According to Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated, Ben Sheets has reportedly asked the Mets for two guaranteed seasons for something in the neighborhood of $18 million, with a third-year option. Verducci thinks that New York, on the other hand, is thinking more along the lines of the one-year, $5 million, heavily incentivized deal Boston gave Brad Penny. Big gap.
At this point, if Texas were to sign Sheets (or any other Type A free agent), the second-round pick the club would forfeit would sit at number 56 - and it could end up being as late as pick number 69. The players that Texas has chosen in that range this decade include Robbie Ross, Johnny Whittleman, K.C. Herren, Jason Bourgeois, and Randy Truselo.
Marlon Byrd, the Rangers' lone remaining arbitration-eligible, has submitted an arbitration figure of $3.6 million, while the club has submitted a $2.7 million figure. Expect a settlement of $3.15 or $3.2 million, maybe with some plate appearance incentives that would kick it to the latter number, or slightly higher.
C.J. Wilson's deal is for $1.85 million, with incentives tacked on.
Detroit avoided arbitration with Gerald Laird by settling for $2.8 million.
Brandon McCarthy, who stands 6'7", has reportedly increased his weight (intentionally) from 195 pounds to 220 pounds, thanks to a daily 7,000-calorie diet. He says he's healthy.
Thomas Diamond proclaimed his health as well.
In his 2009 Baseball Prospect Book, which should be released soon, John Sickels has the following Rangers among his top 50 hitting prospects and top 50 pitching prospects in the game:
Top 50 Hitting Prospects
10. Justin Smoak, 1B (only one first baseman [Boston's Lars Anderson] is ranked higher; Cincinnati's Yonder Alonso, drafted four spots before Smoak in June, was number 30 on Sickels's list; catcher Jason Castro, chosen immediately before Smoak on Draft Day, is nowhere to be found - in fact, there's not one Houston Astro on either top 50 list)
11. Elvis Andrus, SS (number one shortstop in the rankings)
39. Taylor Teagarden, C (number six catcher)
42. Max Ramirez, C-1B (I'll say it again; I have Ramirez as number eight overall in the Rangers system - but there are probably several organization's for whom he'd be number one)
48. Julio Borbon, OF
Top 50 Pitching Prospects
2. Neftali Feliz, RHP (behind October hero David Price)
12. Derek Holland, LHP (Sickels has Oakland righthander Trevor Cahill and lefthander Brett Anderson 4th and 6th)
32. Michael Main, RHP
Ramirez is one of six catchers assigned to Venezuela's provisional roster for the World Baseball Classic. The other five (Dioner Navarro, Ramon Hernandez, Humberto Quintero, Henry Blanco, and Pablo Sandoval [who like Ramirez is more of a bat and could figure in at an infield corner for the Giants]) all have more big league experience than Ramirez, who I'd just assume see in Rangers camp from start to finish.
Particularly if Texas trades Hank Blalock, as Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune suggests is still something the club is trying to do. Should that happen, Ramirez could figure in as the Rangers' designated hitter, perhaps in a shared arrangement at the outset with Frank Catalanotto (who, incidentally, is the only other Rangers player on a provisional WBC roster, slated to join Team Italy as he did in 2006).
Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports that Florida continues to show interest in Ramirez as a catcher, particularly now that its effort to sign Gregg Zaun fell short.
Texas signed veteran catcher Adam Melhuse to a minor league deal for the second straight January (after trading for him in June 2007). He'll likely mentor Ramirez behind the plate at AAA, though if Texas were to trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Melhuse could find himself as Taylor Teagarden's backup in Arlington.
According to Baseball America, Texas released outfielder Victor Barrios, who didn't play in 2008 after a solid 2006 rookie season in the Arizona League and a disappointing 2007 in the Northwest League. BA also reports the minor league signing of a righthander named Aaron Thompson. It's not the lefthander that the Marlins took in the first round in 2005 out of a Houston high school. I have no idea who it is.
The Rangers released details about individual-game ticket prices, national television appearances, and the promotional schedule for 2009. You can find it all here: http://texas.rangers.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090120&content_id=3751657&vkey=news_tex&fext=.jsp&c_id=tex
You can now listen to the latest episode of Rangers Podcast in Arlington at http://rangerspodcast.blogspot.com or at http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=277027197. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News joined host Ted Price, Adam Morris, and myself for a little over an hour of Rangers talk.
I should have details for you today or tomorrow about Saturday's player autograph schedule at FanFest.
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