SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The calls are coming, just like the Rangers expected them to this spring. Clubs have asked about Akinori Otsuka and there's no surprise there. Several teams in baseball are looking for a closer. But they've also been asking about Rick Bauer and Frank Francisco as well. Major League teams know the Rangers may have extra relief pitching to trade before Spring Training is over, and it's just not the teams looking for closers that have dialed their number. Right now, the Rangers put most calls on hold.
"We have to make sure what appears to be excess is really excess," general manager Jon Daniels said before the Rangers game with the San Diego Padres on Friday night. "I want to get through the spring making sure that everybody is healthy and continues to pitch well. If that happens, we may have some more detailed conversations. Right now, we're just taking inventory in other teams' interests." The Rangers have been made well aware of who needs a closer. The Boston Red Sox are most prominent on that list as they sort through a list of their own candidates that includes Mike Timlin, Craig Hansen, Julian Tavarez and others. They have long been rumored to be interested in Washington's Chad Cordero. But the Florida Marlins are looking for a closer, too, and are actively talking to the Arizona Diamondbacks about Jorge Julio. The San Francisco Giants have made the same call. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Cincinnati Reds also could be looking for help. Even teams that thought they were set may end up being worried. J.J. Putz saved 36 games for the Seattle Mariners last year but had an MRI on Friday for an elbow that has been bothering him for much of the spring. The Rangers have had offers for Otsuka, but they have mainly been along the lines of two mediocre players for a guy who saved 32 games in 2006. The Rangers aren't going there. "It would have to be significant to pique my interest in talking about Aki," Daniels said. "He's a big part of this club." There are 39 relievers in Major League camps this spring that have recorded at least 32 saves in a season at some points in their career. That list includes guys who have gone back to starting, including Derek Lowe, Kelvim Escobar, Miguel Batista, Jonathan Papelbon and Byung-Hyun Kim and some ageless wonders like Roberto Hernandez and Jose Mesa who are trying to hang on as setup relievers. There are others who have been dealing with health issues the past few years and whose reliability is uncertain. Armando Benitez of the Giants is prominent in that regard.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.