Wrapping up the latest trade-market scuttlebutt on an inactive Monday afternoon/evening:
● According to a major league source, the Rangers and Astros are "closing in" on a deal which would ship ace right-hander Roy Oswalt to Texas for an undisclosed package of prospects; while it remains unclear which prospects are involved, the source's understanding of the situation is that the framework of the deal has been agreed upon; the sticking point, however, is the Rangers' attempts to convince Major League Baseball to green-light the deal (Craig Calcaterra, NBCSports.com)
[Oh hey, here we go. For what it's worth, the Rangers are vehemently denying that there's any semblance of truth to this rumor, but they also have reason to discredit the Calcaterra-relayed rumor, and Calcaterra -- who seems to be fairly well-connected -- has proven right about some Rangers-related matters in recent months. I'm not saying we should invest blind trust in a trade rumor, of course; very few trade rumors ever come to fruition. What I'm saying is that we shouldn't dismiss a trade rumor out of hand solely because the Rangers served up a public refutation.
Last month, I suggested that a package comprising Martin Perez, Mitch Moreland and Matt Harrison might get a deal done; that might still be in the right ballpark, but Moreland (.250/.322/.390) isn't exactly mastering the Pacific Coast League in his age-24 season, which probably gives Houston some cause to hesitate, and Harrison is a low- to medium-upside pitcher who has performed at a marginal level to date, leaving Perez as the lone true high-upside commodity in that trade configuration. Perhaps kicking in a high-upside reliever (e.g. Pedro Strop, Alexi Ogando and/or Omar Beltre) puts that deal over the top, with "the top" being higher by virtue of Houston presumably needing to eat a lot of money. Teams always love live-armed relievers with late-inning potential.]
The aforementioned "sticking point" is, of course, an enormous one, if not totally insurmountable -- there's some debate as to whether the Fort Worth bankruptcy court that the Rangers find themselves mired in would have to approve an Oswalt-to-Texas deal, but the bigger dilemma is obtaining clearance from Major League Baseball. ESPN.com's Buster Olney has reported that the prevailing sentiment amongst other organizations is that Texas should not be permitted to assume significant player salaries on baseball's dime. Other owners have a vested interest in keeping the Rangers afloat and viable as a franchise; they do not, however, have a vested interest in helping make the Rangers better. This deal probably doesn't go down, but keep a close eye on it.]
● Texas continues to explore a number of deals in its continued pursuit of a "right-handed-hitting corner player," including the possibility of acquiring Diamondbacks left fielder Conor Jackson, who could serve as Justin Smoak's platoon partner at first base; however, while the two teams have discussed a Jackson-to-Texas deal, one source noted that "nothing is remotely close" (Ken Rosenthal, FOXSports.com)
[An appealing buy-low candidate on paper, given his excellent control of the strike zone (lifetime walks-to-strikeouts ratio of 0.91) and high line-drive rate (27.6 percent) that contradicts his pedestrian .238/.326/.331-level production in Arizona this year. Good defensive versatility. Good work against southpaws. Could you bear to relinquish a mid-level prospect or two for Jackson and however much money he's destined to pull down in 2011, his final arbitration-eligible season before free agency? I think I could, although before wholeheartedly embracing the 1B/DH/LF-playing Jackson, you have to consider which role(s) he would fill for Texas next season. Part-time player at all three positions, perhaps? A successor to Vladimir Guerrero? I don't know, but it's something to think about.]