From the Dallas Morning News’ Richard Durrett.

The Rangers have agreed on a one-year contract worth $6 million with reliever Eric Gagne pending a physical, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

The Rangers have options now in the eighth and ninth inning. They could make Gagne the primary eighth-inning setup man for Akinori Otsuka, the Rangers’ closer last season. Or Texas could slide Gagne in as the closer and move Otsuka to the setup position, where they thought he would be when they traded for him last off-season.

Gagne being taken off the open market should only help Pittsburgh find someone (Boston?) willing to pay a higher price for reliever Mike Gonzalez.

The Snakes are said to be keen on luring the Sultan Of Sloth out of retirement.  Note to Boomer : there’s no Hogs & Heifers in Phoenix, but Alice Cooper’s place will do in a pinch.

The New York Post’s Michael Morrissey reports that Victor Zambrano is eager to return to the Mets, even if he’s reduced to a relief role.  Whenever you’re done laughing, be sure to check out Morrisey’s observations on the Barry Zito chase.

Doing his best to protect the credibility of the Beverly Hills 90210 Sports Council, San Francisco GM Brian Sabean insisted to the San Jose Mercury News’ Andrew Baggerly that Barry Bonds could’ve signed with another club. (link taken from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

Sabean disputed the notion that the Giants were bidding against themselves and that Bonds had no other suitors.

Bonds made a surprise visit to the host hotel of the winter meetings Wednesday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., presumably to meet with other clubs. The St. Louis Cardinals were known to have interest, though it wasn’t unanimous.

Sabean said it was difficult for him to comment on the purpose of Bonds’ visit because “it would smack of collusion.”

But Sabean clearly didn’t consider it an empty stunt.

“You can presume this: If he hadn’t signed with the Giants, he would’ve signed with somebody else,” Sabean said. “I guarantee you that. He was there for a reason, and I know that for a fact. More than one reason.”

Sabes was well aware the Newark Bears would’ve welcomed Barry with open arms. And besides, the Giants failed to sign anyone else.  It’s tempting to call the two parties equally desperate, but only one of them is being paid $16 million plus to put up with the other.