ARLINGTON -- At a time when they are drawing nearer to several contract negotiation deadlines, the Rangers planned to meet with free-agent pitcher Roy Oswalt and his agent, Bob Garber, on Monday, according to sources.The meeting is considered exploratory. The Rangers have some interest in Oswalt, but they also have a set rotation that consists of Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz, and they also have Alexi Ogando and Scott Feldman in the bullpen. Oswalt, who lives in Mississippi and has a long-standing relationship with club president Nolan Ryan, has expressed an interest in pitching for the Rangers. The Cardinals are also interested, and are high on Oswalt's list. Two obstacles remain for the Rangers: price and role. Texas' payroll, with three arbitration cases remaining, could be as high as $130 million, and the club might not be able to handle another high salary. And though the Rangers like the idea of having depth in the rotation, they may not be able to accommodate Oswalt if he is only interested in starting.
General manager Jon Daniels acknowledged the club's interest in Oswalt but declined to discuss Monday's meeting."He's somebody we've talked about, but we're happy with our rotation and our pitching staff," Daniels said. "He's intriguing, but I'm not sure exactly how it fits." The Rangers may have other, more pressing concerns, as arbitration hearings are scheduled with Elvis Andrus on Feb. 9, Mike Napoli on Feb. 15 and Nelson Cruz on Feb. 17. As February approaches, Texas could be looking at going to an actual arbitration hearing for the first time since 2000. Feb. 17 is also significant for another reason, as that's the day Josh Hamilton expects to arrive in Arizona for Spring Training. Hamilton is eligible to be a free agent after the upcoming season, and he has set the beginning of Spring Training as a deadline for any negotiations. The Rangers would like to sign Hamilton to a contract extension, but they will also respect his deadline. Daniels expects the Rangers to have multiple conversations with Hamilton's agent, Mike Moye, in the next few weeks. "We value Josh, and he likes being in Texas," Daniels said. "We're going to have discussions to see if a deal can be worked out. If not, we'll focus on 2012 and revisit it later. I think the deadline makes a lot of sense. Josh has talked about it being a distraction that we don't need. There will be enough other things going around." Hamilton is signed for this season at $13.75 million, having signed a two-year contract on Feb. 11 of last year.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.