12:35 PM Update: According to Bruce Levine of ESPN 1000 in Chicago, the Rangers reportedly offered more money than anybody else for Fukudome; furthermore, the losing bid submitted by the White Sox was almost identical to the Cubs' winning bid.
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The Texas Rangers' pursuit of free agent outfielder Kosuke Fukudome has come to a screeching halt.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com is reporting tonight that the Chicago Cubs have reached a preliminary agreement with the 30-year-old Japanese superstar on a four-year contract, which is expected to be worth approximately $12 million per season.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune's Tom Krasovic, the Padres offered Fukudome at least three guaranteed years with an annual salary in excess of $10 million, but came up short in the end - along with the Rangers, White Sox and possibly the Giants.
Only one emotion immediately springs to mind when summarizing this turn of events from the Rangers' perspective: disappointment.
In other news, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News says that the Rangers are taking a "tight-lipped approach" toward the long-anticipated Mitchell Report, which is not only expected to contain numerous revelations concerning baseball's "steroid era," but could also be released as early as Thursday.
Club spokesman Jim Sundberg publicly addressed the investigation via written statement on Tuesday:
"The Texas Rangers, like every major league team, understand that these are serious issues for our club, our players and our fans. We worked many hours to provide thorough, accurate and comprehensive materials to Senator [George] Mitchell's inquiry. It has taken us well over 1,000 hours to assist in this effort. With the final issuance of the report, we will be able to focus all of our attention to the start of the 2008 baseball season."
Somehow, I have a gut feeling that more than one ex-Ranger's name will end up buried within this 400-page monstrosity.
In addition to re-signing Triple-A Oklahoma right-hander Franklyn German to a minor league deal with an invitation to big league camp, Texas inked six other minor league pitchers on Tuesday: left-handers Eric Cyr (yes, that Eric Cyr!) and Carlos A. Perez, as well as right-handers Adalberto Flores, Alfredo Gonzalez, Corey Ragsdale and Jake Dittler.
In 59.1 innings with the Redhawks in 2007, German went 2-2 with a 3.49 ERA, and fanned an impressive 72 batters. However, a poor 1.52 WHIP, fueled by an eye-popping 46 walks, might have had a little something to do with the 27-year-old Dominican Republic native not getting an opportunity to ply his craft with the big league club last year. Nonetheless, German will have another opportunity to make the Rangers' 25-man roster next spring.
MetsBlog.com's Matthew Cerrone notes that while the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox are currently believed to be the front-runners for Twins left-hander Johan Santana, the Rangers are supposedly the "third team in [the] mix," rather than the Yankees, Mariners or Angels. Interesting.
And finally, newly acquired outfielder Milton Bradley will undergo his physical exam on Wednesday, which remains the lone obstacle in the way of his one year, $5 million contract being successfully finalized. Should everything go off without a hitch, the signing could be officially announced by the Rangers as soon as Thursday.
But given that Bradley is still recuperating from a torn ACL, it might be prudent all the same to keep your fingers crossed that he actually does pass his physical.
The Rangers may have lost out on one of their prime off-season targets on Tuesday night in Fukudome, but to fall short again on another free agent outfielder, especially one with whom an agreement had already been struck, would be nothing short of gut-wrenching.