The Rangers remain open to any possibility that could arise in the remainder of the off-season.
But right now, they are dubious about the possibility of pulling off a double play that would send second baseman Alfonso Soriano to the Houston Astros and free up money so they can sign free-agent first baseman Carlos Delgado.
“Our position with Sori is exactly as it has been,” Rangers general manager John Hart said Monday. “We like the player, and we see him here on the ballclub. That’s been pretty much the case all along.”
What’s changed is the Houston Astros were unable to re-sign center fielder Carlos Beltran, who has agreed to a seven-year, $119 million contract with the New York Mets.
That leaves the Astros with another hole in their lineup. The Rangers and the Astros spoke briefly about Soriano at the winter meetings, talks that were broken off until the Beltran situation was resolved.
The sides expect to talk again, but the Astros might look at acquiring outfielder Randy Winn from the Seattle Mariners and going with top prospect Chris Burke at second base. Another possibility is trading for the Mets’ Mike Cameron.
The Rangers would want Burke in any deal for Soriano. They would also want pitching, a list that would start with either Brandon Backe or minor league prospect Ezequiel Astacio.
Rangers officials insist they don’t see a situation where they can have both Soriano and Delgado on the same team, not unless owner Tom Hicks makes an exception to the stated payroll budget. Right now, the Rangers are looking at a $52-$55 million payroll, plus the $9 million they owe on Alex Rodriguez’s contract.
The Rangers are expecting Delgado to sign with the New York Mets for $12-$14 million per year. The Rangers have already shown a reluctance to go higher than $10 million per season.