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Laird nets Rangers pitching prospects

Laird nets Rangers pitching prospects

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LAS VEGAS -- The Rangers have acquired Minor League pitchers Guillermo Moscoso and Carlos Melo from the Tigers for catcher Gerald Laird.

Laird was informed of the trade by Rangers general manager Jon Daniels late Sunday night. An official announcement was made on Monday.

"I'm excited," Laird said. "I get to play every day. Nothing against the Rangers, I love every one of them. I love all those players, I came up with a lot of them. But now I get a change of scenery and do my thing. Play every day."

Moscoso is a 25-year-old right-hander from Venezuela who was 5-4 with a 2.70 ERA in 21 games, including 12 starts, between Class A Lakeland and Double-A Erie this past season. Moscoso, who can both start and pitch in relief, is 2-1 with an 8.36 ERA in eight games in the Venezuelan Winter League.

A Detroit official described Moscoso as a pitcher with a 91-93 mph fastball with an average breaking ball and a developing changeup. It's highly unlikely that he'll compete for a job on the Major League level in Spring Training.

Melo, 17, is a 6-foot-3 right-hander from the Dominican Republic who has yet to pitch in the United States. He was 3-3 with a 5.14 ERA in 14 games in the Dominican Summer League with 61 strikeouts and 20 walks in 49 innings. The report on him is that he has an "electric" fastball.

The Rangers were hoping to get a Major League-ready pitcher for Laird. But the Reds weren't interested in trading Homer Bailey, who the Rangers wanted in return. The Rangers also talked to the Red Sox, who need a catcher, but they weren't willing to give up anything substantial in return.

The trade leaves Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden as the Rangers' catchers, with Max Ramirez also in the picture. The Rangers received interest from other teams in all four catchers, but were determined from the beginning to trade Laird. He'll likely make around $3 million in arbitration this offseason.

"I was really expecting to be traded," Laird said. "It was obvious the Rangers were going in a different direction."

Daniels and Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski both declined to comment on the trade.

Laird was acquired from the Athletics in 2002 and batted .276 with six home runs and 41 RBIs in 95 games and 344 at-bats this past season.

The development took place on the first day of the Winter Meetings, the same day outfielder Milton Bradley declined an offer of arbitration from the Rangers.

Bradley's refusal means the Rangers will receive a supplemental first-round pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft if he signs with another team. The Rangers have done little in the way of negotiating with Bradley since he filed for free agency at the end of the season.

Bradley led the Rangers with a .321 batting average this past season while leading the club with a .436 on-base percentage. He scored 78 runs, hit 22 home runs and finished with 77 RBIs.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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