Hot Stove: Texas Winter Heating Up

While everyone expected the cash-strapped Texas Rangers to be quiet this winter, it appears as if they are being anything but.

After a deal yesterday to send starting pitcher Kevin Millwood to Baltimore for setup man Chris Ray and a player to be named, the Rangers ended up completing a deal to sign free agent starter Rich Harden to a one-year deal that is worth between $7-$8 million (which I discussed yesterday) and a trade with Boston to acquire third baseman Mike Lowell in exchange for catcher/first baseman Max Ramirez.

The moving of Millwood was a strategic one that not only gave them end-game bullpen help with Ray, but also freed up the money they needed to sign the free agent Harden who will now take Millwood’s spot in the rotation.

The Rangers have been very smart this winter in the methodical moves they have made. Now the only question is what their plans are regarding their vacant center field spot with the possible exit of free agent Marlon Byrd. While the possibility of Byrd returning is still an option, the Rangers are definitely going to visit cheaper options that are out there. Their wiggle room isn’t enormous as they have Byrd’s expiring contract (a little over $3 million from 2009) as well as the difference between Millwood’s $12.8 million and Harden’s $7 million plus to work with.

It should be interesting to see how their master plan unfolds the rest of the off season.

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