Rangers deal Teixeira and Gagne
Club attempted to sign both players to contract extensions
CLEVELAND -- The Rangers tried to re-sign both first baseman Mark Teixeira and reliever Eric Gagne before they tried to trade themRangers owner Tom Hicks said he met with agent Scott Boras on July 15 in Anaheim to discuss both Teixeira and Gagne. During that meeting, Hicks said he presented Boras with an eight-year, $140 million contract for Teixeira. The deal would have been worth $14 million in 2008 and $18 million over the next seven seasons. The offer was rejected and, on Tuesday, the Rangers traded Teixeira and reliever Ron Mahay to the Atlanta Braves. Faced with the same situation, the Rangers traded Gagne to the Boston Red Sox for Major League pitcher Kason Gabbard and Minor League outfielders David Murphy and Engel Beltre "I didn't want to trade Tex until I was absolutely sure that we couldn't sign him and keep him with the Rangers for his entire career," Hicks said. "We made a very strong offer and we were notified that they weren't willing to accept the offer. "That's when we started to be aggressive in trying to trade Tex." On Tuesday, the Rangers formally announced the trade of Teixeira and Ron Mahay to the Braves for catcher/first baseman Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Minor League shortstop Elvis Andrus and pitchers Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Beau Jones. "Tex was every bit of the player we expected him to be," Hicks said. "We were hoping he would end his career with the Rangers. It didn't work out. I wish him nothing but the very best with Atlanta." Teixeira can be a free agent after the 2008 season. Gagne, who led the Rangers with 16 saves, can be a free agent after this season, and Hicks said they offered him a two-year extension with two performance vesting options. That offer was also rejected, and the Rangers turned down a counter-offer. "Eric Gagne is a player that wanted to stay, but we couldn't make a deal with his agent," Hicks said. "It's unfortunate, but we were still able to come up with some very good young players for him." When the trade deadline finally passed, Teixeira, Gagne and Kenny Lofton (traded Friday) were gone and the Rangers had added eight young players. Saltalamacchia and Gabbard are joining the Rangers immediately. "It's tough to see two productive veterans go," shortstop Michael Young said. "At the same time, we're assuming that our new teammates are up to the challenge. We've faced Gabbard in Boston and he threw the ball really good. And I've heard great things about Saltalamacchia." Both Young and pitcher Kevin Millwood admitted there was some concern about how long it would take for the Rangers to be contenders again.
"We'll see how everything goes," Millwood said. "I definitely didn't come here to be in a rebuilding process, but hopefully we'll be better than that. We're definitely not where we need to be, but hopefully we can get there sooner than later."Both Hicks and general manager Jon Daniels did not rule out the possibility of the Rangers being contenders as early as next year. The Rangers still expect Millwood and Vicente Padilla to lead their rotation. But Gabbard immediately becomes one of the leading candidates for the 2008 rotation, and will get a chance over the final two months to earn that job. He and Brandon McCarthy are likely to be the Rangers No. 3-4 starters in 2008. The Rangers still need a closer, but Akinori Otsuka will get that job once he returns from the disabled list. Saltalamacchia appears to be the Rangers' future first baseman, although he will still catch some. Murphy could be a candidate to be in the Rangers outfield next year depending on what they see from him, as well as Nelson Cruz and Marlon Byrd. Realistically, the Rangers will need at least one veteran starter, one front-line outfielder and one big arm in the back of the bullpen before they can start thinking about being a contender again. But Hicks said the Rangers plan to be active in the offseason.
"We want to be in a position to be a contender as quickly as possible," Hicks said. "We've got a great base to build off. It just depends on how much success we have in the offseason. It's all about pitching. We've got some good young arms and we still have a great bullpen."I would not rule out being a contender next year."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.