55 million into a league-controlled deferred compensation fund (Daniel Kaplan and Liz Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal)
[Unbelievable. Well, not really, but it's still utterly grotesque. It also doesn't quite end here -- this transgression on the part of the financially woebegone franchise has nothing whatsoever to do with the "line of credit" extended to the Rangers at the request of Tom Hicks last year, which ultimately amounted to $25 million; yes, at the time, Hicks unequivocally stated that it was merely $15 million, so you're now talking about being indebted to Major League Baseball to the discordant tune of $65 million. And people wonder why the commissioner nixed the Matt Purke deal.
Last Wednesday, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi reported that the Rangers' pursuit of a higher-caliber backup catcher was being stymied by payroll restrictions, putting the projected Opening Day payroll on a collision course with the $62-63 million mark -- a good 10 percent lower than where team president Nolan Ryan said that he expected it to be months earlier. Unsettling news, albeit news that's now beginning to make more sense; being the deadbeat father of Major League Baseball isn't really a good way to make friends and influence people at the top.]
● Dave Cameron on Derek Holland: "In an organization with a lot of good young arms, in a division with a lot of good young arms, Holland gets overlooked, but he may be the single most important player in the AL West in 2010. If he’s as good as I think he is, Texas has a legitimate shot at winning 90 games." (Dave Cameron, FanGraphs.com)
[Something that I forgot to mention in the context of last week's No. 5 starter-focused discussion: It's true that Texas could not option Brandon McCarthy to the minors without first running him through revocable optional waivers, and it's also true that this should, in theory, discourage the Rangers from attempting to do so, since they would run the risk of having him claimed ... but in practice, this doesn't happen. According to former Blue Jays assistant general manager Bart Givens, an "unspoken and unwritten gentlemen's agreement seems to exist" where players are never claimed on optional waivers, so there's not really a procedural deterrent to optioning McCarthy.]
Quick Hits: According to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, the Chuck Greenberg-led ownership group factored the Rangers' $39.55 million debt obligation into its final bid, and it's not expected to derail the sale of the franchise.