Rangers investigating relief candidates

Texas investigating relief possibilities

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are working hard to upgrade their bullpen, and right-handed reliever Derrick Turnbow appears to be at the top of their list right now.

The Rangers are one of three teams competing for Turnbow, along with the Marlins and Pirates. Turnbow has had shoulder issues and appeared in just eight games for the Brewers in 2008.

But he was 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA and 39 saves in 2005 for the Brewers, and he has been recommended by new pitching coach Mike Maddux.

The Rangers appear focused on upgrading their bullpen, and they are looking for low-cost, high-reward relievers on the free-agent market. The Rangers had some success in that regard with Eric Gagne in 2007 and Eddie Guardado in '08.

The Rangers have investigated several other possibilities along those lines, including right-handers Chad Cordero and Jason Isringhausen. Cordero saved 113 games for the Nationals in 2005-07 before being limited to just six games this past season because of a torn labrum in his shoulder. Isringhausen has 293 career saves with the Athletics and Cardinals, but he was limited to just 12 saves for St. Louis in 2008 because of a torn tendon in his elbow.

Turnbow, Cordero and Isringhausen all have extensive closing experience. Frank Francisco is the Rangers closer right now after holding down the job for the final five weeks of the season. C.J. Wilson, who led the Rangers with 24 saves before undergoing elbow surgery in August, is also a candidate.

Another former Brewer who is on the Rangers' list is right-hander Guillermo Mota, 35, who was 5-6 with a 4.11 ERA in 58 games last year. The Rangers have also talked with Guardado, who could fill a need again either as a closer or a left-handed setup man.

Hot Stove

The Rangers are looking at several left-handed possibilities, including Brian Shouse, Dennys Reyes, Joe Beimel and Will Ohman. Shouse and Reyes are former Rangers. Beimel was drafted by the Rangers in the 26th round in 1996, but he did not sign. He was 5-1 with a 2.02 ERA in 71 games for the Dodgers in 2008.

The Rangers made a strong push to sign Joe Nelson earlier this month and almost got something done right before Christmas. But he ended up signing with the Rays instead.

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