Rangers keeping open mind in trade talks

LAS VEGAS — The possibility of the Rangers being a trade match with the Braves involving outfielder Nomar Mazara may be the most intriguing development for Texas at the Winter Meetings.

There are no signs that a deal is imminent. But the Rangers are looking hard for pitching, they are willing to discuss some of their offensive talent and the Braves have a need for a front-line outfielder. The Braves also have an abundance of young pitching that could be used in a trade for immediate help.

LAS VEGAS — The possibility of the Rangers being a trade match with the Braves involving outfielder Nomar Mazara may be the most intriguing development for Texas at the Winter Meetings.

There are no signs that a deal is imminent. But the Rangers are looking hard for pitching, they are willing to discuss some of their offensive talent and the Braves have a need for a front-line outfielder. The Braves also have an abundance of young pitching that could be used in a trade for immediate help.

“We have talked about a little bit of this and a little bit of that,” general manager Jon Daniels said Monday. “Obviously, we need more than one guy. We have talked about free-agent starters on one-year deals, beyond that. Talked about some different trades, more for younger guys.”

The Braves’ top prospect is right-hander Mike Soroka, 21, who reached the Majors last season and was 2-1 with a 3.51 ERA in five starts before being shut down with shoulder inflammation. Right-hander Kyle Wright, their No. 2 prospect and fifth overall pick out of Vanderbilt in 2017, was a combined 8-9 with a 3.46 ERA in 27 games between Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett. Right behind them are right-handers Ian Anderson and Touki Toussaint.

Video: [email protected]: Soroka strikes out Smith looking

They all might not be ready for the big leagues right away, but Daniels won’t be deterred by that if it means getting top talent in return for Mazara or one of his other top young offensive players.

“We would consider that,” Daniels said. “We have had those types of discussions where we would trade guys off our big league team for younger talent.”

Woodward says Leclerc’s role likely expanding

The Rangers still see Mazara as a potential major run producer at the Major League level, having driven in 100 runs in 2017. But outfield depth is a strength for the Rangers, both on the big league team and in the farm system. Texas’ top two prospects are outfielders Leody Taveras and Julio Pablo Martinez, and center fielder Bubba Thompson was their No. 1 pick in the 2017 Draft.

Video: [email protected]: Mazara belts 2 homers, including 20th of ’18

The Braves are coming off a 90-win season and a division title, and general manager Alex Anthopoulos appears ready to be aggressive in the trade market.

“I think we encourage conversation,” Anthopoulos said. “We say, ‘Don’t be afraid to ask about anybody, because we’re not going to get offended.’ I’d rather have the conversation. We encourage ideas, thoughts or free-flowing conversations. We’ll consider anything. I know we’re not afraid to ask at the same time about other players [from other teams].”

The Rangers might be willing to talk more about their outfield than infielder Jurickson Profar. The Rangers are getting renewed interest in Profar after he re-established himself as a Major League talent in 2018. But right now, he fits with the Rangers as their starting third baseman.

Video: [email protected]: Profar drives 433-ft. jack for 20th homer

“Doesn’t punch out, doesn’t swing and miss,” Daniels said. “He hits left-handed pitching, he protects us at a lot of spots. He has great makeup. In the scheme of baseball salaries, he is relatively affordable. He does a lot of things that works for us.”

Rangers going to Nashville
The Rangers will play an exhibition game with the Triple-A Nashville Sounds at 1:05 p.m. CT on March 24 in Nashville. The Rangers reached an agreement with the Sounds on a four-year Player Development contract in September.

Rangers claim infielder Asuaje from Padres

The Rangers are scheduled to play the Royals on March 24 in Texas’ final Cactus League game in Arizona. But most of the Major League squad is expected to play in Nashville that day before the Rangers return home to Arlington for two exhibition games against the Indians on March 25-26. The Rangers open the regular season on March 28 against the Cubs.

“This is another thrilling and historic day for the Nashville Sounds,” Nashville general manager Adam Nuse said. “One of the biggest goals we established with our partnership with the Rangers was to bring a Spring Training exhibition game to First Tennessee Park and the city of Nashville. We can’t wait to work with the Rangers to showcase Major League Baseball to this great city and our incredibly supportive fan base.”

Rangers beat
• University of North Carolina pitching coach Robert Woodard is expected to join the Rangers as a Minor League pitching coordinator. He will work alongside Danny Clark, who has been the Rangers main Minor League pitching coordinator for the past 10 years.

• Don’t look for the Rangers to pursue right-hander Sonny Gray, who is being shopped by the Yankees. He can become a free agent after the season.

Video: [email protected]: Gray strikes out Grossman swinging in 3rd

“That doesn’t make sense for a one-year guy,” Daniels said. “We’re not one piece away. It’s not like we need a finishing piece to the club where we would part with prospects for a one-year guy. We might part with some of our prospects for controllable assets.”

• There have been some discussions about banning defensive shifts, but Rangers manager Chris Woodward said he doesn’t see that happening.

“The whole shifting, that’s never going to go away,” Woodward said. “I’ve heard talks about that, I don’t see how they can do it.”

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

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