The Texas Rangers, frustrated by the thin trade market for starting pitchers, are increasing their focus on relievers and hitters, according to major-league sources.
Cleveland Indians right fielder Shin-Soo Choo is one hitter in whom the Rangers have interest, sources said. But the Rangers are casting a wide search, and were not yet believed to be close to any trades.
The Indians are reluctant to trade Choo, who would be difficult for them to replace in the leadoff spot. However, Choo’s time with the club likely is limited; he is under club control only through next season, and his agent, Scott Boras, generally prefers his clients to establish their values on the free-agent market.
The Rangers, heavily right-handed in their lineup, would prefer a left-handed hitter such as Choo. The addition of a lefty bat would help protect them against continued regression by Josh Hamilton and/or Hamilton’s departure as a free agent at the end of the season.
The team, deep in major-league ready prospects, was the runner-up to the Los Angeles Angels for Brewers right-hander Zack Greinke. The Indians likely would want pitching that could help them this season and beyond.
The uncertain status of Rangers righty Neftali Feliz, who was scratched from his rehabilitation assignment Sunday due to his discomfort in his elbow, seemingly would increase the team’s desire to land another starter.
But the top of the pitching market now consists of Tampa Bay Rays right-hander James Shields and Miami Marlins righty Josh Johnson, neither of whom the Rangers consider attractive at their respective teams’ current asking prices, sources said.
Rather than add a starter, the Rangers simply might move righty Alexi Ogando to the rotation, where he would join lefties Matt Harrison and Derek Holland and righties Yu Darvish and Roy Oswalt.
The continued absence of Feliz would increase the importance of adding another reliever.
-Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi