Rangers brass has a day and some change to find a deal before the non-waiver trade deadline at 3 p.m. Friday to help fortify the Rangers for the stretch run, but Jon Daniels and crew will have to find away to remove the financial shackles that are making their task more difficult.
The Phillies will pay the rest of Cliff Lee's salary this season, around $2 million. Philadelphia traded a top prospect whose star had diminished in some circles and a highly regarded pitcher at least three years away. They also tossed in two other prospects. Surely, the Rangers could have matched that prospect package, but was a seemingly paltry $2 million the deal-breaker? It might have been.
So, working under the theory that the Rangers can't handle a $2 million hit, they will have to trade salary to take on salary. That points to Hank Blalock, who has around $2.3 million remaining on his 2009 contract, but the Rangers might not want to ship away their solution at first base unless they believe Chris Davis can be productive the final two months of the season.
The Rangers would need Arizona, for instance, to take on Blalock in a trade for Jon Garland, who is owed $2.75 million the rest of the season, or Doug Davis ($3.3 million). The clubs have spoken about a deal, and the Diamondbacks had a scout at the Rangers-Tigers game Wednesday.
But a baseball source said that Arizona isn't interested in adding anyone from the Rangers' big-league roster and has no need for Blalock. The scout got a look at Guillermo Moscoso, who could entice Arizona as a bullpen piece for next season. Obviously, the Rangers would have to include others in a deal.
Two lefties, Zach Duke of Pittsburgh and John Lannan of Washington, could be affordable solutions, though their rebuilding clubs might try to hold the Rangers hostage for prospects. Daniels said adding a bat is less of a priority, though Marco Scutaro could be an intriguing addition.
He carries a .385 on-base percentage and is third in the AL with 62 walks. So, he would give the Rangers more at the top of the lineup than they are getting from Ian Kinsler. But adding Scutaro jumbles more than just one spot in the order. He would likely become the DH, because the Rangers aren't going to subtract Elvis Andrus' defense, and that would take regular at-bats away from David Murphy, Nelson Cruz and Andruw Jones.
The clock is ticking, and the search for an addition to the roster could come up empty.
-- Jeff Wilson