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Still another roster/payroll update

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With Gagne, Lofton, and Padilla all signing up, I wanted to do another update of the roster and payroll situation...

The following players are under contract for 2007:

Vicente Padilla -- $11 million (estimate)

Kevin Millwood -- $10.5 million

Mark Teixeira -- $9.4 million

Kenny Lofton -- $6 million

Eric Gagne -- $6 million (plus possible incentives)

Hank Blalock -- $4.75 million

Frank Catalanotto -- $3.5 million

Michael Young -- $3.5 million

Ron Mahay -- $1.25 million

Marlon Byrd -- $500,000 (estimate)

Miguel Ojeda -- $450,000

That's $56.85 million. Add in the $7 million or so for ARod, and the team is at around $63.85 million.

The Rangers have two significant arbitration-eligible players...Brad Wilkerson and Akinori Otsuka. The Rangers are looking at about $4 million for Wilkerson and $3 million for Otsuka.

The Rangers have also indicated they are going to offer arbitration to Rick Bauer and Joaquin Benoit. I'd estimate that those two would come in at about $1.25 million apiece.

That gets the payroll to $73.35 million.

The starting catcher, right fielder and second baseman are likely to be Laird, Cruz and Kinsler, and those three are looking at about $400K apiece.

You are going to have at least 2 more bullpen guys to go with Otsuka, Benoit, Bauer, Gagne and Mahay. My guess is that the Rangers will try to deal Benoit and/or Bauer in spring training, moving them and their salaries off the books, and go with Wilson, Littleton, and Francisco in the pen. Those three will come in at about $1.5 million, combined. Robinson Tejeda seems slotted in a rotation slot, at about $400K. The Rangers seem committed to going with a fifth starter from within the organization -- Josh Rupe would be my guess, although Kam Loe and John Danks are also possibilities.

That gets the payroll to about $76.85 million, with one starting pitcher, a backup infielder, and another positional player still needed.

With Marlon Byrd in the fold, I think Jason Botts will be the "another positional player," getting about 300 ABs at DH. Ramon Vazquez got an NRI, and seems like the leading choice to be the backup infielder, although whomever it is, it will probably be someone making close to the minimum. So we can allocate $1 million to those two slots.

That gets payroll to $77.85 million, with the last starting pitching slot to fill. We know who the team's top choice is to fill that slot, of course...but if they can't get Barry Zito, I'm guessing that we'll see the Jon Garland trade talks re-visited, along with discussions with the Phillies about Jon Lieber.

The Rangers seem to be allocating a lot of their offseason eggs in the Barry Zito basket. I still think he ends up with the Mets, but at this point, it looks like a two team race. And signing Zito bumps the Ranger payroll north of $90 million.

If the Rangers don't sign Zito, they likely would use Otsuka as part of the package for a starting pitcher, so while the payroll would jump up $6-9 million by adding the mystery starter, it would drop $3 million by removing Otsuka. And of course, if/when Bauer and Benoit are moved, that would drop the payroll, as well.

But in any case, we're looking at a payroll in the $80-90 million range, for a team that looks like this:

Cat DH
Lofton CF
Young SS
Teixeira 1B
Wilkerson LF
Kinsler 2B
Blalock 3B
Cruz RF
Laird C

Rotation:

Millwood
Padilla
Mystery Starter
Tejeda
Rupe

Pen:

Otsuka
Gagne
Francisco
Littleton
Wilson
Mahay
Benoit/Bauer