© 2012 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
01/25/12 10:07 AM EST
Teams said to have interest in Rangers' Uehara
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are still drawing considerable interest from other teams in reliever Koji Uehara, according to a Major League source.
A trade to the Blue Jays fell through when Uehara exercised his no-trade clause, and the Orioles have shown interest. A deal with the Orioles doesn't appear imminent at this point, but the source said there are teams out there that have shown more interest than Baltimore.
The Rangers are willing to move Uehara because they are planning to move All-Star starter Alexi Ogando back to the bullpen to make room in the rotation for Yu Darvish. Right now the Rangers are planning on a rotation of Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Darvish, Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz.
Ogando would give the Rangers three hard-throwing setup relievers along with Mike Adams and Mark Lowe. The Rangers signed Joe Nathan as a free agent to be their closer.
The Rangers also have Scott Feldman and Yoshinori Tateyama as middle relievers. They could use left-handed relief, but Michael Kirkman will be given a serious look for that spot. The Rangers are also considering the possibility of using top left-handed pitching prospects Martin Perez and Robbie Ross in relief. Both are considered future starters but could break into the big leagues as relievers. similar to what the Rangers did with C.J. Wilson, Ogando and Feliz.
One pitcher to watch in Spring Training is Mitch Stetter, a left-handed reliever who has had some success in that role with the Brewers. He was limited to 16 games last year because of a hip injury before the Rangers signed him to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. He pitched in 101 games for the Brewers in 2008-09 and was 7-2 with a 3.45 ERA, while opponents hit .199 off him, including .172 by left-handed hitters.
The Rangers also have some young relievers with limited or no Major League experience that they will look at in Spring Training, including right-handers Mark Hamburger, Justin Miller and Cody Eppley, and left-hander Miguel de los Santos. Right-hander Neil Ramirez, who is also considered a future starter, is another possibility.
There are also teams that have shown interest in Feldman, a 17-game winner in 2009 who has been set back the past two years because of a knee injury and is now a middle reliever. But he will make $6.5 million this year and the club has a $9.25 million option for 2013. The Rangers would likely have to pick up at least part of Feldman's salary in any deal.
Uehara was 1-2 with a 4.00 ERA in 22 games for the Rangers after he was acquired from the Orioles on July 30 for pitcher Tommy Hunter and first baseman Chris Davis. He allowed five home runs in 15 innings. He appeared in three games total between the American League Division Series against Tampa Bay and the AL Championship Series against Detroit, allowing five runs in 1 1/3 innings. That included three more home runs, and he was taken off the roster for the World Series.
With just under a month left before Spring Training, there are still many teams trying to get their bullpen in order. The Rangers don't necessarily have to move Uehara, but it is clear there are still teams out there interested in him and there is enough depth to consider the possibility of a trade.