By T.R. Sullivan Star-Telegram Staff Writer wrote:
ARLINGTON - The Rangers emerged from two days of planning sessions realizing that pitcher John Thomson and first baseman Rafael Palmeiro won't be with them next year but shortstop Alex Rodriguez likely will.
Facing financial limitations that haven't changed, the Rangers have decided they can't afford either Thomson or Palmeiro. They also aren't planning to offer salary arbitration to either one by Sunday.
General manager John Hart has stayed in touch with Chris Arnold, Thomson's agent, but Hart doesn't see a deal getting done before Sunday's deadline.
"I'm sure they're waiting to see what happens on [ Sunday]," Hart said. "From a financial standpoint, they have bigger ideas than what we can afford."
Hart also spoke with Fern Cuza, Palmeiro's agent, on Wednesday to discuss what the Rangers are willing to do, and Hart said he does not see a deal getting done.
"We explained our position," Hart said. "The dollars don't seem to work at this stage. I don't think they work at any stage."
By not offering them arbitration, the Rangers will lose negotiating rights to both until May 1.
The one person Hart said he hasn't spoken to lately is Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. The Red Sox are interested in trading outfielder Manny Ramirez for shortstop Alex Rodriguez, but the Rangers aren't interested in that, not unless they get serious financial considerations that would allow them to be much more aggressive in the free-agent market.
There is no sign of that happening, and the Rangers expect Rodriguez to be with them in spring training.
"I've said that all along, that was where I see it going," Hart said.
Hart spent the past two days with owner Tom Hicks, manager Buck Showalter, assistant general manager Grady Fuson and others to figure out what the Rangers can do on a payroll in the mid-$70 million range.
Hart reiterated that the Rangers will not be big spenders in the free-agent market, and their main focus is starting pitching, right-handed relief and a corner outfielder.
As much as the Rangers are concerned about center field, Hart doesn't see a free agent who could fit within their strict budget. Mike Cameron and Kenny Lofton are the top center fielders on the market.
"Ideally you'd like to get a center fielder who can do a lot of things for you," Hart said. "There might be one or two out there like Cameron, like Lofton. But we have a limited chance of getting involved with them."
The Rangers will instead look for someone who can play left or right field, although there is a possibility that Mark Teixeira could move to the outfield and a free-agent first baseman could be signed.
"We'd like to leave Teixeira at first base but that doesn't necessarily mean we will," Hart said.
The Rangers would like to upgrade their bullpen, but they aren't looking for a closer. Jeff Zimmerman will begin throwing next week, and the Rangers hope he will be back in spring training to combine with Francisco Cordero at the end of the game. The Rangers want to give them some help, and right-handers Kerry Ligtenberg and Jason Grimsley are high on the list.
That leaves starting pitching, and the Rangers are focusing on a group that includes Brett Tomko, Jeff Suppan, Miguel Batista, Sterling Hitchcock and Pedro Astacio.
"We've said all along we're going to be slow players," Hart said. "We just have limitations, that hasn't changed. Having Tom [in on the meetings] was good for us, but nothing's different than it was before."
I think all of this was already known, right mad ???