ESPN.com's Buster Olney takes a look at which pitchers might be on the trading block come the deadline this July. That's of interest to Rangers fans because the club took advantage of that market last year in obtaining Cliff Lee. There isn't a Lee out there this year unless the Mariners decide to part with Felix Hernandez and if they do, you're talking about a guy that is under contract through 2014.
So other than that, who's out there? Some of the names Olney lists (he has a bunch of others that you can look at here):
James Shields, Rays: He's coming off a year in which he had a 5.18 ERA and allowed a whopping 34 homers; his ERA after the All-Star break was 5.59. But he is still relatively young, at 29, and he has had success. Shields will make $4.25 million this year, but is under team control through 2014 because of a series of options -- $7 million for next season, $9 million for 2013 and $12 million for '14.Joe Blanton, Phillies: As the Phillies quietly talked about signing Cliff Lee, they also explored possible deals involving Blanton, who has now been bumped back to the No. 5 spot in the Philly rotation -- and could theoretically be replaced by Kyle Kendrick. Some teams who looked into Blanton's availability believe that Philadelphia needs to eat a significant portion of the $17 million owed to the right-hander over the next two years. The Phillies haven't been comfortable with that idea, yet; GM Ruben Amaro has said publicly that he intends to keep Blanton, who went 9-6 with a 4.82 ERA last season.
Shaun Marcum, Brewers: Milwaukee fully intends to compete this year and strengthened its rotation in an effort to make that happen. If the Brewers struggle early, in the way that the Diamondbacks did last year, plans can always change -- and Marcum would be very marketable, given his success in the AL East.
Fausto Carmona and Justin Masterson, Indians: Carmona has talent and is still relatively young, and he will draw a lot of interest, but his contract is very team-friendly, so the Indians would be looking for top-of-the-line prospects in return. The Red Sox reportedly called the Indians about Masterson in the past, and undoubtedly, he'll continue to draw interest because of his past success and his versatility; remember, he was an excellent middle man for Boston before the Red Sox traded him for Victor Martinez. Also remember, Masterson is only 25 years old.
Any of these names interest you? We talked about Shields during this offseason and I remain intrigued by him. The Rangers still have a very good minor league system and the pieces needed to pull off a deal at the deadline. And outside of Hernandez, none of these guys should get a package close to what the Mariners got for Lee.