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Some more guys off the market now, that the Rangers had interest in...

Jay Payton is reportedly about to sign with the Baltimore Orioles, on a 2 year, $9.75 million deal.

My reaction is good, I wasn't really interested in Payton anyway, because he's not a good player. He's not good enough defensively to play centerfield, doesn't hit enough to be a corner outfielder, but apparently, the O's are going to put him in left field, even though his EQAs the past three years have been .263, .264 and .250.

Andy Pettitte is a Yankee, and Jayson Stark says that Pettitte would have stayed in Houston if the Astros had offered him a one year, $14 million deal ($2 million less than the $16 million deal he signed with New York, and $2 million more than they were offering).

But the Astros wouldn't come up -- motivated in part, according to Stark, by the reaction to overpaying Carlos Lee:

The buzz around baseball is that MLB officials -- particularly commissioner Bud Selig -- weren't happy with the Astros for giving $100 million over six years to free agent Carlos Lee. So owner Drayton McLane might be trying to placate MLB's hard-liners by attempting to hold down the rest of his payroll.

With Pettitte heading to New York, it makes Roger Clemens' return less likely, so the Astros are now rocking along with a rotation of Roy Oswalt, Woody Williams, and a bunch of question marks. They may be more willing to overpay for Jon Garland now, but if you are going to pay Carlos Lee ridiculous dollars to come to town and try to win now, it seems stupid to lose out on a starting pitcher that you really need to keep over $2 million on a one year deal.

This isn't the best of news for the Rangers, either, since the Astros are going to be trying to trade for the same pitchers as the Rangers are. The Denver Post says that the Astros are expected to re-open trade talks with the Rockies about Jason Jennings, and reiterates the Rangers' interest, identifying C.J. Wilson and John Danks as players who appeal to the Rockies. I'm guessing, at this point, it would take both Wilson and Danks to get Jennings...

The Rangers signed Marlon Byrd, former ROY candidate turned bust, to a one year deal. Low risk signing there, they can bring him in as insurance out in center this spring, send him to Oklahoma if they don't need him.

Byrd looked like a nice player a few years ago, but he just stopped hitting, resulting in the Phillies giving up on him, shipping him to Washington, and then getting released.

I've been dismissive of reports of the Rangers' interest in Eric Gagne, but they just keep coming, suggesting that there really is something there. The L.A. Times says that the Cleveland Indians and the Rangers have each offered Gagne a one year deal for "close to" $6 million, while the Boston Herald reports that either the Rangers, Indians or Giants have supposedly offered Gagne a one year, $5.5 million deal.

I'm not sure why the Rangers would be in on this, other than to free them up to deal some more relief arms than they would otherwise. It doesn't particularly fit a need, and it seems like we'd just be getting another season's worth of Justin Thompson/Jeff Zimmerman-esque "he's throwing off of flat ground from 90 feet today, and hopes to start throwing off a mound in two weeks" stories...

The Oakland Tribune says the Giants have no interest in Barry Zito, that Zito is waiting to see if Tom Hicks blows him away with a huge deal, and if Hicks doesn't, Zito is heading to the Mets.

The Boston Globe discusses the possibility of the BoSox acquiring Akinori Otsuka to close for them, and also mentions that the Rangers and Red Sox have had discussions of a possible Kam Loe for David Murphy swap. Murphy is a former first rounder out of Baylor in 2003 who was viewed as something of a bust a couple of years ago, but who has revived his career to an extent, although he looks to be a good field, no hit centerfielder.

Brandon Inge and the Tigers have agreed to a 4 year, $24 million deal. I don't really get this, either. He's a high strikeout, low walk guy who hit a lot of homers last year, but whose EQA has steadily declined, and who the Tigers are locking up through his age 30-33 seasons. He can pick it at third, but spending $6 million per year on a defensive specialist at third base who can't get on base doesn't seem like the wisest allocation of funds, to me.